So this month of the Canadian Food Experience project, and this month Valerie from a Canadian Foodie challenged us to write about a Xmas tradition. The Canadian Food Experience project brings together food bloggers, from across the country, to share their collective regional and cultural food experiences. When I saw this topic, I knew that I had to write about Trinidad Black Cake aka Rum Cake.
I moved away from home more than 20 years ago and once a year, at Xmas, I really miss home. I miss the sounds and smells of people getting ready for the holidays. It’s the time of year that people touch up old paint jobs, hang new curtains, put out their best dishes, and make their homes as hospitable as possible for guests that are sure to drop by.
Cooking and Baking are a HUGE part of Xmas. Growing up I was very fortunate to have more than enough to eat, and our table strained under the weight of all of the different meats, roasts, casseroles, veggies, breads, cakes and sweets. Cooking for Xmas dinner starts at least 3 days before so that we’d be ready for lunch on Xmas day, while baking for Xmas starts at least 3 weeks before.
One of those is our “black cake”, named for the colour or appearance of the cake after dark caramel browning has been added to it. In Jamaica, they call in rum cake and in other Caribbean islands they call it fruit cake but there’s one thing that’s common, it’s laden with alcohol which acts as a preservative for the cake, thereby enabling it to last well into the new year, without refrigeration.
This tradition has continued with my family here. There are 12 to 14 people who sit down for dinner every time we get together. Xmas is extra special though because it’s the one thing that brings back memories of home. While we’ve incorporated various Canadian dishes into our meal, there are a couple staples that you’ll always find there.
I start preparing the fruits for my cake in September. I’ll buy the fruits, grind them, add copious amounts of different liquour into the mixture, place it into an airtight container, and then let it sit. Once a month I’ll check on the mixture and if it looks dry, because the fruits have absorbed most of the booze, I’ll add more to it until the fruit looks nice and moist.
This is a time honoured Xmas tradition, and for me Xmas isn’t complete until I’ve made this cake. Be warned though you will need a designated driver if you have more than one slice.
Merry Xmas everyone!
Trinidad Black Cake Recipe
- 1 lb seeded prunes
- 1 lb raisins
- ½ lb maraschino cherries
- 1/4 lb mixed peel
- 1/2 lb cherries
- 1 lb chopped almonds or walnuts or pecans
- 1 bottle of cherry brandy
- ½ bottle of rum
- ½ bottle of Bailey’s Irish cream
- 1-2 tbsp Angostura bitters
- Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix well
- Soak a minimum of 1 month preferably in a covered airtight container. Check in periodically to make sure that all of the fruits are covered and moist.
- 3 cups of fruit mixture
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 2 tsp lemon or lime zest
- ½ tsp mixed essence
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 2 tbsp of browning
Have on hand: ½ bottle of rum, ½ bottle of cherry brandy
- Preheat oven to 275F. Grease and 2-inch floured plans and line with brown paper or parchment.
- Mix and sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice into a bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor until mixture is fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Then add in the lemon or lime zest, almond and vanilla essence to that mixture.
- Gently fold in flour in 3 increments into the egg creamed mixture, beating well in between increments. Add browning, fruit base and beat until just combined.
- Divide batter between the 2 prepared pans and bakes for 80-90 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When done remove from cakes oven and set aside to cool.
- Once cakes are cooled, pour equal amounts of rum and cherry brandy to your liking, then cover with plastic wrap and foil. The cakes will absorb the alcohol so you will need to keep re-basting over the next 3 days until the cakes remain moist.
- After 3 days, you can cut and serve.
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