Ever wondered what Christmas on an island is like? Well, in Jamaica, it’s pretty warm, and of course, jolly. And one thing a lot of us look forward to during this time? Rich, moist, and boozy Jamaican Christmas Cake.
Readers, meet the cake of my childhood. Cake of my childhood, meet my lovely readers.
I have to admit, I wasn’t always the biggest fan of this traditional dessert. In fact, I used to get upset when my mom would make it because it looks so much like chocolate cake, and it was always such a disappointment when she revealed she was making fruit cake instead. I mean, what kid would choose a cake made of dried fruit over a cake made with chocolate? Come on.
As an adult, however, I have much more appreciation for our Jamaican Christmas cake. And luckily, my mom is an expert at making them (my cooking skills had to come from somewhere right?), and she was generous enough to share her top fruit-cake making secrets.
Today’s post is sponsored by California Prunes! Why prunes, you ask? Because they’re actually a vital part of our fruit cake mix! A big thanks to CA Prunes for sponsoring this post. All opinions you see here are 100% my own.
What is Jamaican fruit cake
Also called black cake or rum cake, this is a traditional dessert that is served in Jamaica around the holidays and often at weddings. Raisins, prunes, currants, cherries, and other fruits are soaked in wine (or a wine and rum mixture), then baked into a super moist and rich cake! I’ll teach you how to make an AUTHENTIC fruit cake with easy-to-find ingredients, even if you’re not in the Caribbean!
How to make Jamaican Christmas cake from scratch
- Add required fruits to blender or food processor, then pour in wine. Blend until just combined; no need to make the mixture completely smooth. Let this mixture sit to soak for at least an hour.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, spices, and bread crumbs. Breadcrumbs are the secret to the moisture in this cake, so don’t forget them! Set aside.
- Cream softened, room temperature butter and sugar and a pinch of salt together on medium-low speed until fluffy and lighter in color. Add eggs in one at a time, beating at low speed until each egg is fully incorporated in the batter. Beat in vanilla extract and browning.
- Now it’s time to add the soaked fruit-wine mixture. Beat it into the batter on low speed until everything turns a deep maroon brown color. Lastly, add about 1/3 cup of the flour-bread crumb mixture at a time, folding gently until just combined with the liquids.
- Pour the batter into two well-greased loaf pans and bake at 350 F for about 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
How to soak fruits for fruit cake
You want to know how dedicated we Jamaicans are to our fruit cake? So dedicated that some of us soak the fruits from one Christmas to the next. Yep, a whole year’s worth of soaking.
But I know we all have pretty hectic lives, so ain’t nobody really got time for that. That’s why I suggest soaking your fruits for at least an hour, or overnight if you’ve got enough time. But what does “soaking” them really entail?
All you need to do is blend the fruits together with alcohol, and let them sit. Simple as that.
The best alcohol for Christmas cake
You’ll want to choose a good-quality red Porto wine. If the wine is too weak or bland, the flavor of your fruit cake will suffer for it. I really enjoyed using Sandeman’s Ruby Porto Wine in my cake.
Some people like to do a mixture of wine and rum. I think this cake is fantastic with just wine, but I won’t discourage you from adding rum to the mix if you’re feeling adventurous!
- Let your butter sit out on the counter for about an 1 hour so it can properly soften to room temperature. It’s ready for creaming when it’s soft, but not greasy, and you can easily bend it without breaking it.
- Use room temperature eggs.
- Sift breadcrumbs so they are easier to incorporate into batter.
- Be careful not to over-mix the batter and don’t forget to grease your cake pans!
How to store leftovers
Remember this one little thing about Christmas cake: the staler it gets, the better it gets. Maybe it’s the wine in it making it a little richer over time, but it’s not uncommon for fruit cake to to taste even better a day or two after being baked. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!
That being said, you can enjoy your fruit cake for up to a month if you wrap it in aluminum foil and store the wrapped cake in an airtight container.
Other cake recipes you might like…
Mom’s Jamaican Christmas Cake
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- 1 cup currants
- 1 cup maraschino cherries drained and stems removed
- 2 cups red Porto wine
- 2 cups (240 grams) all purpose flour sifted
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs sifted
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 6 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup Grace browning
- Grease two 9 inch loaf pans with butter and set aside. In a blender or food processor, combine raisins, prunes, currants, cherries, and wine. Blend until just combined; the mixture should be just a little lumpy. Set aside to let soak for at least an hour.
- Once the fruits have soaked for at least an hour, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add flour, breadcrumbs, baking powder, and spices to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk until combined; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat softened butter, salt, and sugar on medium low speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs in one at a time, beating on low speed until each egg is fully incorporated into the mixture. Beat in the vanilla extract and browning. Pour in the fruit-wine mixture and mix until completely combined. The batter should be a dark maroon-brown color.
- Add about a 1/3 cup of the flour-breadcrumb mixture to the batter at a time, folding gently with a spatula until just combined. Once all the dry ingredients have been added, give it one final big stir to ensure that everything is incorporated well enough. Be careful not to overmix. The cake batter will be slightly thick and very lumpy.
- Fill both loaf pans about three-quarters (3/4) full and bake for 65-75 minutes; check the cakes around 50 minutes into baking time. They are ready when a toothpick inserted into the center of both comes out clean. Remove in the oven and let cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Nutrition facts are an estimate.