in the Caribbean there is tradition of Black Fruit Cake at Christmas time, making this cake is an artform, my grandmother; Winnifred; was one of its masters. I’m reproducing her recipe here as it was passed on to my mother and now to me. reading my mother’s handwriting to transcribe here, i’m realising that this is not a single cake recipe and by my calculations it may be too late to get started on cakes for this year.
one of my favourite memories of Christmas was preparing the fruit, not for the current year’s cakes, but for the following year.
1lb Prunes (pitted)
1lb candied Mixed Peel
1 Cup Rum
1 Bottle Cheap wine (inexpensive, fruity, red)
3lbs Baking Flour
3lbs Sugar (brown; real brown, not white washed with molasses)
2 doz. Eggs
3 tbs. baking powder
4 medium limes (zest)
Grind fruit together and put to soak for 2 -3 months in rum and wine.
Blend (or mix) butter and sugar in 1/2 lb batches, adding 1 egg yolk at a time until all sugar grains disappear.
Blend (or whisk) egg whites with lime zest until peaks appear.
Add flour, baking powder and fruit in 1/2 cup, 1/2 teaspoon and 1 cup increments to butter/sugar mixture, mixing constantly until all flour, baking powder and fruit are mixed in. finally add peaked egg whites.
Grease 3 – 4 cake tins and line with parchment paper.
Pour cake mixture in pans and place in moderate (250 F degree) oven, lower the temperature to 175 degrees after an hour. insert knife or wooden skewer into cake(s), cake(s) are done when knife or skewers are clean and dry.
Remove from oven and let cool.
When cakes have cooled, turn out onto boards and add rum or wine as desired.
edit: we have begun the cake making process, starting with soaking the fruits, we used a combination of Marsala and the ends of two bottles of Shiraz and Merlot with no ill effects. the actual cake making will begin sometime in mid to late December.
We’re using sugar procured by various sources from the Caribbean, but the Hawaiian sugar in the raw or any actual brown sugar mentioned in a previous post should be work, although it may require extra mixing to get a smooth texture.