In part one of this black cake making recipe we focused on preparing the aromatic fruits we’ll be using to give the cake it truly unique Caribbean flavor. Black cake is one of those desserts you’ll find in just about every Caribbean home during the Christmas holidays and as we’ve discussed in part 1, just about everyone does things a bit different. This black cake recipe is one which takes me back to my childhood in Trinidad and Tobago as we all (brothers and sisters) assisted my mom in making these the night before Christmas. Besides the scent of freshly painted walls, varnished floors, new curtains and bed sheets… the tempting fragrance out of the oven leading up to and including Christmas day is one of pure joyful memories for me. Cake, bread, bake pork and the smoked ham.
Let’s get baking…
2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 lb)
1 cup brown sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon mixed essence
4-5 cups dried fruits (puree/soaked)
2 cups allpurpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon browning (see note below)
1 teaspoon lime zest (grated)
dash of angostura bitters (optional) and a pinch of salt
Note: The browning required to give the cake the dark rich color and Caribbean flavor is not your typical gravy browning. It’s a Caribbean style burnt sugar browning. Its consistency will be similar to molasses (thick). You can source this at any West Indian grocery store or you can make your own if you prefer.
* Make sure the eggs are room temperature and the butter is soft.
* if you prefer to use granulated sugar instead of the brown sugar I mentioned, by all means do so. This is just my preference.
We’ll start off by creaming the butter and sugar until you have a fluffy and smooth consistency. You will also notice that the color will become more pale as you cream the butter. This is one of those times you’ll be thankful if you have a standing mixers. we don’t own one (Santa, please bring Chris a Kitchen Aid for Christmas. please boss), so in a large bowl I put the sugar and butter and using my handy hand mixer I went to work. Back in the old days I remember it was my dads job to do this with a large spoon. Mr Man was old school.
After you have a smooth and fluffy batter base, it’s time to start adding the eggs. Remember to have them at room temperature for best results, add one at a time and mix it thoroughly. Tip : Crack each egg into a small bowl first so you can fish out any shell if any pieces fall in.. this way you’re not diving in the batter for it)
After you’ve added and worked in all the eggs, it’s time to add the vanilla, bitters, mixed essence and lime zest and give it a good mix. Seeing that I was using a hand mixer I added the soaked fruits in two batches to make less work for the mixer. I added 3 cups, worked it in with a spatula, then gave it a good mix with the hand mixer.. then repeated with the other 2 cups of fruits. I now had the ‘wet’ batter completely mixed.
By now you’ll start getting that wonderful scent of cake batter, spiced by the wonderful soaked fruits. Now it’s time to work with the dry ingredients, then combine everything. In another bowl I placed the flour, pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg (if you have freshly grated that would work best) allspice and baking powder. Give that a good mix and I would even suggest sifting to really have it mix evenly. We’ll now start adding the dry ingredients to the wet batter, but do so in 1/3 amounts (so three times). To make mixing easier and to allow for even mixing.
With the batter completely mixed, it’s time to add the browning (see note above about type) and time to give the entire batter it’s final mix.
You’ll have enough batter here for 2 round pans (10-12 inches) or as in my case I used 3 disposable rectangle pans. Not only did I grease then, I also lined them with parchment paper to avoid any issues when they were done baking (to remove them). I got the pans in the dollar store and I like the fact that they came with lids, so I could easily seal them when they were cooled. Great for giving as Christmas gifts.
Pour in enough batter to 2/3 up the pan and place in a preheated 250 F oven for 2.5 hours. Since your oven will differ from mine, I suggest you give the cake the toothpick test after the 2.5 hrs to see if it’s fully baked. In the video below I explain this. If it’s not fully cooked, put it back in for another 20-30 minutes. I baked mine on the middle shelf of my oven if you’re wondering and it was completely baked after 2.5 hours.
After you remove the cakes from the oven allow it to cool for a bit, then you can brush a mixture of rum and sherry over it and allow it to soak through the cake. This will give it that added kick! Trust meh!