Caribbean Black Cake: Origin, Flavours, Recipe and More

The Caribbean black cake is a decadent, dark fruit cake typically enjoyed over the Christmas season. It is a well enjoyed dessert in several Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Guyana. The cake is composed of an assortment of dried fruits, nuts, and spices, and is usually marinated in rum or other alcoholic beverages for several weeks before consumption. The black cake symbolises cultural history by representing the complex blend of influences that have created Caribbean cuisine. 


Black cake has its origins in the Middle East and Europe, where fruitcakes were commonly enjoyed throughout the Christmas season. European settlers introduced their culinary traditions, such as fruitcake baking, to the Caribbean during their trips. In the Caribbean, these fruitcakes were enhanced by the region's abundant agricultural resources, resulting in a wonderful change. Local fruits such as raisins, currants, prunes, and cherries were plentifully included, giving a harmonious blend of sweet and tart tastes. Dark rum, a fundamental element in Caribbean culture, was used to provide a unique richness and intricacy to the cake. The term "black cake" originates from the utilisation of molasses, a residue from sugarcane processing, that was prevalent in the Caribbean. Molasses gave the cake a unique dark colour and a deep, almost smokey undertone, enhancing its tasting profile with added complexity. 

The black cake has developed into a fundamental element of Caribbean cuisine, deeply woven into indigenous customs and festivities. It symbolised abundance, prosperity, and communal gatherings, frequently appearing on tables during Christmas and New Year celebrations. 

Black cake now symbolises the Caribbean's diverse cultural legacy and has become a globally admired culinary marvel. The combination of distinct flavours, scents, and cultural importance has firmly established it as a representation of Caribbean identity, serving as a delicious representative of the region's lively essence. 

Caribbean Black Cake Recipe 

500g dried fruits (raisins, currants, prunes, cherries, etc.) 

1 cup strong rum, plus more as needed 

1 cup sweet wine, plus more as needed 

290g unsalted butter 

1 cup granulated sugar 

5 large eggs 

2¼ cups flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

3 tablespoons browning sauce 

2 tablespoons molasses 

1 teaspoon mixed spices (sub with cinnamon and allspice) 

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

2 teaspoons lime zest, grated 

1 teaspoon almond extract 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 


Begin by cutting all the fruit into small pieces and then transfer them to a spacious bowl. 

Combine rum and wine with the fruit in the dish, ensuring the fruit is completely covered with alcohol. Place a cover on it and let it sit in a cool area for two days to absorb the alcohol. If left for over 48 hours, additional alcohol may be required. 

Transfer the soaked fruit along with any remaining liquids into a blender and process until it forms a paste. 

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Prepare the cake pan by greasing it and lining it with parchment paper. 

Beat the butter and sugar at high speed until it becomes fluffy and appears white, often taking 3-5 minutes. 

Combine the eggs one at a time into the mixture, ensuring they are well incorporated and adding a tablespoon of flour with the final egg to avoid curdling. 

Before adding browning sauce, molasses, almond and vanilla extract, mixed spices, nutmeg, and baking powder, sift in the flour and baking powder. Add the fruit mixture and lime zest to the batter after mixing. 

Mix everything thoroughly until properly blended. Ensure to scrape the edges of the mixing bowl while mixing. 

Transfer the batter to a prepared 10-inch cake pan.  

Bake for approximately two hours or until a cake tester comes out clean.  

To enhance the flavour, pierce the cake with a toothpick and then apply approximately ¼ cup of rum or sweet wine while it is hot. Allow it to absorb the rum.  

Allow it to cool fully before serving.  

Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper if you choose. Keep in a cool, dry area for a maximum of one month.