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Jamaican Black Cake

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This rich and moist Jamaican Black Cake is the centerpiece dessert that’s perfect for any holiday or celebration. Black Cake, also known as rum cake, Christmas cake, and wedding cake, depending on when it’s served, is a staple dessert recipe in all of the Caribbean.

slice of jamaican black cake on plate with whole cake in background

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Full Recipe Ingredients/Instructions are available in the 
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Black Cake is exactly what it’s named, a cake that is really black. It’s also rich, dense, moist, and taste like a strong liquored cake with tons of flavor and essence. Growing up in a Jamaican household, it’s all I knew when it came to celebrations, especially Christmas. We also had the cake at every wedding, including my very own.

Black cake is known by many names, rum cake, Christmas cake, or wedding cake (where it’s covered in royal icing). Black cake is made among the Caribbean islands and is not only specific to Jamaica. Everyone has their own version of the cake but it’s pretty much all the same. Dried fruits are soaked for weeks or months in advance in wine or rum. This mixture is then either added whole or blended and turned into a delicious cake.

The process of making the cake is what makes it so special and delicious. Many bakers even sell the cakes during the Holidays and it’s worth every penny. Depending on who makes the cake, some are more cake-like, with actual whole or cut dried fruits in the cake. Others are well blended and come with a more pudding-like consistency. I like the latter and it’s what I’m sharing with you today.

Be sure to try my Caribbean Rum Cake and Jamaican Sorrel Drink too.

jamaican black cake on table with cherries and drink behind it

Ingredients for Black Cake

Before jumping into the process, I want to mention the ingredients needed for this cake. Some ingredients need to be made/bought/prepared in advance.

  • Dried fruits – traditionally, the dried fruits used in the recipe included dried pitted prunes, currants, dried cherries, and raisins. I replaced the currants with golden raisins.
  • Red sweet wineRed Label Wine, a Jamaican wine, is the wine generally used in this recipe. However, any sweet dessert wine can be subbed. I used Manischewitz Concord grape wine.  
  • Butter, Flour, Sugar, Breadcrumbs, Eggs, Baking Powder – these are the basic cake ingredients that will give your cake structure. The breadcrumbs are added to keep this cake super moist. 
  • Spices, Lime, and Extracts – Adds flavor to the cake. 
  • Burnt Sugar and Browning – These are what turn your cake black. Browning and Burnt Sugar can both be found either online or in a Caribbean market. 

How to make Jamaican Black Cake

First, you’ll need to start by combining your dried fruits and wine in advance for a minimum of 5 days. Fruits can be soaked much longer, up to 4-6 months, but 5 days is enough for me. You’ll notice that the longer your fruits sit, the more wine they will soak up, meaning you may need to add more wine the longer it sits to cover the fruits.

When it’s time to bake your cake, gather all your ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121C) and prepare a 10-inch baking pan by using a cake pan liner and greasing the sides. Set aside. 

Blend the wine and fruit mixture in a blender until smooth. Set aside.

 

Mix the all-purpose flour, plain breadcrumbs, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and dark brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, for about 3 minutes. 

Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Then mix in the lime juice and zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Mix in the flour mixture until combined.

Fold in the blended fruit and wine mixture, the browning, and the burnt sugar until fully combined. You’ll notice how dark the cake batter gets once the browning and burnt sugar are added. The cake will also get darker as it bakes.

Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 2 and a half hours, until a toothpick in the middle, comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and place on serving platter. Pour ¼ cup of the red dessert wine over the cake. Allow the cake to continue cooling overnight. The cake will continue to soak up the liquid that was poured on top. 

Serve and enjoy.

close up photo of jamaican black cake

Notes on Jamaican Black Cake

  • I was able to find all the ingredients for this cake at my local grocery store and the island grocery store in my city. Browning and burnt sugar are available online if you don’t have an island grocery store in your city.
  • Some people soak their fruits in rum in addition to wine. I don’t.
  • You could also make your own burnt sugar for this recipe if you choose to do so.
  • Store Black Cake at room temperature for a few days. It only last 1-2 days in our household.
  • You can bake in smaller pans and give away as gifts. If baking in smaller pans, your cakes will bake much faster.
  • Please remeber to bake this cake on low, 250 degrees Fahrenheit (120C) if you like the softer pudding like cake.
jamaican black cake on white plate

Looking for more Jamaican Holiday Recipes. Try these out:

jamaican black cake on table with cherries and drink behind it
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Jamaican Black Cake

This rich and moist Jamaican Black Cake is the centerpiece dessert that's perfect for any holiday or celebration. Black Cake, also known as rum cake, Christmas cake, and wedding cake, depending on when it's served, is a staple dessert recipe in all of the Caribbean.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Caribbean
Keyword black cake, caribbean black cake, fruit cake, jamaican black cake
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Soaking Fruits 5 days
Total Time 5 days 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 12 people
Calories 581kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

Fruit Blend

  • 8 oz pitted dried prunes about 1 ¼ cup
  • 5 oz raisins about 1 cup
  • 5 oz golden raisins about 1 cup
  • 5 oz dried cherries about 1 cup
  • 2 ¾ cups sweet red dessert wine separated

Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ lb butter 2 sticks, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice and lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Fruit bend mixture
  • 2 Tablespoon browning
  • 2 Tablespoon burnt sugar

Instructions

Make the fruit blend mixture

  • Combine prunes, raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries, and 2 ½ cups of sweet red wine in an airtight container. Cover and let sit for at least 5 days or up to a few months. If storing longer than a few days, you will need to add more wine to the mixture to cover the fruits as the fruit will soak up the wine over time.
  • When ready to bake, add the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Make the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121C) and prepare a 10-inch baking pan by using a pan liner and greasing the sides. Set aside.
  • Mix the all-purpose flour, plain breadcrumbs, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and dark brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, for about 3 minutes on medium speed.
  • Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the lime juice and zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Mix in the flour mixture until combined. Fold in the blended fruit mixture, the browning, and burnt sugar until fully combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 2 and half hours, until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove and pour ¼ cup of the sweet red wine over the cake. Allow the cake to continue cooling overnight. The cake will continue to soak up the liquid that was poured on top.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Notes

  • This cake can be baked in a smaller pan if needed. If using a 9-inch baking pan, you’ll have leftover batter to make a smaller cake. Smaller cakes will cook faster.
  • You could also make your own burnt sugar for this recipe if you choose to do so.
  • Black Cake is generally stored at room temperature. It will last for a few days. 

Nutrition

Calories: 581kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 300mg | Potassium: 569mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 1140IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating




Christina Knorr

Monday 6th of December 2021

What else can I use burnt sugar for? Thank you for sharing

Tanya

Monday 6th of December 2021

Hey Christina! Great question. Cocktails for sure are a good use for burnt sugar. I'm planning on testing it with other baked goods in the future.