Trinidad Black Cake Recipe: Soaking, Browning and More

Black cake or fruit cake is the most popular Trinidad Christmas dessert. It is dark, boozy and filled with wonderful dried fruits and flavor.

In this post, you’ll find everything for soaking the fruits, making browning and bringing the cake together. Feel free to adjust the recipe with your preferred alcohol and fruits and try my sponge cake recipe too.

trinidad black cake or fruit cake garnished with cherries and mint leaves with a cake cutter and bottle of cherries in the background and a red striped tea towel in the foreground

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Ingredients and substitutions

For this recipe, I used:

  • dried fruits: I used raisins, prunes, cherries and candied mixed peel (get on Amazon). Feel free to try seedless dried cranberries, sultanas, and currants.
  • alcohol: I used Manischewitz blackberry wine and El Dorado rum here but cherry brandy or puncheon rum are much more popular.
  • brown sugar: needed to make browning and for the cake itself. You can use store-bought browning as well.
  • butter
  • flour: all purpose flour is ideal here. Cake flour is not recommended since it may cause the cake to raise too much.
  • baking powder
  • eggs
  • citrus zest: lime or lemon zest will work here. This helps to remove the fresh taste from the eggs.
  • molasses: although not common, molasses gives the cake a beautiful, rich depth of flavor
  • flavorings: I use vanilla essence and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. You can also try almond, mixed, and even cocoa essence in place of the vanilla.

Instructional video

How to make Trinidad black cake step-by-step

Soak the fruits with alcohol

The fruits are often soaked weeks and months before making the cake. But it is possible to make the cake without soaking. Here, I’ll walk you through both ways.

A. Soaking months ahead

Step 1A: Add the fruits to a clean, sterilized container with a proper lid. Pour enough alcohol to completely cover the fruits (more is better). Cover the container and place in a cool, dark cupboard away from light and heat. Every few months, add more alcohol to cover the fruits.

soaked fruits for trini black cake

Here’s a quick tiktok on how I soak the fruits (I didn’t add the rum at this time, but I did add it in after).

@wetrinifood

I’m late for soaking my fruits for Christmas. This recipe is double what I have on the blog (link in bio). The wine has a really nice flavor and the cakes come out so good! Enjoy. #trinidadchristmas #trini_tiktoks

♬ Christmas Music – Memusic

B. Same day baking

Step 1B: Add the fruits and alcohol to a blender or food processor. Blend to a chunky consistency. Place the mixture in a small pot on low heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Both blending and heating helps to speed up the alcohol absorption by the fruits.

Make browning

Step 2: Place a small pot on low heat and add 1 cup of brown sugar. Stir occasionally to distribute the heat as the sugar starts to melt and caramelize.

bubbling caramelized sugar

Step 3: When the melted sugar becomes frothy and a dark brown color, add half cup of boiling water quickly (carefully!) to stop the caramelization process. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

finished browning sauce

Check out my post for more details on how to make browning from scratch. Also, you can skip these steps by using browning you can get from Amazon.

Make the cake

Step 4: Remove the butter from the fridge and leave until it becomes room temperature. If you made browning from scratch, stir in the molasses to make it easier to use later on.

Step 5: Preheat the oven at 250°F.

Step 6: Add the room temperature butter and sugar to your stand mixer and cream for about 8 to 10 minutes on the medium setting until the mixture becomes light, fluffy and smooth.

combine butter, sugar and eggs

Step 7: Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating fully, before adding the next.

Step 8: Pour in the essence and citrus zest and mix to combine.

Step 9: In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder and nutmeg. Mix properly to evenly distribute the baking powder and spices.

dry ingredients for black cake

Step 10: Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the batter and mix slowly to fully incorporate.

Step 11: Pour in the browning and molasses mixture made in Steps 2 to 4. This will give the batter a beautiful brown color.

add browning to black cake

Step 12: Add 6 cups of the soaked fruits and alcohol to a blender or food processor and blend until it has a nice chunky texture. I like the chunkiness because you can see and taste the fruit pieces in the finished cake. If you don’t like this, then by all means blend until the fruits have a smooth consistency.

Step 13: Add the blended fruits to the cake batter. My stand mixer is only a 3.5 quart, so I transferred the batter over to a larger bowl to mix in the fruits. Be sure to stir thoroughly so the fruits spread out within the batter.

add blended fruits to cake batter

Step 14: Butter and flour your cake pans. Two 10-inch cake pans are needed for this recipe. I actually have two 9-inch cake pans so I used a third cake pan which was 7-inches wide. I generally make thinner fruit cakes (under two inches) but you can make yours thicker if you like.

trini fruit cake batter in cake pans

Step 15: Bake for 1 hour at the temperature of 250°F.

Step 16: Lower the heat and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours at 225°F. My thinner cakes generally cook within the one and a half hours but thicker ones will take the full two hours.

Step 17: Check the cakes after the time for doneness. Do this by sticking a bamboo skewer in the center of the cake. If the skewer comes out clean, then check other spots on the cake. If it still comes out clean, your cake is done! But, if there is batter on the skewer, add it back to your oven and bake for 10 more minutes before checking again with the skewer.

Step 18: When the cakes are all done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

trinidad black cakes

Soak the cakes

Step 19: With the cakes cooled, poke several holes in them. I use a bamboo skewer but you can use a fork.

Step 20: Brush the cakes with your preferred alcohol. I usually mix 1/4 cup of blackberry wine and 1/4 cup of dark rum and brush that onto the cakes, which soak the alcohol up. Soaking preserve the cake during the season. Refrigerating and freezing the cake will preserve the cake for much longer.

Step 21: Serve a slice of the cake with other Trinidad Christmas food like sponge cake, pineapple upside down cake, sweet bread, and more.

trinidad black cake or fruit cake garnished with cherries and mint leaves with a cake cutter and bottle of cherries in the background and a red striped tea towel in the foreground

Recipe

trinidad black cake or fruit cake garnished with cherries and mint leaves with a cake cutter and bottle of cherries in the background and a red striped tea towel in the foreground
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Trinidad black cake recipe

Popular around Christmas time, this Trini black cake is made with raisins, candied peels, and other dried fruits that have been soaked in alcohol. The color comes from browning made by caramelizing sugar. And the taste? Well that comes from everything in this cake! It is so good!
Prep Time60 days
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Caribbean
Keyword: trinidad black cake, trinidad fruit cake
Servings: 20 slices
Calories: 844kcal
Author: Ros Singh

Ingredients

For soaking

  • 200 g seedless raisins
  • 200 g seedless cherries
  • 200 g seedless prunes
  • 200 g candied mixed peel
  • 560 mL alcohol of your choice (500 mL for soaking fruits + 60 mL for soaking the cake) (e.g. Manischewitz blackberry wine or cherry brandy)
  • 110 mL dark rum of your choice (50 mL for soaking fruits + 60 mL for soaking the cake) (e.g. El Dorado)

Cake

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 6 cups soaked fruits (blended)
  • 2 cups butter (soft)
  • cups brown sugar (2 ½ cups for the cake; 1 cup for browning)
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp citrus zest
  • 2 tsp nutmeg

Alcohol blend

  • ¼ cup alcohol of your choice
  • ¼ cup rum of your choice (optional)

Equipment

  • Blender or Food processor
  • Cake mixer

Instructions

Soak fruits ahead of time

  • Add all fruits to a large container.
  • Pour wine (alcohol of choice) and rum to completely cover the fruits.
  • Seal the container.
  • Place in a dark cupboard for several days to months.
  • Check occasionally (every month or so).
  • Top up alcohol if necessary.
  • When ready to bake, add to blender
  • Blend until chunky.
  • Set aside.

Or simmer fruits for same day baking

  • Add fruits, wine (alcohol of choice) and rum to a blender.
  • Blend until chunky.
  • Place a large pot on low heat. Allow to heat up.
  • Pour the blended fruits into the pot.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Make the browning

  • Place a small pot on low heat. Allow to heat up.
  • Add 1 cup of brown sugar to the pot.
  • Stir often as the sugar melts and caramelizes.
  • When the sugar becomes dark brown, add ½ cup boiling water (carefully).
  • Remove from heat.
  • Mix in the molasses.
  • Set aside to cool.

Make the cake

  • Preheat the oven at 250°F.
  • Add soft butter and sugar to a stand mixer.
  • Combine until smooth and fluffy.
  • Add one egg at a time. Incorporate fully before adding another.
  • Mix in vanilla essence and citrus zest.
  • Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder and nutmeg) in a separate bowl.
  • Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the stand mixer.
  • Pour in the browning and molasses. Combine fully.
  • Mix in the blended fruits.
  • Butter two 10-inch cake pans.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour at 250°F.
  • Lower heat to 225°F.
  • Bake the cakes for 1½ to 2 more hours.
  • Check the cake for doneness (add 10 more minutes if the cakes are not fully cooked, then recheck for doneness).
  • Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Soak the cake

  • Mix the wine and rum of your choice for the alcohol blend.
  • Poke holes in the cake using a skewer.
  • Brush the cake with half of the alcohol blend.
  • Repeat the next day.
  • Serve for a delightful Trini Christmas.

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homepage fruit cake slice

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I tried it with the blackberry wine and you’re right! There’s a unique, fruity taste much better than the cheap alco we usually use. Thanks for this!

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