Each family has its recipe and cooking traditions for Christmas. Many times, it depends on your culture.
In our house, it’s American, Puerto Rican, and Canadian. This blog post is for you if you want to bring a little Jamaican culture home this holiday season.
Whether you’re baking Jamaican Black Cake or Jamaican Rum Cake, most Jamaican recipes start with massive amounts of dried fruit – raisins, currants, plums, cherries, orange peel. Also, don’t forget to soak the fruit in copious amounts of rum, red wine, or port wine for at least two days. Some chefs and cooks soak their fruit for a whole year!
In addition to the intoxicating fruit mixture, a Jamaican Christmas Cake also needs brown sugar, flour, eggs, and (of course) lots of hot spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Unique to this particular fruitcake recipe is an ingredient called “blackening.” This is simply a mixture of burnt sugar and water browning (also known as brown sauce). It gives a different depth of flavor and deep colors to many Caribbean dishes, both sweet and savory.
Bottles of browning can be found in any Caribbean grocery store, but it’s also easy to make your own by melting brown sugar in a pan until it’s almost black and then pouring it into boiling water to turn it from a sticky mass into a sauce.
To do this, use two parts sugar to one part water, and be sure to use a pan that holds at least twice the total volume of the sauce because it will bubble when you add the water.
Once your round cake comes out of the oven, it’s not time to eat it – not yet! (Yes, this is a process.) First, it needs to be bathed in rum and left to marinate for at least a few days, but preferably for a few weeks, wrapped in gauze and aluminum foil.
Also, make a note to open it for a gentle brushing with rum every three days or so. The aging and soaking process makes the cake even denser and moist – like the best cakes.
Jamaican Christmas Cake Recipe
However, the recipe that I’m sharing is a faster version (because I’m an impatient person), so you will be able to prepare and bake this holiday cake in one hour 30 minutes… and it’ll still taste good.
Ready to start baking? Pull out your large mixing bowls and cake pans and let’s get started.
Christmas Cake Ingredients:
- 1 cup white rum, plus 1/4 cup more for pouring
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup pitted prunes
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a bit more for dusting the pan
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter or cream butter at room temperature so it’s soft
- 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup molasses
- powdered sugar for dusting
Christmas Cake Baking Directions:
- In a saucepan, bring the rum to a boil. Turn off the heat and add raisins and prunes. Cover and wait until the fruit absorbs most of the liquid. Let it cool and blend the dried, soaked fruit in a blender. Set this aside for later use.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Fill a baking pan half full of water and place it on the bottom shelf of the oven to generate steam. Then, spray a 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray oil, line it with wax paper or parchment paper, and spray it again. Sprinkle the pan with flour.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set the large bowl with the dry ingredients aside.
- In an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and brown sugar together until it is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they’re mixed in. Add the vanilla extract, molasses, and dried fruit puree and mix it all together until blended. At a slow speed, add the sifted flour mixture to the egg mixture so you have one large mixing bowl of cake batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and bake it for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- When done, transfer the Jamaican Christmas Cake to a wire rack to cool. Wait five minutes and turn the cake upside down. Remove the cake tin and paper. Then, drizzle 1/4 cup of the reserved rum.
- Let it cool and rotate the cake to its upright position. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar, and if you’d like, decorate the cake with maraschino cherries, strawberries, citrus peels, or a cinnamon stick!
Any leftovers? Save it in an airtight container for later use.
What dried fruits are your favorite to use in this recipe? What are your favorite desserts to bake during Christmas time? Do you prefer Christmas pudding, regular cakes, chocolate cakes, or a specific dark wine? Let me know what your personal preference is on Instagram at @ChristinaAllDay.