My cousin-in-law Roseanne was grateful enough to reveal her Guyanese black cake recipe to me. As you know by now I have acquired a passion and love for Caribbean food and have come to enjoy many of their culinary traditions. Mainly due to the fact that I have lived and worked in the Caribbean and second because of my beautiful wife Denise, whom I have met there, while, working as a chef. Now, 20 years later, I have two big sons who love our culinary traditions. We always wanted to make sure that our kids grow up knowing both cultures. So over the Holidays I usually cook popular German foods and my wife cooks Caribbean cuisine. That way my sons could appreciate different culinary traditions and indeed they love it. Thank God for that.
Culinary Traditions over New Year to bring Prosperity and Luck
One of these traditions is the black Cake, which is usually baked at Christmas, New Years and for weddings. Black cake is home to the entire Caribbean and is offered throughout the year in gift stores and bakeries alike. When it comes to Christmas and New Year it is a must to bake black cake. As my cousin-in-law puts it; the New Year can’t find you without black cake, freshly baked bread, pepper pot and black eye peas & rice. According to Caribbean traditions these four food staples bring you luck and prosperity for the New Year.
The Difference Between Fruit Cake and Black cake
Black cake is essentially a fruit cake which is simply colored with molasses. However, there is a fundamental difference in preparation and taste of both cakes. The fruits for black cake are soaked in alcohol and spices for a few month, preferably up to a year. After the black cake is baked it is immediately soaked with more alcohol. I’ll get to the specifics of the alcohol a little later. Both cakes are being baked for weddings and other festivities.
Planning and Preparing the Black Cake is Essential
In order to bake a perfect black cake one should plan for it way in advance. As I mentioned before, soaking the fruits in rum, brandy, port and other flavors is very important to make a flawless cake. The longer the fruits being soaked the better the outcome meaning flavor. However, I have baked a black cake with fruits soaked only a week and it worked out, too. But to get the real flavor and moisture into the cake, it’s better to soak it for a longer period of time. Then, when it comes to bake the cake having fun is equally important. Traditional a few friends come together and join the “baker” to help with simple procedures, talk about the old times and sip some port wine.
- Prepare fruits early in advance (if possible) for better flavor.
- ½ lb golden raisins
- ½ lb currants
- 1 lb prunes
- ¼ lb candied lemon peel
- ¼ lb candied Orange peel
- ¼ lb candied cherries
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- ½ tsp almond essence
- Cover with ½ liter dark rum, ¼ liter cherry brandy, ¼ liter port wine
- Keep an additional ¼ liter of rum and port wine for later.
- 1 lb / 454 grams unsalted butter, room temperature but not too warm
- ¾ lb / 340 grams dark brown sugar
- 12 fl oz / 360 ml molasses
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- 1½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- A pinch of salt
- 1½ tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp almond essence
- ¼ tsp anise essence
- 1 cup / 120 grams chopped walnuts
- 11 Eggs, room temperature
- 14 oz / 400 grams flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- In a food processor chop dried fruits to about a quarter of its size.
- Soak dried fruits with alcohol until completely covered, then close with a tied lid or aluminum foil. Keep at a cool dry place for at least 2 month to up to a year.
- With an electric handheld mixer or KitchenAid mixer whip butter and sugar on high-speed until it doubles in volume.
- On medium speed slowly add molasses, all flavors and spices.
- Now add one egg at a time.
- By now the batter should have doubled again in volume.
- Add chopped walnuts.
- Mix baking powder with flour and slowly add to batter.
- Oil and flour two 9″ baking pans and divide batter among the two.
- In a 300 degree Fahrenheit preheated oven bake for about 1 hour and thirty-five minutes.
- As soon as the cake is removed from the oven pour about ¼ liter of rum over it. Do not remove the black cake from its form. Let the cake absorb the alcohol. Once the cake is cooled out remove it from the form and wrap it with plastic wrap and foil. After about 4 hours pour ¼ liter of port wine over it. Wrap cake again airtight.
Warning: This cake should not be fed to children and young adults under the age of 21 due to its high alcohol content.
What are you cooking for the new year?
Do know of any dishes that suppose to bring you luck and prosperity?
Have you tried black cake before? Did you like it?