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Jamaican Black Fruit Cake Recipe for Christmas

Jamaican Black Fruit Cake | Michele Bogle
Jamaican Black Fruit Cake | Michele Bogle

Christmas fruit cake is a traditional offering during the holidays. Often it is an unwelcome gift, but we must be thankful for its evolution. In sixteenth-century Rome, it was made with pine nuts, barley mash, pomegranate seeds, raisins, and honeyed wine. It was initially created as an energy bar for soldiers. 

A modern version of the cake studded with fruits and nuts, first baked in the Middle Ages in Europe, included cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Ingredients used as culinary distinctions, British and North American versions are frequently topped with marzipan icing.

In the early to mid-1600s, during British rule in the Caribbean, the British introduced their version, a plum pudding, an interpretation of the dessert enjoyed at Christmas. The Caribbean bakers modified plum pudding to make the black cake.

Being gifted a Jamaican Black Fruit Cake is something to celebrate. The cake is moist with tremendous flavour. Whether additional rum is added after baking or not is a personal preference. The amount of rum and wine soaked into the fruit before it bakes brings out intoxicating flavours. One would never guess that prunes were part of the recipe. You don’t discern notes of fruits but rather a symphony of flavours that make you dig in for more.

Often decorated with royal icing, this fruit cake is a very sweet dessert. Please note that the longer the fruit soaks in the alcohol, the tastier the cake - four days, a few weeks and as long as a year. 

Jamaican Black Fruit Cake Recipe

PREPARATION TIME   2 hrs 15 min (fruit prepared four days in advance) YIELDS    8 to 10


8-inch cake pan, standup or hand mixer, parchment paper, spatula, teaspoon, measuring cup, small saucepan, blender, large sealable container, large mixing bowl, plastic wrap, pastry brush



⅞ cup pitted prunes

¾ cup dried currants

¾ cup raisins

⅓ cup red maraschino cherries (3 additional cherries reserved for the top)

¼ cup pineapple

Soaking for fruit

1 cup red wine

1 cup dark rum


8 tbsp brown sugar

8 tbsp dark rum

Cake batter

¾ cup softened butter

¾ cup brown sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

¼ tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp orange zest

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 ⅔ cups macerated fruit mixture

¾ cup flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

The mixture to brush on top of the cake after baking

4 tbsp dark rum

4 tbsp cherry brandy (soak cherries in the rum as a substitute)



Step 1

With two forks, toss the prunes, currants, raisins, pineapple and maraschino cherries in a large mixing bowl. Pour a couple of tablespoons of rum into the blender and then add the fruit mixture in parts so as not to overheat the blender. Pulse the mixture until a paste is achieved.

Step 2

Transfer the fruit paste to the sealable container and add 1 cup of rum and 1 cup of red wine. Seal tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Allow fruit paste to absorb the alcohol, undisturbed, for a minimum of four days.


Step 3

Place 8 tablespoons of sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat and stir until it caramelizes. Once dark brown, remove from heat and mix in 8 tablespoons of rum. Set aside.


Step 4

Preheat the oven to 285℉. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

Step 5

Mix flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. In the mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale in colour. Add orange and lemon zest, vanilla, and eggs, one at a time. 

Slowly add the macerated fruit mixture until blended. With a spatula, fold the dry mix in. One tablespoon at a time, add browning until the desired colour is achieved, combining gently with the spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.—Bake for approximately 90 to 95 minutes. The cake tester can come out moist. Immediately brush the entire surface with the rum and cherry brandy combination. Let cool completely.

Wrap the cake tightly to keep it from drying. Cover the container tightly until served. The longer it sits, the better the flavour.

Delicious warm or cold. Adding ¼ to ½ of a cup of additional rum to the cake while it is stored is a popular option. Keep parchment paper around the cake to ensure the additional liquid is fully absorbed.