It’s July, which has me thinking of Christmas, which has me thinking it’s time to start my fruitcake. And not just any fruitcake. Laurie Colwin’s Black Cake. Now technically, this isn’t her cake. It’s a traditional Black Cake is a Caribbean/African-style fruitcake served at Christmas time, but I first learned about this cake in Laurie Colwin’s book Home Cooking.
Last year, I made two of these cakes, and brought them along to the various holiday gatherings. My mother even took one of the cakes to a New Year’s Eve party, and one of her friends from Africa got a little misty-eyed. She told my mom it was just like her mother used to make back in Africa. I was glad to know this cake is the real deal!
I admit, I derived a certain wicked glee out of bestowing fruitcake upon my friends. We all know the jokes about fruitcake, and Black Cake is a serious fruitcake, one that sticks with you. It must be served in small pieces because of its density, and its one that you must start in the spring or summer if it’s to be ready by Christmas. But it is worth it. It is so delicious.
July is here, so it is time to begin this year’s Black Cakes. We begin by marinating the fruit. The fruit should marinate in alcohol for 3-6 months. Yes, months.
The classic fruitcake ingredients (mixed peel and glazed red cherries) are hard to find in the store this time of year, so it’s easiest to just order online. Last year, I ordered from Nuts.com, and was impressed by the quality and prompt service. I highly recommend this family owned company. They also sell all kinds of dried fruit, granola, and other snacks. (Note: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way. I just really like their products.)
You will need a bottle of dark rum, a bottle of Passover wine, and multiple pounds of fruit. I’ve listed my choices below: 1 lb each of prunes, raisins, black currants, mixed peel, and glazed red cherries. But you can really take this recipe and put your own spin on things. All raisins? Why not? Want to try it with dried apricots? Go for it! I’m a kitchen renegade, a believer in marching to the beat of your own whisk.
Start by mincing all of the fruit. This is the most labor intensive part of making the cake. If you have a food processor, use it! I discovered that the food processor works great for the cherries, mixed peel, and currants. It struggled with the raisins, but when I threw some rum in, it blended up well.
My particular food processor just couldn’t handle the prunes, so I had to chop those by hand. Lucky thing prunes are big, so there weren’t that many to chop.
Throw everything into the biggest bowl you have, and pour in the rum. I don’t know much about rum, but this one said it’s from Jamaica, so this is what I used. It was indeed dark!
Pour in the wine.
Then mix it all up. Seriously, Is there any way to make chopped dried fruit soaking in alcohol pretty? I don’t know. But take my word for it, despite the looks it smelled divine. Divinely boozey.
Dump all of this into a huge jar (gallon size is what I use), and put it in the back of your pantry. By the time the holiday season arrives, the fruit will be ready to bake into the cake.
Black Cake Part 1: Marinating the Fruit
A Carribbean/African-style fruitcake perfect for Christmas parties and gift-giving
Credit: Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin
- Chop all fruit extra fine and mix together in a large bowl.
- Add the wine and rum and stir until thoroughly mixed.
- Transfer fruit and alcohol mixture into a large, lidded container. A 1 gallon jar works well for this.
- Close the lid securely and allow to marinate for 3-6 months.
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