Jamaican black cake is an island version of the famous British plum pudding. It is traditionally served at Christmas and is a rich dark cake filled with dried fruit. Read on for more facts & information…
While the British plum pudding traditionally uses brandy to flavor the cake, brandy was not as available to Jamaicans so they substituted rum giving black cake a bit of a kick. The Jamaicans have no substitute for the hard sauce used on the traditional British dish.
How Is Jamaican Black Cake Made?
There are as many recipes for Jamaican Black Cake as there are Jamaican families on the island. Some of the recipes are quite complex Most begin with dried fruit like currants, raisins, prunes, apricots, dates, cherries and citron. Not all recipes use the same combinations of fruits but most call for the fruit to be soaked in rum before it is added to the cake batter. The cake is not baked, but steamed in the tradition of English puddings and Scottish dumplings. The batter is placed in a bowl or mold and then put in a pressure cooker. The alternative is to place the bowl or mold in a pan of water in the oven and cover it with a wet, buttered cloth. Black cake takes between three and four hours to cook.
Jamaican Black Cake for Weddings
Black cake is usually reserved for special occasions, but in addition to Christmas it may also be used as a wedding cake. When prepared as a wedding cake a boiled white frosting is applied to the cake before serving. Although the cake has many of the same ingredients as American fruitcake, it has a lighter less glutinous texture than fruitcakes while being darker in color. It is not uncommon for the top layer of American wedding cakes to be frosted fruitcakes but in Jamaica, the entire wedding cake is black cake.
Preparation Time for Jamaican Black Cake
Anyone planning to make a Jamaican black cake for Christmas should get started around September. Many recipes call for the fruit to sit and ferment for a week or more and most recipes recommend that the finished cake sit for several weeks or months before serving. The additional time allows additional fermentation and improves the flavor of this rich treat. Like American fruitcake, Jamaican black cake just doesn’t go bad, but unlike American fruitcake which no one eats, black cake really does improve with age and usually gets eaten as soon as it is served.
As a traditional Jamaican dish, black cake blends the culinary tastes of two cultures to make one terrific dish. While it probably shouldn’t be served to children, it is a great dessert for adult parties and is well worth the trouble of preparation. For those who don’t want to prepare their own, it is possible to buy black cake from Jamaican stores on the internet.