Image © Sarina Bland
“Traditional Caribbean Christmas cake is more like a pudding when baked, therefore the use of rice flour and cassava flour adds the right texture to this cake. Dare your family and friends to tell the difference between this and a Christmas cake made with wheat flour.” – Sarina Bland, TriniGourmet
For the Cake:
1 lb. unsalted butter (use margarine for pareve)
1 lb. sugar
1 tsp. lemon essence
2 tsp. lime rind (zested)
2 tsp. almond essence
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cassava flour + 1/2 lb. rice flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. mixed spice
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 more bottle of rum
For the Fruit Base:
1 lb. pitted prunes
1 lb. raisins
1 lb. currants
1 bottle cherry brandy
1 bottle rum and/or Bailey’s
2 Tbsp. Angostura bitters
For the Browning:
1 lb. brown sugar
1/2 cup boiling hot water
Three to five days before: up to five days before you make the cake, chop all the fruits for the fruit base. Place in a large bowl; pour in Angostura bitters, cherry brandy and rum (I use Bailey’s when I have extra cash – it makes it extra special!).
Leave in a cool corner, covered, to soak up the liquor.
On the day of:
- prepare the fruit base: in a blender, blend the soaked fruit and juices until thick and still a bit chunky (like tomato sauce). If you have been macerating your fruit for a minimum of a month in advance you can skip this step.
- prepare the browning: burn sugar until caramelized and carefully add hot water gradually. Mix well and let cool.
- make the cake: preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Cream the butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate.
Add lemon essence, lemon zest, almond essence and vanilla.
Sift and mix flour, baking powder, mixed spice and nutmeg then gradually add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture. Mix in fruit base puree and ‘browning’.
Pour batter into greased tins that have been doubly lined with brown paper or parchment paper. Bake for 3 hours.
Once removed from the oven soak the tops with equal portions of the remaining bottle of rum. Don’t be surprised if the top of the cake starts to look pale and ‘weird’.
– For those who avoid alcohol soaking can be done using grape or apple juice!
– Three to five days before is the best option for soaking but 24 hours minimum if you must be ‘so last-minute’!