Trinidad Black Cake

November 24, 2020

A decadent cake made using rum-soaked fruits that would leave you begging for another slice.

Perfect for your guests this holiday season.

A whole black cake with red cherries on top resting on a white plate

I bring to you the best Trinidad black cake recipe.

Black cake is the ultimate Christmas cake in the Caribbean.

All the islands indulge in some form and the name can vary: Jamaican rum cake, Trinidad black cake, Barbados rum cake.

They may be made slightly differently but they are all the same thing.

The perfect Caribbean Christmas cake.

Popularly known as "black cake" but sometimes can be called fruit cake or rum cake.

The reference to the “black cake” is because of the color. “Fruit cake” since we use so many types of dried fruits. And well “rum cake” because, well it's soaked in rum.

This is not your regular cake.

The smell of this making plays amazingly with your senses.

The sweet, the tart, the rum.

These things are so decadent that they sometimes last for months.

It's the type of cake people used to make their wedding cakes because it's so heavy.

This cake makes people delirious. Just ask my co-worker who I gifted a slice and he ate it up in no time.

What is black cake made of?

Please do not be fooled by the name of "fruit". The fruits in this cake are usually dried fruits like currants, raisins, prunes, sultanas.

We also add cherries, mixed peel and some people put almonds.

The fruits are combined then soaked or steamed and left for a week, or a month or even up to a year or more.

This soaking of fruits in rum takes the cake to another level. And sometimes it's soaking for over a year.

For cherries, I prefer to use maraschino cherries. I don't really like the taste of the dried red cherries but it can be used instead of the maraschino.

The texture of this cake is a heavy one. It can be heavy and a slightly crumbly texture to an even more steamed pudding texture.

I personally prefer it to be a little crumbly/smooth over it being pudding-like in texture.
A tray of currants, raisins, sultanas, prunes showing the fruits needed to grind

How to soak fruits for black cake

If this is the method you choose to go with this is quite easy.

You are basically just grinding all your fruits together with the cherry brandy and the rum.

Here you can decide to make it as chunky or as fine as you wish.

I do not include cherries or the mixed peel here. I personally prefer to have some chunks of both these things in the cake after. So I omit it at this stage.

I add them in when mixing the cake batter.

You can grind them in here or add them in after. It is up to you.

Once combined, add them to a clean glass jar with a tight cover and leave to sit.

Add more brandy if needed to make sure it’s not too lumpy.

My favorite cherry brandy to use is Dekuyper. It is not sweet and has a nice level of alcohol.

A tray of dried fruits used laid out before grinding in rum

How to steam fruits for black cake

If you are short on time. Say you need fruits for a cake the next day. There's also the option to steam your fruits.

How you deal with your fruits is totally up to you.

That is if you want to grind them prior to steaming or you wait until after steaming to grind.

The point of steaming is to get your fruits, tender, and soaked as quickly as possible. This is to be done on a low flame. No high boiling.

Add fruits, rum, and cherry brandy to the pot and steam away.

Once tender, make sure the fruits cool all the way down prior to use.

They MUST be at room temperature before baking.

Hot or warm fruits will spoil your cake.

So make sure you steam a day or two before you plan to make your cake.

Why use unsalted butter when baking?

You would notice that I mentioned unsalted butter in the recipe. Did you even know there was unsalted butter?

Well, salted butter has salt added to it, which means that you can't have any control over the salt amounts.

Unsalted butter is best used to get that pure, cream flavor of butter. So great for pound cakes, cookies, and black cake.

It allows the natural flavors to come through from the other things, like the raisins, currants, rum.

You might even find some recipes asking for use of unsalted butter THEN ask you to add salt. That is so that you have better control of the salt content in the recipe.

A history lesson. In the olden days, when my grandmother and sorts would be making a cake for the village members, they had to "wash" salted butter to get unsalted butter to make their black cake.

To get their butter unsalted they would soak the salted butter in water and had to use a wooden spoon to stir this butter in a calabash or bowl.

Then they would have to throw out that water and add fresh water to go again.

I guess the same way we would have to desalt saltfish I guess.

Thanking these companies for making unsalted available, cause I would not be "washing" any butter.

Brands I like to use are Kerrygold and Land - o - lakes. Land-o-lakes is easily found in Walmart.

But back to this cake.
Finished black cake with red cherries on a white plate

How to make Trinidad black cake

My mom makes the best black cake. YES, I SAID IT. I am not the only one that says so.

All my friends rave about "Aunty's black cake" so know that you are going to be getting one of the best black cakes ever.

It's flavorful, rich, and heavy. All the things you want in a black cake.

Once you have decided how you are doing your fruits above, make sure you have 4 pounds of that set aside to combine with the batter.

This will be a low bake so set your oven to 225.

Having a stand mixer is the easiest way but it’s not always what people have.

A hand mixer at least, to cream the butter and sugar and after that, you can make sure you have a large bowl to continue the rest of the mixing.


While butter is creaming, mix together those eggs with the essence and lime rind. If you have a blender, use it.

Then we will add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar. If you used a small bowl to cream then transfer to your large bowl now.

Then incorporate egg mixture.

Now start to fold in the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. You can mix these together first then add to the mixture.

Add your soaked fruits. If you didn’t add your mixed peel, cherries while grinding, add them in now, along with almonds if using.

Now here is where you add your browning. I usually stick to Grace brand browning in the small bottle. I’ve tried the larger bottles and they are more watery and I had to use more to get the color I wanted.

So add the amount of browning I have listed and if it’s not as dark as you would like, add more, about a ¼ cup at a time till you get it to what you want.

Once mixed together, add to your baking pans and pop it into the oven.

A basting brush basting the trinidad black cake after baking

Tips and Tricks

Here are some major keys and little tricks we’ve done to get these batches out.

Make sure that you get all your ingredients to room temperature.

Take your eggs and butter out from the night before.

I like a smooth textured cake, so I grind my fruits up very fine in my blender when I am putting them to soak. If you like it a little chunkier, then just don’t grind it too much

Try not to over mix too much. Which is why I also suggested getting a large bowl to use. After butter is creamed and eggs mix, move everything to a large bowl and use a wooden spoon.

This makes a 1 pound batch of cake so it’s a good amount of batter.

Your pans need to be very well greased. Options can be greased with butter and floured, greased and wax paper, or spray pans with aerosol.

I use spray. Either pam baking spray or Baker’s Joy

DO NOT try to remove the cake from the pans until the next day. It needs to cool. While cooling, keep basting the cake with rum and brandy mix. But do not make it too wet.

You can continue to baste, if you have more after you take it out of the pan.

A slice of black cake with some cherries

How long can black cake last?

It can laaast.

I have cake sometimes for up to a year.

Traditionally, these cakes are used for wedding cakes. It’s the tradition to take the top layer of the cake and eat it on your first year anniversary.

That the cake is usually put in the freezer.

But outside it can be good for another 6 months if it lasts that long. The best way to keep it amazing is to wrap it in cling wrap a few times and store it in an airtight container.

It is also best practice to give it some bastings of rum and cherry brandy mix at least a few times to keep it extra moist.
A slice of black cake on a white plate

Now to serve your guests make sure you add in some other Caribbean Christmas favorites:
Ponche ah creme
Ginger beer
Chow chow

Trinidad black cake, Trinidad fruit cake, Jamaican rum cake
Yield: 3
Author: Renz
Trinidad Black Cake

Trinidad Black Cake

A decadent Caribbean black cake (rum fruit cake), popularly made in the Caribbean around Christmas time using rum-soaked fruits of raisins, prunes, currants.
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 2 H & 30 MTotal time: 2 H & 45 M


For Fruits
For cake


For fruits
  1. Add fruits to blender and grind
  2. Add rum in parts as the liquid to grind. (grind in batches if need)
  3. Store in an airtight container until needed
To make cake
  1. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans. (See note 1)
  2. Heat oven to 225 degrees F.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. In a blender beat eggs with essence and lime rind. Beat well
  5. Add beaten eggs mixture to creamed butter and sugar.
  6. When well mixed, fold in the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  7. Add soaked fruits, mixed peel, cherries, and almonds if using to the mixture.
  8. Add browning till you get the the desired color. (See note 2) 
  9. Stir well.
  10. Pour mixture into cake pans and bake for 2 ½ hrs or until the tester comes out clean
  11. Remove from oven and baste with 1/4 cup rum and 1/4 cup cherry brandy. This can be done until the cake is cooled or all the mixture is used. (Usually next day)
  12. Cakes must be all the way cooled before being removed from the pan


*Note 1: I sometimes get 3 cake pans depending on how thick I want the cake for that time. If cake pans are more than 1 inch in height you will need less pans.

*Note 2: Desired color may vary. Some people like their cake light and some like it very dark. Start with 1/4 cup browning and mix. And keep adding 1/4 cup at a time till desired color comes.

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Picture of black cake with text overlay to use on pinterest

Renz HomeMadeZagat
Renz HomeMadeZagat

Hi guys, I’m Renz. I am the chief cook and bottle washer here at HomeMadeZagat. I am here sharing Caribbean recipes that I grew up eating and new ones I’ve fallen in love with over the years. I just want to showcase the amazing diversity of Caribbean food and that everyone can recreate these dishes.


  1. Guess every islander will say the black cake from their respective country/lsland is the best. Home drums beat first i suppose.


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