Jamaican Black Cake, also known as Jamaican rum cake, wedding cake or Christmas cake is a rich and decadent traditional Caribbean dessert! Dried fruit is soaked in rum for months up to a year then added to this fruit cake with warm spices and wine making it super moist with maximum flavour. This staple Caribbean dessert recipe is enjoyed year round, particularly during holidays like Christmas, weddings, and celebrations!
If you’re interested in more Jamaican dessert recipes, check out my Jamaican Coconut Drops next! Also, be sure to check out my recipe on How to Soak Fruit for Christmas Cake to get started on this classic Jamaican boozy treat!
Full recipe ingredients and instructions are available in the recipe card at the very bottom of this page (scroll or use the “jump to recipe” button located above.
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The BEST Jamaican Black Cake
It’s not a Jamaican celebration without rum cake! You may have tried traditional fruit cake but not with this tasty Caribbean twist! To the unfamiliar eye, this looks like a chocolate cake but the flavour is far more complex than that. It has a sweet robust taste with hints of rum, sugar, spice, and plenty of fruit.
Although the ingredients used to make this rum cake recipe are important, the technique is key. It’s not simply adding the dry ingredients to the wet. I tested this Jamaican Rum cake recipe multiple times in order to confidently say that this is the best rum cake recipe ever!
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Great for Special Occasions – Whether it’s Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day, this cake makes for a stunning centrepiece on your holiday table. It’s large and meant for sharing! It’s tradition to have this cake cut into little small pieces at weddings (coated in icing) or passed out in cake boxes for guests to take home after birthday parties.
- Perfectly Moist – There’s no need to worry about a dry fruit cake because the rum-infused fruit is pureed until it’s a thick and smooth consistency. Then it’s added to the batter for a deliciously moist black cake.
- As Authentic As it Gets – Some may like their rum cake on the cake-ier side but that’s not true to authentic Jamaican rum cake. This cake is fruity, boozy, and moist enough to melt in your mouth.
What is Jamaican Black Cake?
Jamaican rum cake is made with wine and rum-soaked raisins, cherries, prunes or other dried fruit. Browning contributes to the cake’s distinct dark hue and flavour. It’s also flavoured with spices, vanilla and molasses. Due to the extensive process, this cake is usually only served on holidays and for celebrations. It’s a truly special dessert.
What are the Other Names for Jamaican Black Cake?
This Jamaican treat has many names. However, they all reference the same delicious dessert. Here are a few:
- Fruit Cake
- Rum Cake
- Christmas Cake
- Wedding Cake
Why You Should Soak Your Fruit
- Rehydrates the Fruit – this keeps the fruits moist and juicy before baking, leading to a moist and tasty cake.
- Enhances Flavour – it’s one of the simplest ways to bring out the natural flavours of the fruit.
- Adds Richness and Texture – it boosts the richness and texture of Jamaican Christmas cake, and is an essential step.
For more information on soaking fruit for Jamaican black cake, check out this How to Soak Fruit for Christmas Cake blog post!
What’s the Best Rum for Soaking Fruit?
The best rum for soaking fruit for christmas cake or black/fruit cake is dark or white rum in combination with sweet fruit or dessert wine.
Traditionally, Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum and Red Label Wine are used for Jamaican christmas cake.
When Should I Soak my Fruit?
You can start to soak your fruit in real Jamaican rum for months, even years prior to when you will be ready to use them. However, at a minimum, you should soak your fruit for at least 7 days prior to using it in Jamaican black cake.
The longer the soaking time, the better as this allows enough time for it to “ripen” or mature for the yuletide season. Don’t worry about it spoiling because the alcohol preserves the fruit. Just seal it in an airtight container. Also, keep in mind that you will need to add more alcohol the longer the fruit sits.
What is Yuletide Season?
Yuletide can be used as another word for Christmas time or the Christmas season.
What You Need to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)
- 9-inch Round Cake Pan – plus an additional baking pan to hold water.
- Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer – to cream the butter and eggs.
- Wooden Spoon – for folding in ingredients.
- Large Mixing Bowl – to mix egg mixture.
- Measuring Cups – liquid and dry, to accurately measure ingredients.
- Measuring Spoons – to accurately measure ingredients.
- Rubber Spatula/Scraper – for scraping out the cake mixture from the bowl.
- Whisk – optional, needed if no hand mixer.
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
- Salted Butter – softened to room temperature. This is used in the batter and to grease the baking pan.
- Dark Brown Sugar – added moisture and sweetness. Make sure it is packed.
- Eggs – these should be room temperature.
- Vanilla Extract – for delicious vanilla-y flavour.
- Browning – this is responsible for that alluring dark hue. Check out this Homemade Browning Sauce for details.
- Molasses – sweetens and helps to darken the cake.
- Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg and Ground Allspice – these spices are the base of your flavour.
- All Purpose Flour – make sure it is spooned and leveled for accurate measuring.
- Baking Powder – provides lift and structure to this tall cake.
- Salt – to balance the flavours.
- Fruit for Christmas Cake – this can be added whole or blended. I prefer to puree until smooth for an evenly moist and textured black cake.
- Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum – to be added to fruit when pureeing. This is an extremely strong rum, but a Jamaican staple and classic.
- J. Wray & Nephew Red Label Wine– to be added to fruit when pureeing as well as to keep the cake moist after baking. Alternatively you can use a sweet red dessert wine. This has notes of candied berries, marzipan, raisins and nutmeg and even hints of dark chocolate.
- Lime – is used for juice and zest.
How to Make Jamaican Black Cake
Step One: Prep Cake Pans and Preheat Oven
Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C) and prepare a 9-inch round cake pan by greasing the bottom and sides using butter. Set aside an additional cake pan of water to be placed at the bottom of the oven during the baking process.
Step Two: Cream the Butter and Sugar
Add the butter and dark brown sugar to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 to 5 minutes). Set aside.
Step Three: Egg Mixture
Add eggs two at a time to another large bowl, and beat using a hand mixer or whisk until light yellow in colour and foamy on top (about 5 minutes). To the egg mixture add the vanilla, browning, molasses and gently mix using low speed (about 30 seconds). Then, add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, salt, and lime zest and gently mix using low speed again (about 30 seconds).
Step Four: Mix Ingredients
Pour egg mixture into the butter-sugar mixture, and fold well with a wooden spoon until fully mixed (about 3 minutes). Then fold in the pureed fruit mixture, and lastly the flour.
Step Five: Bake
Pour cake mixture into prepared cake pan and place into the oven along with the additional cake pan of water underneath (on the bottom rack) to ensure the cake does not dry out. Bake for approximately 2 hours (baking times will vary), cake is ready when a toothpick comes out clean or almost clean after inserting into the center of the cake.
Step Six: Soak the Cake
Once the Jamaican rum cake is done, remove it from the oven. Then place the cake pan on a cooling rack. Then, pour 1/2 cup of J. Wray & Nephew Red Label wine overtop while hot. Allow to soak into cake. Then when completely cooled, remove cake from pan, slice and enjoy!
Recipe Substitutions and Variations
These small changes come down to personal taste and preference. Here are a few ways to adjust the recipe:
- Type of Rum – You can use dark rum instead of white rum for a spicier flavour.
- Citrus Zest and Juice – Instead of lime, you can opt to use lemon or an orange for juice and zest.
- Divide and Gift – You can divide the batter and bake it in smaller pans for gifts. The baking time will be much faster this way too.
- Texture – For a more pudding-like cake, bake at 250°F (121°C).
Quick Soak (Boil) Method for Soaking Fruit
If you don’t have time to soak the fruit for Christmas cake, you can use the quick soak method on the stove. Here’s how you do it:
To a stockpot add 6 cups water. When it has come to a rapid boil, add one cup each of the following ingredients (ensure water covers all the fruit):
- Mixed Peel
- Deluxe Fruit Mix
- Prunes, halved
Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and let it simmer for approximately an hour to an hour and a half. When the fruit are plump and rehydrated, and the liquid has significantly reduced remove from heat. Let cool then add equal parts rum and wine (or as desired – just ensure fruits are completely covers in the alcohol). Allow fruits to soak for 24hrs, then proceed with making the cake.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
The longer Jamaican black cake sits, the better it tastes! Most commonly, you make this cake a week before you plan on serving it for best results. However, it’s hard not to dig in right away. If you do this, ensure the cake has completely cooled.
You can also serve Jamaican rum cake at room temperature, with or without icing. You can garnish it with maraschino cherries, whipped cream, or powdered sugar. You can also enjoy it with tea, coffee, or ice cream.
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
- Room Temp Ingredients – Bring the eggs, butter, and milk to room temperature an hour before baking. Simply leave the measured amount out on the counter.
- Fruit – to avoid chewing fruits while eating the cake, blend all the fruits together with the Red Label Wine and Wray and Nephew Overproof Rum.
- Pureed Rum-Soaked Fruit – The consistency of the pureed fruit should resemble a paste. It should not be lumpy or watery.
- Secondary Cake Pan with Water – Place a cake pan full of water on the bottom shelf of the oven while the cake bakes. The steam it generates will keep the rum cake moist.
- Yield – this recipe is for one 9-inch cake. If you want two cakes, simply double the recipe ingredients – this will yield two 9-inch cakes. If you prefer a smaller cake, divide the recipe ingredients in half (by two) and this will yield a smaller 6-inch cake.
- Cake Batter Readiness Test – A good test to determine whether your cake is ready for the oven is to stick a wooden spoon in the middle of the cake batter. If the spoons slowly begins to fall then rapidly falls to the side, you are set and cake ready for the oven!
- Add More Alcohol as Needed – Use more wine or rum to moisten the cake, as needed. Some add it to a clean spray bottle and mist the cake with alcohol every few days.
- Browning – this is key to getting the deep rich colour that makes black cake “black”. Depending on the brand of browning, you may need more or less than the amount listed. I used the Grace brand, other brands such as Bedessee Jamaica Pride brand you will need less. Also, be careful not to use too much (depending on brand) as it can leave a bitter after taste.
- Breadcrumbs – if you prefer a more cakier (cake-like texture), you can add 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs and 1 cup flour.
Can I Make this Ahead of Time?
Jamaican rum cake is the perfect make-ahead dessert, in fact, it is highly recommended. This cake just gets better with time! See below for instructions regarding how to store the cake at room temperature, in the fridge, and in the freezer.
Storage Instructions and Tips
Room Temperature – Store leftover rum cake in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in a combination of parchment paper and aluminum foil, or just foil. Place it in a cool place, out of the sun for up to a few weeks or longer depending on how well it is preserved.
Refrigerated – If you plan to consume the cake at a much later date, considering storing in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in a combination of parchment paper and aluminum foil, or just foil in the refrigerator.
Frozen – wrap a rum-soaked cheesecloth around the cake, followed by a combination of plastic wrap first, followed by aluminum foil. Be sure not to wrap it directly in foil because it will spoil. Freeze the rum cake for up to 6 month or longer, refreshing every 2-4 weeks with a spray bottle reserved for spritzing wine, rum, or a combination of the two.
When you want to enjoy it, let it thaw at room temperature and spray with the alcohol mixture to refresh the flavours.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Believe it or not, when properly stored, rum cake can last for 6 months or longer.
Having one slice of rum cake will not make you drunk. However, it is possible to get a buzz but you would have to eat a significant amount of cake in order for that to happen.
Yes. Jamaican rum cake has a mix of Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum as well as J. Wray & Nephew Red Label Wine.
Refrigeration or freezing is not necessary, however it will preserve the cake for longer without changing the quality or taste.
Bake the cake at least 3-5 days or longer before serving for optimal taste and flavour.
Absolutely! An 8-inch or 9-inch cake pan both work very well with this recipe.
No, you do not have to use molasses. If you do choose to use it, you will not taste it distinctively in the overall cake.
Yes you can, and the recipe/baking temp. remains the same.
You can omit the rum, and just use the wine. As well, pour less wine overtop cake when finished baking.
Yes, switch the settings from “US CUSTOMARY” to “METRIC” located under the ingredients header in the recipe card.
If you prefer a more cakier (cake-like texture), you can add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and 1 cup flour.
See My Story Below for Step-by-Step Instructions
Interested in more Jamaican Recipes? Check These Out!
- Jamaican Escovitch Fish
- Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
- Jamaican Rice and Peas
- Jamaican Fried Dumpling
- Jamaican Curry Shrimp (Seafood)
- Vegan Jamaican Bulgur Wheat & Peas (Rice & Peas Remix)
- Jamaican Rasta Pasta
- Quick & Easy Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Jamaican Black Cake
- 9-inch Round Cake Pan plus an additional baking pan to hold water
- Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer to cream the butter and eggs
- Wooden Spoon for folding in ingredients
- Large Mixing Bowl to mix egg mixture
- Measuring Cups liquid and dry, to accurately measure ingredients
- Measuring Spoons to accurately measure ingredients
- Rubber Spatula/Scraper for scraping out the cake mixture from bowl
- Whisk optional, needed if no hand mixer
- 1/2 cup Salted Butter softened to room temp. plus more for greasing baking pan
- 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar packed
- 6 Large Eggs room temp.
- 2 tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 5 tbsp Browning or Homemade Browning Sauce
- 2 tbsp Molasses
- 1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp Ground Allspice
- 1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour spooned and leveled
- 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2 cups Fruit for Christmas Cake pureed until smooth, with the rum and wine listed below. OR use the quick soak method for preparing fruit. See notes.
- 1/4 cup Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum to be added to fruit when pureeing
- 1/4 cup J. Wray & Nephew Red Label Wine to be added to fruit when pureeing
- Juice from 1/2 Lime
- Zest from 1/2 Lime
For After Baking
- 1/2 cup J. Wray & Nephew Red Label Wine to pour overtop cake as soon as it comes out the oven.
- Red Label Wine and White Overproof Rum combined as desired, to spritz cake every few days.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C) and prepare a 9-inch round cake pan by greasing the bottom and sides using butter. Set aside an additional cake pan of water to be placed at the bottom of the oven during the baking process.
- Add the butter and dark brown sugar to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 to 6 minutes). Set aside.
- Add eggs to another large bowl, and beat using a hand mixer or whisk until light yellow in colour and foamy on top (about 3 to 5 minutes). To the egg mixture add the vanilla, browning, molasses, lime juice and gently mix using low speed (about 30 seconds). Then, add cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, salt, and lime zest and gently mix using low speed again (about 30 seconds).
- Pour egg mixture into the butter-sugar mixture, and fold well with a wooden spoon until fully mixed (about 3 minutes). Then fold in the pureed fruit mixture, and lastly the flour.
- Pour cake mixture into prepared cake pan and place into the oven along with the additional cake pan of water underneath (on the bottom rack) to ensure the cake does not dry out. Bake for approximately 2 hours (baking times will vary), cake is ready when a toothpick comes out clean or almost clean after inserting into the center of the cake.
- Once cake done, remove from oven and place cake pan on a cooling rack. Then, pour 1/2 cup of J. Wray & Nephew Red Label wine overtop while hot. Allow to soak into cake. Then when completely cooled, remove cake from pan, slice and enjoy!