How To Make the Best Trinidad Black Cake Ever

24.11.20 | Recipe by Renz

A decadent cake made using rum-soaked fruits that would leave you begging for another slice. This Trinidad black cake is the perfect mix of sweet, tart with a citrus hint. I can assure you your guests would love this for the holiday season.

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

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

They may be made slightly differently, but they are all the same thing. The perfect Caribbean Christmas cake.

This is the type of cake that makes people delirious. Just like my cassava black cake.

What is black 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 can last for months. It's the type of cake people used to make their wedding cakes because it's so dense.

Ingredients for black cake

Now, this is a lot of items. The cake is packed with a lot of fruit and the fruit has been soaking in rum to bring out a lot of flavors.

Your fruits:

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. I first go to my Latin/Caribbean supermarkets to find my fruits in bulk.

If I am unable to get them there then I will venture to my regular supermarkets and get them in the boxes.

A tray of currants, raisins, sultanas, prunes before they go to grind with the rum and cherry brandy.

For the cake:

These things are your regular items for baking.

  • All-purpose Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • Eggs
  • 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.
  • Mixed peel
  • Almonds (optional)
  • Vanilla essence
  • Lime rind
  • Browning (make your own) - I honestly only use Grace browning in the little bottle for my cakes. In the larger bottles, the consistency is very watery and takes more to get the color I like, while diluting the mix. The other brands I feel do the same.


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How to soak fruits

There are different methods people use to prepare their fruits for baking.

The most common method is to get them ready prior to the baking time. Sometimes a month, a 3-4 months, or even a year out.

For this method, the way I do it, you are basically just grinding all your fruits together with the cherry brandy and the rum.

You can decide to make it as chunky or as smooth as you prefer.

I do not include my cherries or the mixed peel in my fruits to soak. I personally prefer to have some chunks of fruit in the cake after. So I omit it at this stage and add them in when mixing the cake batter.

But you can grind them in here if you choose.

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.

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

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.

You can grind the fruits prior to steaming or you can grind them after steaming to get them to the size you want.

Finished black cake with red cherries on a white plate

Why unsalted butter?

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.

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 are easily found in Walmart.

How to make Trinidad black cake

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

I personally prefer it to be a little crumbly/smooth over it being pudding-like in texture.

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.

You should at least have a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar. 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.

Once the eggs have been beaten till it looks like they doubled, add that egg mixture to the creamed butter and sugar.

If you used a small bowl to cream then transfer to your large bowl now.

Now start to fold in the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. You can make a flour mixture first then add it to the mixture.

Now add your fruit mixture to the flour mix. 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 in your browning.

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.

Remember this is a dark cake, so don't be too worried if you make it too dark. Just keep your eye on the consistency as you add.

Also, make sure when mixing you are getting to the bottom of the mix and bringing it to the top.

Once mixed together, add to your baking pans (See notes below for best practice with pans) and pop it into the oven.

Bake it on the middle rack of your oven.

Once out of the oven and cooling, start to brush the tops with the boozy bath we made with brandy and rum.

With a basting brush, a finished caked is being basted with cherry brandy and rum mix.

Tips & 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.

  • Texture: 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, just don't grind less.

  • Also, try not to over mix too much. This 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.

  • Pans: Your pans need to be very well greased. You have different options for preparing your pans.

    Options can be the straight pan greased with butter and then floured; a greased pan then line pans with parchment paper or wax paper, or just spray pans with aerosol sprays.

  • 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 on a white plate

How long can black cake last?

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 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 with some cherries

I cannot tell you enough how much black cake is just a part of a Caribbean Christmas. Even the process of baking is a communal effort.

Once you start smelling this baking, you know the season is here.

And don't forget to pair it with some other Caribbean Christmas favorites:


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

    1. Haha.. exactly. Home drum must beat first :)

  2. Renz, you didn't lie your Mom makes THE BEST black cake! I made it for the first time today and my husband who loves black cake enjoyed it. It was smooth, moist and everything a black cake should be. I don't need to ever look for another recipe. Your details made all the difference. Love from Trinidad.

    1. Yaaay. I had to send her a screenshot of this message. Thank you so much for trying AND for reviewing. It is really a great cake recipe!!

  3. I have searched over the years for the perfect Trini black cake recipe and was never successful. The cakes never tasted like I remembered growing up in Trinidad.
    THEN I found your website, and YES, your mom makes the best black cake ever, I followed your recipe exactly, and I even got cherry brandy from Trinidad ! I made it yesterday and made four small cakes so I can give as gifts, one is almost gone, and I don’t think I’ll be giving it away , keeping them lol . I LOVE THIS CAKE!! Hugs to your mom, merry Xmas to you and yours

  4. June 2023 Your cake is just as you said it would be, moist and delicious, I can’t wait to make it for Christmas. I only did half the recipe but I will do it again.

  5. What is mixed peel and how much do I need? I am making this for Christmas.

    1. It's a mix of dried fruit. You might see it also called Tutti Frutti or Fruit and peel. If you google "mixed peel" the pic will show. It's found easily in supermarkets.


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