For all those Scrooges out there who claim not to like fruitcake, it’s time you gave the Caribbean version a try, as something very special is going on here. It’s the browning in part, which adds a slight bitter note — a welcome twist to the normal fruitcake sweet explosion. The fresh citrus zest brings a delicate little twang to the party, and hello — the wine and the rum. That’s good livin’, Jamaica style. So throw on your favorite Wailing Souls record and let’s get after this.
Begin by gathering your ingredients, preheating your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, and lining two lubricated 9″ x 2″ cake pans.
Now go get that dusty bucket of fruit you’ve been macerating since last December (this year I’m actually doing that). It should look rich and lovely and smell like the world’s strongest rum cocktail.
You want to apply your food processor to that. Pulse until the fruit is finely chopped. Don’t make a complete paste out of it. This may be a bit fine for some, but it worked very well for me. A few whole raisins and date halves left.
You’re going to have a heck of a lot of chopped fruit. So much in fact that you’ll wonder how it’ll possibly fit into two 9′ x 2″ cake rounds. Don’t worry, it will. However in the meantime put it into your biggest bowl.
That step done, sift your flour, spices and leavening into a medium bowl and set it aside:
Now for the wet stuff. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.
Beat that until it’s light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time:
The mixture will look a little clumpy and broken when you’re done (especially of your eggs were still a little chilly) but just ignore that. Stir in your zest and at least three tablespoons of browning. For a darker cake, add more. I think I put in about 5 tablespoons.
Your three preparations ready, you are cleared to mix. First stir the egg-and-sugar mixture into the fruit, then fold in the flour mixture.
You’ll have a TON of batter. But amazingly, it’ll fit into your two pans. See?
I know, there’s no room for rising. But they scarcely rise at all. See? You want to bake about two hours, until the cake pull away from the sites and a cake tester or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. A little gooey fruit is OK, just nothing that looks like batter.
You might get a few cracks, but don’t let them bother you since we’re going to turn these things upside-down. Though not before we brush on some more rum, obviously.
OH yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. You want to do that about every 30 minutes until the cakes are completely cool…about two hours. Or five hours if you want to be absolutely sure. Ehem.
So. When you’re ready to de-pan, lay some long strips of cheesecloth over a cardboard cake round, and flip that over onto the cake pan, then flip the whole works back over. Gently remove the pan and the parchment strips and you’ll have something that looks like this:
Now just wrap the cheesecloth around the cake.
You can apply a layer of tin foil to that if you want to cure the cake for a while. I suggest at least 3-4 days of curing, brushing of course with rum ever day or so to keep the cake well inebriated.
The texture of this cake is moist and dense, but not gummy. Very reminiscent of a British pudding (which it is, more or less). Mrs. Pastry tends not to like fruitcakes. However I left this piece near her in the kitchen as I was cleaning up. It got steadily smaller over about half an hour until it disappeared completely. That’s what I call success.
I like it with nuts since they make a nice texture contrast. A dollop of soft whipped cream would make this perfect I think. I’m not sure if that’s traditional, but that’s how it’s going to be served come Christmas Day. If this how they do Christmas in the Caribbean, I should have moved to Trinidad a long time ago.