Thursday, December 23, 2010

A West Indian Christmas Fruit Cake

Alas, another popular Christmas cake! This is my moms favorite cake during Christmas time. Over the years we have battled with different recipes to achieve the perfect fruit cake.  Last year we finally came to a conclusion that this is the recipe for a real Caribbean fruit cake! I call this a West Indian fruit cake because to my knowledge, it is only in the West Indies that this cake is made this way.  Now this is no ordinary fruit cake.  If you are looking for a recipe that has whole pieces of fruit and nut in it, then I sincerely apologize, because this is  not the recipe for you!

However, if you are looking for a fruit cake recipe that has a moist, dense texture, with minced fruit that has been soaking in red wine for god knows how long, then you have come to the right place.

Don't you just want to bite into this? Yumm!!

This is actually my Aunt Eva's recipe.  She was a home economics teacher in Guyana many many years ago.  My mom frequently calls her for special recipes such as this one and we are usually amazed at how she can recite the recipe from her head, like the way we all know our social security number, just rolls off the tongue, know what I'm saying? A classic Caribbean fruit cake is a basic pound cake recipe with almost equal parts of pureed fruit added to it.  The result is a dense, moist cake that really has a give to it when you bite in. 

Prepare to Soak the Dried Fruits in Red Wine

Okay I know this picture doesn't look appetizing, but it is what it is people, dried fruits in wine!

Although it seems easy on paper, there are a few extra steps in making this cake and it all starts with soaking the fruits.  You will need 1lb of each of the following dried fruits: prunes, raisins, and currants. Those fruits need to be blended with one 750ml bottle of red port wine. Some people actually add rum to the mixture as well.  It's all about your preference!  The dried fruits need to be soaked in the wine for at minimum 3-4 weeks.  Some people even soak these fruits for up to one year!  The rule is, the longer it soaks the more the fruits absorb the wine, giving the cake a better flavor.  My mom actually soaked these fruits long before I arrived to Florida so I apologize for not having any pictures to share with you of that process.
Now lets move on to actually making the cake!

add the eggs a little at a time, you don't want to separate your
 creamed mixture of butter and sugar

after you have added all the eggs add 3 1/2 cups of the fruit mixture.  
Stir it in and make sure it is all incorporated

Add some vanilla and lemon zest to the batter, 
some people add orange and lime zest as well, its all about your own preference

In a separate bowl, sift all your dry ingredients together. 
My mom used freshly grated nutmeg, the ground one in the store is just as good. 

after you mix in all the flour, do the spatula test to feel out the texture of the batter,
 if the spatula stands up, then it is ready to go into the oven!

Pour into a 9in square pan.  This batter will make two 9in pans. 

Out of the oven!

West Indian Christmas Fruit Cake
(Makes two 9in round or square pans)


Fruit Mixture
  • 1 lb raisins
  • 1 lb prunes
  • 1 lb currants
  • lemon, lime, orange zest (optional)
  • 1 750ml bottle of port wine
Cake Batter
  • 1 lb butter
  • 1 lb sugar
  • 1 lb flour
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (add 1tsp if you like a lot of nutmeg)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 1/2 cups of blended fruit mixture

For the mixed fruit:
  1. Empty all the dried fruits into a bowl and mix with your hand.
  2. A little at a time, add fruit and wine to your blender until it has blended into chunks. You do not want a puree here! You can also do this in a food processor, just be sure to blend the fruits slightly.
  3. Pour fruit mixture into a large container and let it soak for at minimum 3-4 weeks.  Some people let it soak for up to 1 year.
For the cake batter:
  1. Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs a few at a time.
  2. Add 3 1/2 cups of the fruit mixture, the vanilla and lemon zest (and whatever other zests you would like to use). Mix together.
  3. Sift all dry ingredients together and add to the batter a little at a time.
  4. Your spatula or a small spoon should be able to stand up in the batter, this is how you will know it is ready.
  5. Pour into a 9 in square pan, and bake for 55 minutes at 300 degrees.  You can check the cake after 40 minutes.  The toothpick should come out clean.  Another way to know the cake is almost ready is when the edges start to look dry and shiny.
  6. *I will note here that everyone's oven heats up differently.  So the baking time may not be exact for everyone.  Just keep checking the cake after 40 min and in 10 minute increments thereafter.
  7. This cake is a very moist and wet cake, it is not supposed to be dry, if your cake comes out dry then you have over baked it.
  8. Let the cake cool completely before cutting and tasting, tasting it hot will mislead you to the actual taste.  Enjoy and please email me with any questions!

the cake was cut up and ready to put into treat bags!

Have a Merry Christmas!! 


  1. I love your tree! I will be bookmarking this recipe, I've been looking for a fruit cake recipe to try and this looks great. Looks very moist..the only think I will do different is soak my cake in rum :-). Thx

  2. OMG, look how perfectly that cake is sliced! :)

  3. Hi Alicia , Luv you Site , I ve have been coming back since Christmas , I followed this recipe and the first time my Cake came out perfect... thanks so much and plez keep adding more recipes. The pictures are excellent too.. Keep up the good work and Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi. Thanks for the recipe but can you tell me what brand and age of port wine you used? This is my first time making this at all and I've had a hard time finding "real" recipes.

    1. Hi Serena,

      I used port wine, here is a photo

  5. Hello. I love your recipe. Any idea of the weight of this cake. In terms of pounds

  6. Hi Alica, just stumbled upon your blog and love it! Will email you with questions re this fruit cake. Many thanks.

  7. My family uses rum. But everything else is spot on.

  8. Hi,

    How many 9×9 inch cake does all the ingredients and 3 lbs of fruits make?I hope its not just one?

  9. Hi Alicia, usually I would have my aunts fruit cake laced with rum but unfortunately I am unable to have any due to my pregnancy this year and would like to know how could I substitute the rum or wine ?

  10. Hi Alicia....I made the cake....this week for my hubby's office get together. ....I am not a baker at all....this is my 3rd cake that I made was super soft moist and dense...just the way I always loved cakes.Thanks a tonne to make my Christmas and new year sweeter than ever.

  11. Thanks so much for this recipe. When measuring in lb does 1 lb = 16 oz? I know it differs for dry and liquid just want to make sure I should be using 2 cups flour . Ty

  12. Thank you for your delicious dishes and for the continuous hard work. Just a quick question if i may. How can i substitute the alcohol? We do not consumer any alcohol so the wine is not an option. Would "White Grape Juice" work? Thanks!!

  13. Hi Alicia, I was wondering if your Aunt's name was Eva Peters, that was the name of my Home Economics teacher and she was a great lady.

  14. Hi Alicia, I was wondering in your Aunt's name was Eva Peters, you mentioned that she was a Home Economics teacher, that was the name of my Home Economics teacher, great lady.

  15. Hi Alicia, do you have a recipe for Black Cake?

  16. I am surprised how many want to lace this recipie with rum. This is meant to be the classic recipie for the entire family. It is not a black cake. The rum content in a quality port in just enough for this amaxing cake. Also if the fruits are soaked way in advanced you never have to use a blender. This cake was inveted before our fore parents had access and knowledge of blenders. Well soaked fruits just melt into the batter perfectly. Thanks for sharing. I have made this cake with a slight variation based on where i was born but you have provided an authentic recipie. Thanks again.

  17. I made this last night, best Christmas fruit cake ever.

  18. Thank you so much for this recipe which made it possible for me to confidently make my first West Indian Christmas fruit cake. The results were fabulous.
    While I followed your recipe fairly closely, I made a few changes to suit the guests I shall be having, such as soaking the fruits with 1/2 a bottle of rum as well, and baked the cake at 325 for one hour knowing that we all like our cakes to be a bit dryer than moist, also I baked the cake in two 9 in round pans so that I can decorate one of the cakes, using parchment paper at the bottom and around the sides, and added another cup of fruit to the recipe.
    Thank you for making a shy baker into a confident one. After researching Martha Steward, Delia Smith, Nigella Lawson, and Jamie Oliver for a good Christmas Fruit Cake, I found your recipe and method and instructions the best and am so pleased and thankful for your labors of love in sharing this gem of a recipe that brings back so many wonderful memories of my childhood.
    Yours truly,
    One thankful Guyanese girl who now lives in Ontario.

  19. Hey I am new to this blog and I was wondering if you have a black cake recipe. I am planning to soak my fruits for this recipe to try for next year and was thinking of also trying a black cake recipe.