A jar of soaked fruits is the key ingredient in Guyanese Black Cake. These once dried fruits now plump and boozy, then macerated into a smooth paste are a treasure in Guyanese homes, especially at Christmas. Most have jars of fruits soaking for years, hidden in pantries and the back of kitchen cupboards. With this recipe you will soon be doing the same!
In this post I am sharing my process for soaked fruits––fruits macerated in wine and rum, and all the details to have the best foundation to black and fruit cakes!
Choosing the right combination of fruits
There are many combinations of fruits that you can use for your soaked fruits. Growing up in Guyana we had three or four cashew trees. When cashew was in season we picked buckets of cashews, dice them up, cook them, then soaked them in wine. Those were the most delicious fruits and made an equally delicious black cake. I can't be bothered with making my own fruits from scratch. With three little kiddos where would I find the time? So I use a combination of dried fruits that I soak in rum and wine to create my soaked fruits.
My favorite combination of fruits is prunes, currants and raisins. These flavors are mellow and not over powering. So what you really taste is the rum and wine in the cake and not strong fruit flavors. This combination also makes a really dark fruit which helps with the color of the black cake.
Some people also add mixed peel and maraschino cherries to their soaked fruits. I really don't like the taste of these additions in black cake but would gladly put it in my fruit cake. There is really no holy grail fruits combination. Do whatever you like. I would just avoid fruits that have tiny bits like strawberries or blackberries or even figs. Please don't use figs. I did one year and it was terrible.
Two ways to soak the fruits
There are two different ways to soak fruits:
- Grind your fruits up with wine and rum and store in an air tight container.
- Add whole dried fruits to wine and rum and soak until you are ready to bake, then grind the fruits up in a blender or food processor. Note: Some people don't add rum to their soaked fruits, just wine. I do both because I like the potent flavor it gets after it has been soaking for some time.
Ideally you want to make your soaked fruits at least a month before you are going to bake your black cake or sponge cake, but if you are in a pinch cooking the fruits in wine on medium to low heat for about thirty minutes then leaving it to soak overnight before grinding it up will help to speed up the infusion process and still produce a tasty cake.
Better yet if you cook the fruits in a bottle of wine for 4-6 hours in the slow cooker no one would ever know it wasn't soaking for months.
I once made a cake with cooked fruits that I let sit for 3 days and no one knew my fruits weren't soaking for at least a month. Shhh don't tell anyone. Guyanese people will catch a fit if your fruits aren't soaking for an entire year before baking your black cake. But I got you. Life isn't always perfect and sometimes you need black cake in a pinch.
Step by step how to prepare your soaked fruits
When we lived in Guyana we only had a blender and my mom blended her soaked fruits to a smooth paste in that blender. It was a little Hamilton Beach blender but it was powerful. I like to grind my fruits in the food processor to create a smooth paste, but a good blender does the trick as well.
Here I am using the grind first then soak process to make my soaked fruits. I add the fruits a little at a time keeping the ratio of the different fruits consistent so that I have a well blended mixture of fruits.
I add rum and wine to the food processor and process until it forms a really smooth paste. The smoother the better.
Be careful with how much liquid goes into the food processor or it will make a bit of a mess. If you are using a blender, ensure that you have enough liquid to blend so that your blender does not overheat.
Blending the fruits to a smooth paste really helps with the texture of the black cake. The smoother the fruits the more pudding like your black cake will be. And I love my cake with that pudding texture, dense and moist. You will also want to find a good port wine or strong red wine for your fruits. Oh how I wish I could get some Banko wine for a bit of nostalgia! But I find that a good porto amplifies the flavor.
When your processed fruits come to a texture similar to the photo above you have achieved perfection and are on your way to the best black cake ever! I could spoon this and eat it like this. Who am I kidding? I definitely eat some every time I am making soaked fruits.
When I am done grinding up all of the fruits I add them to a large mason jar. I then add some more wine and rum. I give it a good stir and seal it up tightly. And my soaked fruits are ready to sit and marinade and ferment until I am ready to bake. A great tip to ensure you always have soaked fruit on hand for any cake emergencies, is to replace your soaked fruits with a new batch every time you use the batch you had soaking!
Printable Recipe Card
Soaked Fruits—Fruits Macerated in wine and rum
- 2 lbs Raisins
- 1 lb Pitted Prunes
- 1 lb Currants
- 4 cups wine
- 1 cup Caribbean Brown Rum
- Mix together raisins, prunes and currants in a large mixing bowl
- In a blender or food processor combine, raisins, prunes and currants with rum and wine.
- Blend or process to a smooth paste
- When all of the fruits have been blended, transfer to an air tight container
- Let sit for at least 7 days before using