This is the year that you will make your own delicious, moist Guyanese Black Cake. You can and will do it with my help and this recipe. Before you attempt this recipe, read it all the way through. Read all the tips and notes, then get ready to rock out in the kitchen. I am so excited for you! Let’s do this.
The Soaked Fruits
First things first. You cannot make amazing black cake without amazing Soaked Fruits––Macerated Fruits in Wine and Rum. Luckily my recipe for soaked fruits is pretty straight forward and with my quick tip you could have fruits soaked and bake your Black cake in about a week. Just don’t tell anyone you only soaked your fruits for a couple of days, because Caribbean people are serious about this fruits soaking business. Click on the link or the picture above for the recipe.
Baking takes practice and patience and more practice
It took years for me to get this black cake recipe from my aunt and several tries for me to get the cake to come out right. The thing about baking is, the more you do it the better you become at it. The way my aunt gave me this black cake recipe is the way Guyanese ppl give you most recipes, just ingredients. Luckily she did give me the measurements but no tips on how to pull the cake together. And since I couldn’t go to her house and say whip me up a cake (she lived in Guyana at the time and I’m in Denver, Colorado), it was trial and error until I got it just right. I’ve made this black cake quite a few times now and it is perfect every time. Every single time. No joke.
Starting with butter and eggs
For this very delicate black cake, you will need all of your ingredients to be at room temperature. Room temperature butter creams up quicker and fluffier than cold butter. Do you remember growing up and creaming golden cream margarine with sugar in a big basin with a wooden spoon? That margarine was always soft and smooth to begin with. That’s what we are going for here. I usually leave my butter out of the fridge over night, along with my eggs and I am ready to go in the morning. But if you ever forget to do this step, just pop your butter in the microwave for a few (5-10) seconds at a time, until it softens up. Not melting, but soft. To warm up cold eggs, I put the eggs in a bowl of warm water (not boiling) until I am ready to use them.
I soften up the butter with the mixer before adding the sugar. You don’t need a stand mixer to make this cake, you can use a hand mixer or cream the butter by hand. Some where in Guyana there is a grandma baking black cake and a kid creaming the butter and sugar in a big basin, by hand, taking little tastes as he goes. I know, kids in Guyana are not creaming butter by hand anymore, but I couldn’t help the slight diversion down memory lane.
The fluffier the butter, the better
Cream your butter and sugar until most of the sugar crystals melt away and it is light and fluffy. I cream my butter and sugar on a low setting and just let it keep creaming while I do other things around the house or kitchen. It takes a good 10 to 15 minutes to get it just right.
Adding the eggs one at at time is no easy task. Waiting to add those 9 eggs one at a time while waiting for it to mix in before adding another seems like eternity but it is so worth it. I like to crack my eggs in a bowl or my measuring cup before adding to the cake. I keep the mixer on low and add the eggs faithfully one at a time. This prevents the creamed butter and sugar mixture from separating. You know how some of the food videos show bakers dumping all the ingredients into a bowl and then mixing. This ain’t that kinda cake! You want to take your time with this one.
Adding the Fruits
Next, I add my fruits one cup at a time and I do this by hand because I don’t want to over mix my black cake and I don’t want to encounter any chunks of fruits when I am eating. I love it when my black cake has a smooth pudding like texture and I do everything I can to keep the batter moist and dense. I often wonder about the origins of our food and can’t help but notice the similarities in black cake and English Christmas pudding
To burn your own sugar or not to burn your own sugar?
About the burnt sugar… I no longer make my own burnt sugar. It is such a hard task that I’ve moved away from it. I buy burnt sugar (shown in the picture above) from amazon. Sometimes I get the Jamaican version from the Caribbean market in my neighborhood, but I honestly like the taste of this one better. If you want to make your own burnt sugar feel free to, but I highly recommend buying.
Once I’ve added enough of the burnt sugar, I add orange zest and some red wine and mix that all in. I set that aside and start to prep my dry ingredients.
Prepping the dry ingredients
I sift all of my dry ingredients together and then use a whisk to combine. Confession when my aunt gave me this recipe she said black cake doesn’t have baking powder. I can’t bring myself to make this cake without baking powder so I add 1 teaspoon for good faith. You can leave it out if you like.
We are almost to the finish line. The final step is to add the flour. I do this a cup at a time to ensure a really smooth clump free batter. I mix the flour into the wet ingredients using a figure 8 motion until all of the flour is completely mixed into the batter.
Prepping the baking pans
Prepping the pan for baking is equally important because the black cake is so moist and dense that it can be stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan break apart when you are trying to remove it from the pan. I bake my black cake in a spring form pan. It makes it really easy to get the black cake out of the pan. I line the bottom of pan with parchment paper. There are two methods for doing this. One is to trace the bottom of the pan onto the parchment paper and the other is to fold the paper into to quarters or even eights and then mark it and cut it.
Once you cut your parchment paper liner you should grease the pan or grease and flour the pan. I prefer to just use cooking spray and the parchment paper because I don’t like the taste of the flour and grease on the black cake. Some people like to just use butter and then parchment paper and some people like to line the sides of the tin with parchment paper as well. There is no hard rule here, do what works for you.
Ready for baking
This recipe makes three 8 inch round pans or two 9 inch pans. So I usually add the black cake batter to the greased and lined baking pans, one cup at a time, to ensure that it is evenly distributed among the baking pan. It is also very easy to half this recipe if you just wanted to bake 1 cake. If you were trying to bake just one cake, I would go with 5 eggs, versus 4.
Once you’ve divided your black cake batter evenly among your baking pans, go ahead and smooth the top. Because this cake it dense it will not rise much or settle enough to even out the top so make sure you have a nice smooth and even top before you put it in the oven.
The next step is my trick to help the cake bake evenly, I do this with my cheesecakes too. My final step before baking the black cake is to wrap the baking pans with aluminum foil. Black cake bakes low and slow. I bake my black cake at 300°F for 75 to 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
The most important–the rum!
Immediately after removing the black cake from the oven I brush the cake with rum then cover with a kitchen towel and let it cool. As the cake cools, it will shrink and pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely before removing from the pan. Then store in a covered container. The black cake will darken as it cool and get that rich black color that we know and love.
This black cake is so beautiful. It brings back a rush of memories about Christmas time while growing up in Guyana. I was definitely one of those children helping to cream butter until my arms fell off!
The Black Cake Recipe:
- 1 lb of butter
- 1 lb of granulated sugar
- 12 ounces of flour
- 4 lbs soaked and blended fruits
- 9 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of ground clove
- 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon of orange zest
- 4 to 6 tablespoons of burnt sugar
- ½ cup of red wine (e.g. Port)
- 3 tablespoon of dark rum
- Cooking spray
- Parchment Paper
- Aluminum Foil
- Cream butter and sifted sugar until most of the sugar crystals dissolve
- Add eggs to creamed butter and sugar one at a time until all of the eggs are fully incorporated into the mixture
- After the eggs have been added, add fruits to butter, sugar and eggs mixture (one cup at a time) and mix together until all of the fruits have been completely mixed into the batter
- Next add the wine and orange zest to batter
- Then add burnt sugar, one tablespoon at a time until your batter is the desired color
- Sift together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg
- Add flour to the batter one cup at a time and incorporating the flour into the batter using a figure 8 motion
- Preheat oven to 300°F
- Grease baking pans with cooking spray, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper
- Divide batter equally among the baking pans
- Wrap the bottom of the baking pan with aluminum foil
- Place cake on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 75 to 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the black cake comes out smooth
- Once cake is fully cooked, remove from the oven and brush each cake with 1 to 1½ tablespoons of rum, while cake is still hot. Feel free to add more rum if you like, but not too much or the cake will be soggy
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let cool
- Allow cake to cool completely, then remove from baking pans
- Store cake in a covered container. Depending on how long you keep the cake for, you may add more rum once or twice a week so that it doesn't try out
It is very easy to half this recipe to make 1 cake. If you do use 5 eggs instead of 4.
Check your cake at the 75 minute mark and if it is completely cooked remove it from the oven.
If you choose to make your own burnt sugar, ¼ lb burnt sugar will work for this recipe. After getting the sugar to that black caramel stage, add ½ cup of port wine and stir quickly until a thin liquid forms. Let cool completely before adding to the cake.
Some people prefer to cook this cake at 275 °F. They prefer the better safe than sorry method. If this is you, this is perfectly fine, because this cake can become really dry if it is over cooked and we are aiming for the moist pudding like texture, versus a traditional cake texture