Thursday, January 15, 2009

Black Cake

This has been tested and verified as the real deal by folks who know. Greer and her family are from Jamaica- see her happy face below. For those of us unfamiliar with the Jamaican Black Cake, it's like fruitcake.

Hold on; don't go running from the room. It's good fruitcake.

Yes, there is such a thing.

My Dad found this recipe last December, 2007 that is, in the New York Times. I don't know what possessed him to be interested in it, or to forward it to me. Maybe it struck him as similar to mincemeat with all the booze and fruit? He's a Big Project cook (which reminds me of the latest revamp of Fine Cooking mag. There is a new section in each issue dedicated to weekend projects- the first is croissants, we're definitely making those!) The major project of mincemeat is a recipe for another time involving a whole cow's tongue, suet, and pounds of dried fruit, fresh fruit and bottles of booze... and canning. Talk about a project.

We made the black cake together last year and liked it. We are fruitcake fans, but really this isn't that gross green maraschino cherry thing, promise! In fact, we liked it so well that this year we both separately planned to make it. Dad arrived here for Christmas with a sample of his and I had the fruit soaking for mine. We had plenty of cake, that's for sure!!

Below is the Christmas Eve dessert scene at Greer and Stefan's house following the amazing feast of cioppino and the rest. As I think about it, I'd like to get them to make some more cioppino and invite me over- I hope my telepathic desires will be received...
You can see the whole Black Cake in the foreground- AND the plum cookies with the shaved pecorino cheese. Delicious!

Don't be afraid that the ingredients are going to cost a fortune and that you'll have 4 cakes- dive in and make this!

BLACK CAKE from NY Times December 2007

1 lb. prunes
1 lb. raisins
1/2 lb. golden raisins
1 lb. currents
1 1/2 lbs. dried cherries (or 1 lb. dry cherries, 1/2 lb. glace cherries) (I used all dry cherry)
1/4 lb. mixed candied citrus (I used citron)
2 c dark rum, plus more for brushing cake
1 1/2 cherry brandy
1/4 lb. blanched almonds
1 c white or light brown sugar for burning (or 1/4 c molasses which is what I used)
1 lb. butter
1 lb. brown sugar (Dad used dark and I used light-dark is probably better)
10 eggs
zest of 2 limes
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t angostura bitters
4 c A.P. flour
4 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon

1. Combine prunes, raisins, currants, cherries, candied peel, rum and brandy. Sit for at least 2 days.

2. Grind fruit and almonds to a rough paste, leaving some chunks of fruit intact. Add more brandy or some wine if needed. Can work in batches in the f.p. or blender.

3. If burning sugar, melt 1 c sugar until it is almost black. It will smoke. Add 1/4 c boiling water, turn off heat. It will splatter.

4. Cream butter and brown sugar to smooth and fluffy. Mix in eggs 1 x 1. Add zest, vanilla and bitters.

5. Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon and fold into butter mixture. Stir in fruit paste and black sugar or molasses. If the batter is light, add more molasses or sugar- should be medium-dark brown.

6. Divide between 4 8" (or 3 9") buttered and papered pans. (Recipe calls for 2 layers of paper, but I'm skeptical). Bake at 250 degrees- yes TWO hundred fifty degrees- for 1 hour. Reduce oven temp to 225 and bake for 2-3 more hours. Will test clean.

7. While cakes are hot, brush with rum. Brush with more rum when cakes are cool. Turn out and serve. Wrap, and store in a cool, dry place for up to one month.

Happy Baking!


Robb said...

This was one rocking cake! I was hoping you were going to post about this.

I was going to talk to you about Fine Cooking. I wanted to make the croissants too!

Janet said...