I have already gushed about my love for Christmas Cake (here) and how it is a completely different animal than the much maligned fruitcakes of the season.
Laurie Colwin’s Black Cake was one of the first fruitcakes I made for Christmas shortly after meeting my husband who grew up with proper fruit based Christmas cakes in his native Ireland. The recipe was in an issue of Gourmet magazine where Ms. Colwin waxed poetic about the black cake she had eaten in Jamaica.
Dense, boozy and packed with fruit, it is one of the best Christmas cake/fruitcake recipes out there. I made it for Christmas last year and since the recipe yields two, this year’s cake has been hanging out in a cool place waiting for me. There are lots of steps and tons of ingredients, but the actual preparation is not difficult at all. Just be sure to have a monster big bowl to mix it all up in.
I decorated the top of the cake with some decorative ribbon wire which is fun and festive. For some other Christmas cake decorating ideas you can check out this post and this post.
Laurie Colwin’s Black Cake
1 lb raisins, minced
1 lb prunes, pitted and minced
1 lb dried currants, minced
1 lb glacé cherries, minced
6 oz glacé lemon peel, minced
6 oz glacé orange peel, minced
750ml Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine
750ml dark rum
2 lb dark brown sugar
4 1/4 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg,
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups butter, softened
1 Tbs vanilla
1 1/2 cups almond paste
Icing (recipe follows)
1. In a large bowl, mix all the fruits thoroughly with the wine and the rum. Let the fruit macerate, covered, at room temperature for at least two weeks.
2. In a heavy skillet combine one pound of the brown sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Gently boil the syrup, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until reduced to 1 3/4 cups. Let syrup cool. Set aside.
Note: For a really black colored cake use Burnt Sugar Essence instead of making the syrup in this step. That is what is called for in the original recipe.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg together into a bowl.
4. In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream together the remaining 1 pound brown sugar and the butter until it is fluffy and light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Beat in the vanilla, the flour mixture, and 1 1/3 cups of the burnt sugar syrup, reserving the remaining syrup for another use.
6. In another REALLY LARGE bowl, combine the flour mixture and the fruit mixture.
7. Divide the batter between two buttered and floured 10″ springform pans.
8. Bake the cakes in the middle of a preheated 350℉ oven for two hours, or until a tester inserted in the centers comes out with very few crumbs adhering to it. (The centers of these cakes will be quite moist.)
9. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a rack, remove the sides and bottoms of the pans, and wrap the cakes in foil or wax paper.
10. Let the cakes stand at room temperature for one week.
11. Roll out half the almond paste between sheets of plastic wrap to form a 10″ round and remove the top sheet of plastic wrap.
12. Fit the almond paste layer over one cake, trimming the edge if necessary, and remove the other sheet of plastic wrap. Roll out and fit the remaining almond paste onto the remaining cake in the same manner. (Note: If you are not planning to serve the second cake any time soon, wrap it in foil and place in a large resealable bag. Store in a cool place for up to a year, unwrapping and “feeding” it some brandy every few weeks. When ready to serve top with almond paste and the icing.)
Makes 2 (10 inch) cakes
2 lbs eonfectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 egg whites
2 Tbs lemon juice
Dragées, for decoration
1. Using an electric mixer, beat 4 cups of the confectioners’ sugar with the egg whites and lemon juice until the mixture forms soft peaks.
2. Beat in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form.
3. Spread icing on the tops and sides of the cakes with a long metal spatula.
Recipes from Laurie Colwin in Gourmet magazine, November 1988
A rockin’ cake deserves a rocking tune.
‘Rolling Start’ is new from Sydney-based band The Missendens. I was hooked from the very first guitar/drum kick in and it just keeps getting better.
“Aren’t you sick and tired of being down in the dumps?”
Check out The Missendens on Facebook where you can keep tuned to learn where to buy the music due out on Christmas day.