For a number of years, I copied out interesting recipes by hand in a series of small books with lined pages and casebound covers. Many of them came from cooking magazines, such as Gourmet, but many came from the pages of various newspapers, to include the Stars and Stripes – from which I dimly recall reading one for a heavy, dark Caribbean Christmas fruitcake. It is in my mind that the woman who had originated it had a nice local business making and selling these fruitcakes – perhaps she had a cookbook published, and the S&S had merely published an extract from it. Anyway, I copied the recipe from a clipping, into the oldest of my hand-written books, which dates from my first hitch in the Air Force.

Caribbean Dark Fruitcake

Combine and put through a meat grinder, using a medium blade:

1 pound dark raisins

1 pound currents

1 pound pitted prunes

1 pound glace cherries

Moisten the ground fruits as you go with a dollop of rum from a 1 quart bottle of rum, and when completely ground, mix with the remainder of the bottle. Cover tightly, or place in a sealed glass jar, and steep in a dark place for at least two weeks or up to a year.

Cream together

1 pound butter

1 pound brown sugar

1 pound eggs (about a dozen)

Add and mix gently with:

The ground and rum-steeped fruit

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1 lb sifted flour

3 oz burnt sugar (sugar cooked to dark and mixed with water to dissolve)

Grease and flour two 10-inch springform pans. Fill pans and bake at least 2 hours at 350°, until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from pan, let cool, and pour ¼ of a bottle of tawney port on each cake. Let absorb, pour on remainder of port on each cake. Wrap in plastic wrap (not tinfoil!) and age at room temperature for at least a week or two.

I made these cakes for several years running – it made a heavy, dense brown cake, which several of my friends at the time loved because it wasn’t the usual fruitcake of indigestible lumps of sugar-glazed fruit. One of my friends stored hers in the deep freezer, but it was too alcohol-sodden to freeze entirely and remained soft. I meant to submit this recipe to this cookbook, but the time ran away from me before I could.

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