Caribbean Christmas Cake

, from Issue #51. September, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Caribbean Christmas Cake

Fragrant with spices and full of delicious fruits and almonds, you can present this cake one of three ways: with the easy glazed fruits; with marzipan and royal icing; or simply leave it plain. Whichever way you choose, it makes a beautiful gift.


150 grams butter, softened
1¼ cups caster sugar
zest of 2 each lemons and oranges
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used Equagold Vanilla & Star Anise Extract for extra flavour)
2 tablespoons rum or other favourite spirit
1¼ cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 tablespoon each ground ginger and cinnamon
½ teaspoon each ground nutmeg and cloves
300 grams whole skin on roasted almonds, roughly chopped
200 grams dried apricots, roughly chopped
100 grams dried figs, roughly chopped
100 grams crystallized ginger, roughly chopped
100 grams golden sultanas

20 cm x 8-9 cm deep square cake tin

Glazed Fruit Topping
70 grams slivered almonds, roasted
70 grams blanched whole almonds, roasted
1 cup dried apricots, thickly sliced
¼ cup dried cranberries
4 dried figs, sliced
50 grams candied citron, optional
¼ cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon rum or water


Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Grease the cake tin and line fully with baking paper. Wrap the outside of the tin in a double thickness of brown paper or newspaper and secure with string.

Beat the butter, sugar and zest together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each, then beat in the vanilla and rum.

Combine all the dry ingredients with the almonds and dried fruits.

Using a large metal spoon, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until well combined.

Spoon the batter into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for about 1½ hours, covering the top of the cake loosely with foil after 30 minutes.

To test the cake, insert a skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Don’t over-bake the cake or it will be dry. Cool the cake completely in the tin. If time permits, douse the cake with 2 tablespoon of rum every week for 3-4 weeks. Keep the cake in an airtight container in a cool dark place. Top with the glazed fruit if desired. Makes 1 cake

Glazed Fruit Topping: Place all the nuts and fruit (except the citron) in a large bowl.

Put the jam and water or rum in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.

Pour over the nuts and fruit and mix until everything is well coated in the glaze.

Spoon the mixture over the top of the cake, leaving it in rough peaks rather than pressing it flat. Slice the citron thinly and arrange over the top.

Pantry note: Candied citron is available at good food stores. Whole skin on roasted almonds are available from the loose bins at supermarkets.