Grandma Irma’s Guyanese Black Cake Recipe

“A classic Guyanese holiday cake recipe that is rich in fruits and rum. It is so moist and delicious. After one bite you will certainly agree”

If you’re Guyanese you know that there is no Christmas without black cake. Black Cake is also referred to as Fruit Cake or Christmas cake in some parts of the Caribbean; but in Guyana the two are not the same as they do differ in terms of texture and composition. It’s a rich and moist cake that consists of any fruit combination of your choice such as raisins, prunes, cherries, and mixed peel. Traditionally, these fruits are pulverized then soaked in alcohol months before Christmas.  The dark rich color of black cake comes from the addition of caramelized sugar and its moist texture is maintained by the addition of wine or rum. Growing up, I don’t think I have ever had a Christmas without black cake. My grandma Irma makes the best black cake; it’s moist, flavorful and delicious. In my opinion, the process of making black cake is not difficult but not everyone knows how to make a really GREAT black cake. I can only hope to one day perfect her recipe. In Guyana, black cake is not only enjoyed during the Christmas holiday but also at weddings.

This is Grandma Irma’s recipe that I have tweaked; I used a bit more fruits for mine. So let’s get back to this whole thing about soaking your fruits for months! If you are unable to soak your fruits months before, Grandma has taught me an alternative method ‘stewing fruits’ in alcohol, which pretty much means cooking it on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes to infuse all the alcohol into the fruits. This method can be done a few days prior to baking. It’s 2020 and a lot of us have very busy schedules so easy alternatives are good. I do hope this recipe brings back so many happy memories and it fills your home with joy.

Note: I did this awesome black cake recipe in collaboration with my friend Taio over at Thyme & Chive. So head over to her YouTube

She also put her own little twist on Grandma’s recipe and she absolutely loved it.  

How do I like my Black Cake

Grandma Irma did not put currants in her black cake and I do the same; I love the way it tastes without it. Also I do not like a lot of sugar in my black cake. It’s just a personal preference. Taste your batter to determine if additional sugar is needed. I generally don’t like nuts in my black cake but you can also add nuts as well. You can put some rum into your cake batter if you want; I personally throw a lot of rum on top so I don’t.


Helpful Tips for making Black Cake

  1. Remove the chalazae (white string part) from the eggs. Grandma Irma specifically instructed me to do so as she referred to it as the ‘embryo’. This removes the rank smell from the eggs. Alternatively, you can use lemon zest.
  2. Crack your eggs into a separate bowl before adding to the creamed butter Add eggs bit by bit to avoid curdling. You can also add all the spices and extracts into the eggs then incorporate into butter
  3. No need for baking powder as you’re using 12 eggs. It does the job
  4. Grandma Irma covered her black cake for the first 1 hour of baking with foil for it to steam and cook
  5. Burnt sugar is sold in most Caribbean market
  6. Just a preference, I love to use mostly fresh spices in my black cake instead of the already grounded store bought ones
  7. Cover your black cake with a kitchen towel to cool after pouring the rum to retain the moisture


Storage and maintaining moisture

Store in a cake stand with a lid or in a tightly closed container and add a bit of rum every 3 days to retain moisture.

Prep Time:  30-45 minutes                 Cook Time: 2 hours 

Serving size: two 9 inch round pans



  • 1½ lb. Raisins
  • 1 lb. Prunes
  • 1 lb. Cherries
  • 1 lb. Mixed peel

Wine Suggestions for Soaking or Stewing Fruits:

  • 1/3 bottle Port Wine (Presidential Porto Tawny)
  • 1/3 bottle Manischewitz blackberry Wine 


  • 4 sticks of butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar

Other Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. Jamaican burnt sugar (Caramel Liquid)
  • 12 eggs (remove embryo)
  • 3 tsp rosewater
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks grinded
  • 2 nutmeg grated
  • ½ tsp almond essence
  • 1 tsp anise essence
  • 3 tsp mixed essence
  • 1 lb. all purpose flour (3 1/3 cups)
  • Rum (El Dorado)


  1. In a food processor or blender add ½ of the each fruit (raisins, prunes, cherries and mixed peel) then a bit of water. Pulse until a smooth paste is formed. Repeat with second ½ of fruits. Soak fruits in Port Wine and Sherry Wine for a few weeks before baking. Alternative method: “Stew” your blended fruits on medium heat with the port and sherry wine for 15 minutes (mixing periodically to ensure it doesn’t stick to pan) then allow to cool completely (let it cool for at least 5 hours)
  2. Crack eggs then add rose water, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed essence, aniseed essence. Mix together.
  3. Manually by hand or mixer, whip the butter and brown sugar until it is light and fluffy
  4. Add egg mixture gradually into creamed butter to avoid curdling while mixing on medium speed.
  5. Transfer mixture into a bowl then add flour. Mix well. Add fruits. Mix well. Add burnt sugar. Mix well.
  6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees for the first hour then reduce the heat to 275 degrees
  7. Grease and line your pans; then evenly distribute your cake batter into both pans
  8. Cover the cake with foil paper for the first hour of baking then remove. Bake for an additional 45 mins-1 hour. Using a toothpick, pierce the center of the cake; if it comes out clear then it’s done
  9. Pour rum on top of the cake immediately after removing from the oven
  10. Cover the cake with a dish towel and allow to cool before removing from the pan

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