Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

You'll need

110 gm (½ cup) brown sugar 400 gm unsalted butter, slightly softened 400 gm dark brown sugar 100 gm black treacle 5 eggs, at room temperature 2 tsp vanilla extract 275 gm plain flour, sieved ½ tsp finely grated nutmeg ½ tsp ground cinnamon ½ tsp ground allspice ½ tsp ground ginger ¼ tsp ground cloves Finely grated rind of 1 orange Finely grated rind of 1 lemon 250 ml dark rum 250 ml falernum (see note)   Macerated fruit 350 gm currants 300 gm (2 cups) raisins 300 gm (1¾ cups) pitted prunes, coarsely chopped 225 gm candied cherries, coarsely chopped 75 gm mixed peel 400 ml dark rum 200 ml ruby Port


  • 01
  • For macerated fruit, mix fruit in a bowl, then transfer to a jar, pour in rum and Port, seal and set aside in a dark cool place, turning occasionally, for at least a week and up to a month. Blend fruit mixture in a food processor to a chunky paste when ready to use.
  • 02
  • To make burnt caramel, scatter brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally so it melts evenly (3-5 minutes), then stir constantly to prevent too much burning until thick and caramelised (30 seconds to 1 minute). Remove from heat and add 125ml hot water (be careful, hot caramel will spit). Return to heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved (1-2 minutes). Set aside to cool.
  • 03
  • Preheat oven to 140C. Butter a 26cm-diameter round cake tin and triple-line it with baking paper, extending sides 4cm above tin. Beat butter and dark brown sugar in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment fitted until light and fluffy (6-8 minutes). Add treacle, whisk to combine, then whisk in caramel. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is emulsified into the butter between additions. Add vanilla extract, then fold in flour, spices, rinds and 1 tsp salt, followed by fruit paste, then spoon batter evenly into prepared tin. Smooth top and bake in centre of oven until a cake tester or thin skewer inserted withdraws clean (4-4½ hours; the cake may still wobble when fully cooked). Remove cake fromoven, cool briefly, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely (2½-3 hours). Place in an airtight container and brush cake generously with equal parts rum and falernum; repeat brushing daily for at least a week. Cake will keep in an airtight container indefinitely.

At A Glance

  • Serves 16 - 20 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 16 - 20 people

Additional Notes

Falernum is a sweet, spiced almond and lime syrup; it’s available from liquor shops, though you may need to order it ahead.

Drink Suggestion

A vintage Port such as 2007 Cockburn’s Quinta Dos Canais.

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Great Cake

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