Paul Carmichael's great cake recipe (2024)

Paul Carmichael's great cake- 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.

Dec 01, 2016 1:00pm

By Paul Carmichael

  • 45 mins preparation
  • 4 hrs 30 mins cooking
  • Serves 16 - 20
  • Paul Carmichael's great cake recipe (1)


"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 Momof*cku 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."


  • 110 gm brown sugar (½ cup)
  • 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 raisins (2 cups)
  • 300 gm pitted prunes, coarsely chopped (1¾ cups)
  • 225 gm candied cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 75 gm mixed peel
  • 400 ml dark rum
  • 200 ml ruby Port



  • 1

    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.

  • 2

    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.

  • 3

    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.


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 co*ckburn’s Quinta Dos Canais. Drink suggestion by Ambrose Chiang

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