This fun Jamaican rum cake combines the most unique flavors and takes holiday fruitcake to a tropically festive new level! There's just so much to love about this tasty cake that features rum, wine-soaked mixed peel, and dried fruits spread beautifully throughout the whole cake! The icing is optional, but topping the cake with toasted coconut rounded out the entire Caribbean appeal for me!
🤔 What Is a Jamaican Rum Cake?
A Jamaican Rum Cake is a holiday cake that is called a fruit cake, black cake, or Christmas cake in Jamaica. There are, of course, other rum cakes that are Caribbean or Jamaican style (or inspired) such as this recipe here.
A darker version of this cake, which would have a higher browning content, is called black cake. I would also add more of the port wine to the cake batter.
My Jamaican-inspired version uses both rum and port wine for soaking the fruit, however, I only added Malibu coconut rum to the cake.
These cakes are very similar to the British Christmas Cake! Jamaica was a crown colony of England, and they adapted the traditional Christmas cake to make this fabulous tropical variation!
❤️ Why This Recipe Works!
It's festive! Since this holiday cake is usually made for Christmas, it's made featuring a similar fruit combination as the classic holiday fruitcake...but it's a more fun version!
Caribbean flavors in winter! The rum and my addition of coconut to the frosting bring the tropical flavors home in the middle of our wintry cold weather!
It's actually really easy to make!
Ingredients For Soaking The Fruit
- Mixed Peel - I used the Old English Fruit Cake Mix from Paradise Candied Fruit - plus dried fruits like sultanas, cherries, raisins, or prunes.
- Dark Rum - Such as Wray and Nephew, Appleton Estate, Myer's Dark Rum, Bacardi, Plantation, or Captain Morgan. Use more as needed to soak the fruit.
- Port Wine (or a dark sweet wine) - I love Port wine and the rich flavor it adds, don't be shy with this when soaking your fruit blend!
Jamaican Rum Cake
- Butter - Lots of it! Set your butter out with plenty of time to soften for easy creaming with the sugar.
- Sugar - Just the right amount to make this tasty fruitcake amazing!
- Eggs - Use large eggs that have been brought to room temperature for best results and a cake that bakes more evenly.
- Baking Powder - Lightens up this flavor-packed Jamaican rum cake for a wonderful consistency!
- Mixed Spice - An amazing blend of warm spices used in British baking that is the perfect addition to this cake.
- Cinnamon & Orange Peel - A hint more flavor that pairs perfectly with the mixed spice.
- All-Purpose Flour - A baker's staple and the bulk of the cake.
- Molasses & Browning (or burnt brown sugar) - Rich and flavorful additions to make the cake complete!
- Lime (zest and juice) - Use a whole lime, zest, then juice it for the cake batter.
- Rum (dark rum or coconut rum) - More rum! Go with your favorite flavor for mixing into the batter.
- Vanilla Extract & Orange Extract - The combination of both extracts adds just a hint of more citrus flavor and highlights all of the wonderful ingredients!
Despite the ingredient list (don't let that keep you from making this amazing cake!) this homemade fruitcake is an easy cake to make from scratch. A little planning for soaking your fruit makes a huge difference in the resulting cake, even though it can be made last-minute in a pinch.
Soak the Mixed Fruit
- Select your rum and wine. Start with soaking your mixed fruit in rum and port wine, or a sweet wine. I like a dark rum for this stage, and the better the rum, the better the cake!
- Select your fruit blend. In addition the Old English fruit cake mix that I'm using for my cake, I also added sultanas (golden raisins), dried cherries, and raisins to make a total of two pounds of fruit.
- Cover and soak. Place the 2 pounds of fruit in a small to medium-size bowl and cover with 1 cup each of dark rum or overproof rum and port wine or sweet wine. Use more rum and wine to cover the fruit completely, if needed.
Rum Notes: Try to get your hands on some authentic Caribbean rum like Wray and Nephew. The brand offers exceptional dark rum and the world's top selling white overproof rum (which is a top notch choice with hints of fruit, spice, and molasses). I've never used the overproof rum for my cakes, but it is by far my favorite rum!
How Long Should I Soak My Fruitcake Fruit?
Two days, two weeks, or two months are all within reason. I have even heard of people soaking their fruit for up to a year for baking fruitcake!
However long you have available to plan your cake in advance, keep the fruit in a cool area to best soak up the alcohol. As needed, top off the soaking fruit with more rum and wine as it evaporates over time.
The night before my baking, I added a ½ cup of orange juice and 1 cup of crushed pineapple to add to my tropical fruit flavors for the Jamaican rum cake. This is optional, but very tasty!!
Make the Rum Cake Batter
- Preheat and prepare your pan. Warm your oven to 325ºF (163ºC) and line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spray the pan and paper with non-stick baking spray.
- Cream the butter and sugar. Mix the softened butter and granulated sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs. Mix in 1-2 eggs (of the 5 large eggs total) at a time to the creamed butter and sugar. With the last egg, add a tablespoon of flour and mix in at the same time.
- Add baking powder and spices. Add 2 teaspoons baking powder, 3 teaspoons mixed spice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon orange peel then mix to combine.
- Add flour. Add 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour and mix until all of the flour is incorporated.
- Add molasses and browning. Add in 2 tablespoons of molasses and 1-3 tablespoons of browning to the batter then mix until fully combined.
- Add the soaked fruit and finish mixing. Add the drained, soaked fruit along with lime juice and zest of 1 lime, ¼ cup dark rum or coconut rum, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon orange extract. Mix until the fruit is evenly distributed through the batter and the batter is thick enough to hold a spoon upright.
Bake the Jamaican Christmas Cake
- Transfer and level. Pour the cake batter into your prepared springform pan, and smooth the top.
- Bake. Place in the center of the middle rack and bake at 325ºF (163ºC) for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until an inserted knife or cake tester comes out clean.
💭 Tips & Notes
I would soak my fruit for as long as possible.
- At a minimum, try to soak the fruit for 4-5 hours before baking your Jamaican rum cake. I've found that soaking my fruit for a month to two is perfect for my fruitcakes.
Add a pan of water to the oven while baking.
- Use an older pan (that you won't worry about if it warps) and fill it with boiling water. Place the pan on the rack below the baking Jamaican rum cake to keep the cake moist while it bakes.
You can store the baked Jamaican rum cake for up to two months if you 'feed' the cake with more rum like you would a Christmas cake. Soak the top of the cake with your rum and then seal it securely by wrapping with aluminum foil.
After serving your cake, wrap with plastic cling film and store in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated and store for up to a week.
Wrap the cake with two layers of parchment paper and then seal securely wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil to freeze your Jamaican rum cake for up to 3 months. Remove from the freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature before serving or adding the icing.
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Yes, most definitely! In addition to rum in the cake batter, the fruitcake blend is soaked in a combination of rum and port wine. The alcohol does not entirely cook off during baking, so there is a alcohol in the final product (your cake).
Wray and Nephew is my top choice for a great Jamaican rum brand. They offer one of the best overproof rums available. Other great brands to keep your cake truly Jamaican include Appleton Estate, Myer's Dark Rum, Bacardi, Plantation, or Captain Morgan.
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📖 Recipe Card
Jamaican Rum Cake (Easy Jamaican-Inspired Fruitcake)
- 2 lbs mixed peel (I used the Old English Fruit Cake Mix from Paradise Candied Fruit - plus dried fruits like sultanas, cherries, raisins, or prunes)
- 1 cup dark rum (such as Wray and Nephew, Appleton Estate, Myer's Dark Rum, Bacardi, Plantation, or Captain Morgan - more as needed, to soak the fruit)
- 1 cup port wine (or a dark sweet wine - more as needed, to soak the fruit)
- 1 ¼ cups butter (20 tablespoons or 2 ½ sticks butter)
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 teaspoon mixed spice (see recipe)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon orange peel
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1-3 tablespoon browning (or burnt brown sugar)
- 2 tablespoon molasses
- 1 lime (zest and juice)
- ¼ cup rum (dark rum or coconut rum)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract (or almond extract, or coconut extract)
- Soak your fruit in advance. Place mixed peel, sultanas (golden raisins), and dried cherries in a medium bowl or storage container and cover with rum (or a combination of rum and port wine). Set aside in a cool place to allow the fruit to soak up the alcohol.
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C) and prepare a 10-inch springform pan with a layer of parchment paper in the bottom. Spray the pan and parchment paper with non-stick baking spray.
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar 1-2 at a time. For the final egg, add a tablespoon of the flour with the egg to prevent the mixture from breaking or 'curdling'.
- Add the baking powder, mixed spice, cinnamon, and orange peel to the butter mixture and combine.
- Add the flour. Mix until the flour is incorporated to the wet ingredients and thick batter is formed.
- Add the molasses and browning (or burnt brown sugar) to the batter and combine.
- Add the drained soaked fruit (including the mixed peel, sultanas, dried cherries), lime zest and juice, rum, vanilla extract, and orange extract. Mix to combine. The fruit should be evenly distributed in the batter when ready to bake. *The batter should be thick enough that a spoon will stay upright. If it is not, add a bit more flour a tablespoon at a time to thicken the batter consistency.
- Transfer the rum cake batter to your prepared springform pan and smooth the top of the batter.
- Bake in the center of the middle oven rack at 325°F (163°C) for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until a knife or cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.
- Remove the baked Jamaican rum cake when done and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing the springform round. If desired, poke the cake with a toothpick and soak with more rum or port wine while still warm. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.
Optional Icing & Toasted Coconut
- In a small non-stick frying pan or skillet heat about a ½ cup of shredded coconut (sweetened) over medium heat. Keep the coconut moving once it starts browning. Immediately remove your pan from heat when the coconut is golden brown. Transfer toasted coconut into a small bowl to stop the toasting process.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 ½ cups confectioners sugar with 2 tablespoons of karo light corn syrup, 1 tablespoon of heavy cream, and a teaspoon of coconut extract (or vanilla extract). Mix until the icing is smooth and fairly thick. Adjust the thickness by adding more sugar to thicken, or more heavy cream to thin.
- Apply the icing to the center of the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the icing in a thin, even layer toward the cake edges. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!