A Holiday Hallmark in Belize: Black Fruit Cake

by Carolee Chanona

If you happen to be visiting Belize during the holiday season, you might be lucky enough to sample this Christmas treat. Often served with rum popo, a sort of Belizean eggnog, the Belizean black fruit cake is chock full of dried fruit, spices and nuts. It’s hue (thanks to stout and caramel coloring) is just as deep and rich after baking low and slow; the dense cake gets a punchy dash of Traveller’s Gold Rum or wine on top while still warm. It’s a guaranteed festive mouthful.


The dense black fruit cake gets a punchy dash of Traveller’s Gold Rum or wine on top while still warm.

Belize isn’t the exception to this traditional holiday recipe. Black Cake—with a similar version called Caribbean Rum Soaked Fruit Cake—is saved for special occasions in the Caribbean, like the Christmas season and even for weddings.

This tradition dates back to the middle of the 17th century when English settlers brought over a tradition of the ‘English pudding.’ Over time, that was radically modified by African slaves and their descendants who evolved it into this densely rich and moist rum cake, with a potent mix of finely ground raisins, cherries, and nuts which were soaked for months or stewed in overproof rum.

It smells like Christmas is in the air.


Belizean Black Fruit Cake Recipe

If you happen to be visiting Belize during the holiday season, you might be…
Belize Cuisine Belizean cake, black fruit cake, Christmas cake Belizean
Black Cake - Cooking with Flavors of Belize & Sean Kuylen
One of the most important items on the menu for a true Belizean Christmas. Chef Sean Kuylen tries his hand at baking, adding some flavor to this timeless recipe and almost burning off an eyebrow in the process! If you are looking for an authentic homegrown Belizean recipe (with a spin, of course) to try this Christmas - our Black Cake recipe is perfect.
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Serves: 10 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • 4 cups Traveller's Gold Rum
  • 7 cups brown sugar, firmly packed, divided
  • 2 pounds raisin
  • 1 pound prunes, quartered
  • 2 pounds candied mixed fruit
  • 1 pour candied red cherries
  • 1 cup pecans, diced
  • 1 pound butter, room temperature
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  • 2 cups Belikin Stout
  • 1 cup caramel coloring


Preheat oven to 275°F. Line 3 to 4 cake pans, 8" each, with parchment paper and grease paper with shortening (greasing and flouring also works). Stew fruits with rum and 2 cup brown sugar in medium pot until most of rum is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Cream butter and 5 cups sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Combine flour, baking powder, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon, then add to mixture, alternating with stout and coloring. Fold in fruit and pecans and toss until blended. Fill prepared baking pans ¾ full and bake for 3 hours.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, you can even add more rum and/or brandy on top. Or, serve it alongside a decadent Butter Hard Sauce.

Butter Hard Sauce Ingredients:
½ cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons brandy or rum

For the butter hard sauce, beat butter until fluffy and fold in powdered sugar. Add vanilla and brandy or rum, then combine. Serve with black fruit cake.


These cakes bake low and slow, and some Belizeans even use a bain-marie (heated water bath) to ensure even cooking. This is not a crumb cake. Although the cake may appear to be slightly overcooked, take it out at 3 hours (or less); its texture changes over the next 2-3 days, as the cake fully absorbs its sauce and redistributes moistness. This recipe can be found on page 122 of the Flavors of Belize cookbook.

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