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BLACK CAKE RECIPE
Adapted from the Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
Time: 4 hours, plus 2 days marinading
1 pound prunes
1 pound dark raisins
1/2 pound golden raisins
1 pound currants
1 1/2 pounds dried cherries, or 1 pound dried cherries plus 1/2 pound glacé cherries
1/4 pound mixed candied citrus peel
2 cups dark rum; more for brushing cake
1 1/2 cups cherry brandy or Manischewitz Concord grape wine; more for grinding fruit
1/4 pound blanched almonds
1 cup white or light brown sugar for burning, or 1/4 cup dark molasses or cane syrup; more molasses for coloring batter
4 sticks (1 pound) butter; more for buttering pans
1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) light or dark brown sugar
Zest of 2 limes
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters
4 cups (1 pound) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon.
1. At least 2 days before baking, combine prunes, raisins, currants, cherries, candied peel, rum and brandy in a glass jar or sturdy plastic container. Cover tightly; shake or stir occasionally.
2. When ready to bake, put soaked fruit and almonds in a blender or food processor; work in batches that the machine can handle. Grind to a rough paste, leaving some chunks of fruit intact. Add a little brandy or wine if needed to loosen mixture in the machine.
3. If burning sugar, place a deep, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add 1 cup white or light brown sugar, and melt, stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir, letting sugar darken. (It will smoke.) When sugar is almost black, stir in 1/4 cup boiling water. (It will splatter.) Turn off heat.
4. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Butter three 9-inch or four 8-inch cake pans; line bottoms with a double layer of parchment or wax paper.
5. In a mixer, cream butter and 1 pound light or dark brown sugar until smooth and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time, then lime zest, vanilla and bitters. Transfer mixture to a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Fold dry ingredients into butter mixture. Stir in fruit paste and 1/4 cup burnt sugar or molasses. Batter should be a medium-dark brown; if too light, add a tablespoon or two of burnt sugar or molasses.
6. Divide among prepared pans; cakes will not rise much, so fill pans almost to top. Bake 1 hour, and reduce heat to 225 degrees; bake 2 to 3 hours longer, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove to a rack.
7. While cakes are hot, brush tops with rum and let soak in. Repeat while cakes cool; they will absorb about 4 tablespoons total. When cakes are completely cool, they can be turned out and served. To keep longer, wrap cakes tightly in wax or parchment paper, then in foil. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.
Yield: 3 or 4 cakes, about 4 dozen servings.
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