Jamaican Christmas Pudding / Cake

As we get closer to the holidays, I’m reminded of a few traditions that run in my family.  Growing up, my mom always made a Jamaican Christmas Pudding Cake for Christmas Day.  Funny thing is that I never liked it but used to watch family members get very upset when the pieces that they held for themselves were consumed by someone else.

As I got older, I watched my mom make it one year.  A few days before Christmas, mom would clean a large glass jar with hot soapy water and dry it.  She would grind up dried fruit (which I thought was a waste of the good red candied cherries that I would eat droves of).   Then she would add in one bottle of over-proofed White Rum which we could only get in Jamaica.  The brand is J. Wray and Nephew.  The reason why this is important to note is because:

  • Back then as a kid in the 70’s, you could only get this brand by going to Jamaica and bringing it back, and
  • The Jamaican version is over-proofed rum at 180 Proof.

Yes you can get the same brand now in the US and Canada but its 130 Proof.   Let me explain 180 Proof to you.  The first time my parents let me drink at home, I made a rum and coke.  I started with ice, added approximately 8 oz. of rum into a large glass and then topped it with Coca Cola.  In 20 seconds, I watched the cola kind of clump up in the top of the glass.  I just figured the cola was old and proceeded to drink it anyways.  I don’t remember anything after that.

Back to the cake, mom mixed the fruit, the rum and added one bottle of ruby port to the fruit.  She covered the jar with plastic wrap and then a tight lid and placed it in the cupboard under the sink.  She then pulled out another jar with fruit in it that had been soaking from the previous year.  She used this to make the pudding. When I discovered this, that’s when I started to eat and enjoy the cake as well.

I’ve had numerous requests for the recipe so I’ve listed it below.  Here are a few points to note:

  1. It makes 4 cakes. For the work of soaking the fruit, it’s easier to make this batch, make the cakes and vacuum seal them for freezing for enjoyment throughout the year.  You can easily cut the recipe in half.
  2. The recipes calls for grinding the dried fruit for soaking. You can soak the fruit and grind it.  If you do not have a food grinder, a good blender or food processer will work.
  3. The cakes are more like a pudding so they are not going to rise like a traditional cake. Don’t worry about it, it’s still amazing.
  4. The cakes will not freeze. I recently pulled a vacuum sealed cake from my freezer to eat.  It was ice cold but not frozen completely hard.  It won’t freeze solid.  You have made an edible Sterno and you probably could light it….but that is a waste of freaking good cake.
  5. Do not drive after eating this….It’s not worth the ticket.
  6. Do not try to ice it. Icing will not stick to it and dusting with powdered sugar is a waste of time as well….ask me how I know.
  7. Parchment is needed for the bottom of the pans. I use non-stick pans and with the parchment, I have some issues getting the cake out.  Removing it when it’s a bit warm helps.
  8. Do not use Spiced Rum. The cake has enough spice and it will change the flavor and not in a good way….again, ask me how I know.
  9. I try to marinate my fruit as early as possible. If you can’t let it soak for a long period, It’s ok.  At least give it 24-36 hours to soak before making the cake.
  10. It can be made in other pan types. I have used small Bundt pans for individual cakes.  Just make sure to grease and flour them very well to help remove the cakes easier.
  11. DO NOT DRIVE AFTER EATING THIS!!! You have been warned!

Lastly, the question comes up about what to pair with this.  The best drink is an old vintage port or one of the best ones you can find.  It matches well with both the fruit and the port essence left over in the cake.

If you make this, I’m requesting pictures to be sent of your finished product.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas.


Jamaican Christmas Pudding/Cake

  • makes 4 cakes

Fruit ingredients

1 lb. dried currants

1 lb. gold raisins (dark can be substituted)

1 lb. pitted prunes

2 oz. (w) candied citron

1 lb. candied red cherries

1 lb. candied green cherries

12 oz. over-proofed white rum

12 oz. ruby port

  1. Grind all dried fruits through a meat grinder fitted with a small die (1/4”) into a large bowl. Add the bottle of rum and port and mix thoroughly. 
  2. Store fruit in an opaque, covered container and let soak until needed. The longer it soaks, the more the flavors blend.

Cake Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. ground cloves

2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp ground allspice

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. salt

2 cups brown sugar

1 lb. unsalted butter

10 eggs

Marinated fruit from recipe above

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line 4 – 9 inch cake pans with parchment on bottom (do not skip this step).  Grease the sides of the pans and parchment and coat with flour.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients together and mix until evenly combined in a large bowl.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in stand mixer on medium high until light in color (3-4 minutes).
  4. While mixer is running, slowly add each egg and let combine.
  5. Add the marinated fruit mixture into the batter and combine.
  6. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and combine. Divide evenly into the prepared pans.
  7. Take one extra pan and fill with water to help create steam.
  8. Place all pans in the oven and bake until the center is firm to touch. Depending on the size of the pan that you use will vary the time.  For 9 inch pans, it takes approximate 50 minutes.
  9. Remove pans from the oven and let cool until barely warm. Gently remove the cakes from the pans at this point.  Letting the cakes cool completely may cause the cakes to stick in the pans.


Soaking liquid

½ bottle (12 oz.) over-proofed rum

½ bottle (12 oz.) ruby port

  1. Combine both alcohols.
  2. When the cakes are completely cooled, gently prick the cake tops all over with a toothpick.
  3. For each cake, pour 6oz. of the soaking liquid over each cake. This will take a few minutes but the cake will soak it up.
  4. Wrap each cake tightly in plastic wrap until ready to use. These can be stored in the fridge or vacuum sealed and frozen for later use.
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