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Spice Me Up Holiday Rum Cake

Every family in the Caribbean has their own black cake recipe and everyone swears theirs is the best. In all cases, though, a true island black cake requires dried fruit that macerates in rum, red wine or bourbon for weeks, even months, before it goes into the cake batter. Fret not, this rum cake is a lighter version you can — and should — make today — so it’ll be ripe and ready for Christmas. It’s like a naughty version of gingerbread, full of warming spices, including enough nutmeg to make things fun. My husband says the cake tastes like Christmas. Kept well-wrapped and refrigerated, the rum cake keeps several days and just gets spicier, stickier and boozier over time. Enjoy.


  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1-1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk or other nondairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice roughly 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-1/2 unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • grated rind of 1 orange
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup grape seed or other neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 2 tablespoons chopped crystalized ginger
  • 1/4 cup raisins

For rum syrup:

  • juice of 2 oranges 1/3 to 1/2 cup of juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice use the other half of your lemon here
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark rum or bourbon


  • Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9-inch bundt cake pan. Sprinkle in about a tablespoon of flour. Turn pan to coat. Tap out excess flour. Set aside
  • In a small bowl, combine flax seed, soy milk and lemon juice. Mixture will curdle. Stir in baking soda. Set aside for a few minutes, to allow combination to thicken.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sift together the flour and spices. Stir in sugar and brown sugar. Add grated orange and lemon zest. Stir well to combine.
  • Pour in the soy milk mixture and the oil. Using a large wooden spoon or mixer, stir or together just enough so ingredients come together in a thick batter
  • Taking care not to overmix, gently stir in the dates, crystalized ginger and raisins.
  • Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and your kitchen smells spicy and sweet.
  • Set on a rack to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the juice of 1 fresh orange, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring. Reduce heat to medium and continue stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens — about 5 minutes. Stir in rum or bourbon and continue stirring, until the syrup reduces slightly. Taste — the alcohol should be pronounced but not sharp.
  • Unmold cake onto a rimmed serving plate. Using a toothpick or thin skewer, prick holes all over the top of the cake. Spoon the rum syrup over the entire cake, which will soak it up gladly.