To add to my previous article “A Trinbago Christmas”, as stated we in Trinidad and Tobago love our bellies and have a sweet tooth and it is overly expressed in our cooking and the wide range and varieties of traditional homemade treats and drinks we savour during the holiday season such as our signature Trinidad black cake, Pastels, Punche de Creme, Ham with mustard pickle, Ginger beer and Sorrel – a refreshing drink made from the red petals of the Sorrel plant; even the vegetarians are not to be left out for there is the polenta and for the diabetics, they can always look forward to the diabetic fruit cake or sugarless carrot cake and a lot more treats and drinks, that everyone knows there will always be more room at the table for neighbors and friends to feast on whenever they drop by and even invite those less fortunate ones to sit and enjoy the season with you and your loved ones.
Trinidad Black Cake (Christmas Cake)
1 lb prunes, seeded and chopped
1 lb raisins
1 lb currants
1 lb sultanas
1/4 lb mixed peel
1/2 lb cherries, chopped in halves
1/4 lb chopped almonds
2 cups cherry brandy
2 cups rum
1 lb butter
2 1/2 cups sugar (brown sugar, preferably)
2 tsp grated lime peel
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup browning
1 cup mixture of rum, cherry brandy and Sherry
Even thou most times the fruits are always soaked a month or more in advance, but if you are a very busy person with limited time. Few days before baking the cake, you can combine prunes, raisins, currants, sultanas, mixed peel, cherries, almonds, cherry brandy and rum to soak.
On the day of baking the cake, line how much cake pans you want with double layers of wax paper, I usually use four. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat eggs one at a time; add lime peel and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon: fold into creamed mixture gradually. Add fruit and enough browning o give it the desired colour, stir well. Put in lined baking pans full and bake in preheated oven at 250°F for the first hour; reduce heat too 200°F – 225°F for reminding 1 1/2 hours or until tester comes out clean. Prick hot cake and soak with a mixture of rum, cherry brandy and Sherry. Cover and set aside.
2 lb sorrel
2 pieces of cinnamon stick
2 cups sugar or more
Wash sorrel and remove petals. Put cinnamon and cloves in a pot of water and bring to boil. Add sorrel petals, cover and boil for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and leave for a few hours or overnight. Strain and bottle; keep refrigerated. When ready to serve dilute in water to required strenght and sweetened to taste.