Gluten Free Vegan Trini Fruit Cake
Updated: Sep 8
There are fruit cakes and there is Trini Fruit Cake, as in the boozy, pudding like, almost black looking cake popular in Trinidad and Tobago at weddings and at Christmas. It’s not an easy favourite, there is a bitter sweet taste from the molasses and caramelised sugar that gives it the characteristic dark, almost black colour. It is however a real treat because most only get to eat it once for the year like a seasonal fruit which makes it all the more desirable. And the process...traditionally the fruit is “soaked”, left to cure for weeks and months in alcohol. Plus after baking the cake is soaked with more alcohol and with time perhaps even more alcohol.
This is one of the easiest cakes you will ever make gluten free. Dense is okay and the large volume of fruit makes it virtually impossible to crumble. Start with the basic recipe and add your own touches, make it darker, lighter, add more alcohol, more fruit, less if you prefer. Trini fruit cake keeps, it can last for months perhaps years if wrapped tightly and stored, in the freezer or a cool cupboard. On that note, happy baking, just dive in don’t worry about it at all, it’s bound to be great!
1½ cup gluten free flour blend
½ tsp xanthan gum (omit if in your flour blend)
2¼ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt (omit if in your flour blend)
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp flax meal
¾ - 1 cup water
¼ cup + 2 tbsp sugar
¼ cup + 2 tbsp oil
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp almond extract
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 tbs browning (more for darker colour)**
2 tsp molasses
1 tbsp vinegar
1½ cup pureed mix fruit ***
¼ cup white rum (or to preference)
**browning refers to a syrupy dark caramelised sugar and water mixture
** the pureed mix can be any combination of dried fruit e.g. raisins, sultanas, currants, dates etc. The fruit is soaked in alcohol, usually rum and cherry brandy, until softened and then blended to form a thick puree. Fruits can be soaked anywhere from a few hours to a few days or months. For 1½ cups of pureed fruit as used in this recipe, you will need approximately 1½ - 2 cups total dried fruit, soaked and blended with ¾ cup of liquid (or enough liquid to cover the fruit)
Preheat oven to 275°F. Prepare an 8” baking tin, set aside.
Combine the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, set aside
To your mixing bowl add the flax meal, ½ cup of water and the sugar. Whip, beat or mix until slightly thickened. Turn off the mixer or stop beating and leave to rest for about 5 minutes
Once rested, resume mixing or beating, gradually adding the oil. Whip until the oil is fully incorporated and the mixture lightens in colour
Add the extracts, bitters, browning, molasses, vinegar and mix again. Now add the flour and mix until just blended. Turn off the mixer and fold in by hand the pureed fruit, the mixture will be thick but not stiff, somewhat like a muffin batter. If necessary add some water to achieve the right consistency. You could also use cherry brandy instead of water.
Spoon the batter into the baking tin. Bake at 275°F for 50 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the baking tin for about 15 mins. Prick holes with a toothpick all over the top of the cake. Pour the rum on the cake distributing as evenly as possible. Allow the cake to rest in the tin if possible for a few hours or overnight. Store in a tightly sealed container. The cake will keep for an indefinite amount of time in the freezer or a cool cupboard because of the alcohol. It can be soaked again to your preference