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+ servings
cake with decorations

Jamaican Fruit Cake (Vegan, Gluten free)

A delicious, super moist fruit cake also known as black cake is the quintessential Caribbean holiday cake. My take on this recipe is vegan friendly, gluten free and contains no alcohol making it perfect for children and drivers to consume throughout the holiday season or weddings.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Caribbean
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Charla


Fruit Mix

  • cups Dried mixed fruit (Cherries, mixed fruit, raisins prunes) (592g)
  • 1 cup Red grape juice (236ml)

Cake Batter

  • 2 cups Gluten free flour (272g)
  • ½ cup Dairy free butter (106g) must be room temperature!!
  • 1 cup Cane sugar (200g)
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon Mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoon Almond essence
  • 2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon Baking powder
  • Browning/molasses see the notes
  • ¼ teaspoon Pink salt
  • 1 cup applesauce (244g)
  • ½ cup chopped dried fruit (20g) optional

Soaking liquid

  • ½ cup warm water (118ml)
  • ½ cup Red grape juice (118ml)
  • 1-2 tablespoon rum flavouring/essence optional


  • Preheat the oven 150c/302f/gas mark 2 (this isn't a mistake!!)
  • Grease an 8 inch spring form pan
  • Line the pan by using a pencil/pen to form a circle around the removable base and line the sides. Then set aside.

For the mix fruit

  • Add all of the fruit to a medium sized saucepan along with the red grape juice and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes (until most of the liquid as absorbed) then leave to cool down.
  • Add the fruit to your food processor/blender and pulse until your desired texture is achieved. I like a pudding style of cake so I completely puree my fruit. Then set aside.

For the cake batter

  • Place the gluten free flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, mixed spice, baking powder and pink salt into a medium bowl and combine.
  • In another medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electronic whisk/mixer until fluffy.
  • Add the applesauce, pureed fruit ,browning sauce, almond essence, vanilla and whisk to form a smooth paste.
  • Add the bowl of flour to the wet ingredients - adding the flour a little at a time while whisking until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in your chopped dried mixed fruit if you are adding any.
  • Pour the cake batter into the cake pan.
  • Place some water in a large oven proof bowl to create a water bath and place this on the bottom oven shelf underneath the pan (this will help with heat distribution)
  • Bake the cake on the middle shelf for around 1hr and 30 minutes if the cake is browning too much half way through baking place some foil over the top of the cake.
  • Once done check the readiness by inserting a skewer or even knife. It should come out clean when done. If not return to the oven to bake for 10-15 intervals (foil covered) and repeat.

For the soaking liquid

  • Combine the grape juice, rum flavouring and water together in a spray bottle and spray the top of the cake.
  • Allow the cake to completely cool (preferably overnight) before slicing (you can spray more liquid once the cake is cool).


  • I used organic cane sugar for this recipe which is sweeter than coconut sugar, but use whatever sweetener works best for you.
  • 1hr and 30 minutes is a guideline for baking, sometimes black cake can take 2 hours or more to bake.
  • It's normal for the cake to have a few small cracks they tend close as the cake cools down.
  • Have the ingredients laid out and prepared the night before.
  • Once the cake is baked and cool, store in an air tight container.
  • The cake should last for several days although we eat ours within days of baking it.
  • Use a mixture of fruits i.e  prunes, raisins,, currants etc....for a balanced flavour.
  • When processing the fruit, you will want to pulse to YOUR preferred texture.
  • I used red grape juice as my alcohol alternative but you can use non alcoholic wine.
  • I used Bob Red Mills baking 1 to 1 flour, I haven't tried other gluten free flour blends so results may vary if you use a different brand.
  • Don't keep opening the oven door, this will fluctuate the temperature. 
  • For best results, after dowsing the cake with liquid allow to cool completely then wrap in saran/cling film to preserve the moisture.

Darkening the cake

  • For a jet black cake - 4 tablespoon of homemade sauce with 4 tablespoon store brought browning 
  • Use 5-6 tablespoon of store brought browning for a jet black cake or 3 tablespoon or less for lighter cake
  • For a dark brown cake use - 6-8tbsp of my homemade browning by itself or ⅓ cup of molasses