Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Black Cake, Sorrel and New Year's Wishes


For my Creole family, New Year's always involved gumbo, souse, black-eyed peas and turnip greens. I'd have nothing to do with any of these, save the greens because in New Year's lore, the peas represent the coins you'll recieve in the new year and the greens symbolize the dollars and who doesn't want more dollars? Once I discovered the Caribbean New Year's tradition of black cake, and sorrel, I added these delicacies to my New Year's meal. An evoulution of the English plum pudding, black cake is similar to fruit cake only more moist and with ground up fruit.  The fruit is soaked for months in rum, sometimes even a year and the mixed with spices, molasses and brown sugar. It's heavy and fragrant and I confess that I eat it all year round, not just on New Year's.


Sorrell is a spicy, vibrant red drink made from the hand-picked sepal of the sorrell or roselle plant, which is a species of hibiscus. I also drink it all year round. Traditionally, the leaves are mixed with ginger, cinnamon and other spices for a refreshing holiday drink. Any proper  holiday visit to a Caribbean house always involves a slice of black cake and a glass of sorrel or ginger beer. Tasting these treats  almost guarantees a happy and fulfilling new year, which is my wish for all of my readers, even if you don't get a chance to sample black cake and sorrel!

This post is part of Wanderlust and Lipstick's Wanderfood Wednesdays, go  over and check out the other treats from around  the world.

24 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Looks cexcellent. Happy New Year!

Akila said...

How cool. I just picked up some roselle at the farmers market near my house because it looked pretty and was cheap but I didn't know what to do with it. I will need to try this!

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, happy new year to you as well!

Akila, roselle petals are also supposed to be tasty. Soak the sepals and add sugar, ginger and cinnamon to make sorrel. Let me know how it turns out!

Tiffany said...

I've been eating black cake all week long.

Ekua said...

I've never enjoyed fruitcakey or plum pudding desserts. I actually grew up on such things because my parents grew up in Ghana and the English left that behind for them too. I actually kind of dreaded some Christmastime desserts, as outrageous as that sounds. But that sorrel drink looks delicious, I'd love to try that!

http://geoffreyphilp.blogspot.com/ said...

Happy New Year, Fly Girl!
*sipping sorrell*

One Love,
Geoffrey

Kirsten said...

Yum! I think I want to come over for dinner :)
Happy New Year!

Fly Girl said...

Tiffany, rub it in why don't you!

Ekua, I totally understand. Black cake doesn't have the same texture or taste as fruitcake so you might feel differently about it.

Geoffrey, save me some!

Kirsten, I'll try to save you some cake but I can't promise! It goes fast...

Lola said...

Black cake sounds right up my alley! As long as its moist (which it sounds like it is), I actually like fruitcakes.

Happy New Year!

Fly Girl said...

Lola, Black Cake is wonderfully moist and if you like fruitcake, you'll love it! Happy New Year to you!

Wendy said...

Happy New Year and may 2010 be full of fabulous travels.

Fly Girl said...

Wendy, thanks, more fab new year travel for you as well!

glamah16 said...

My intent was to make a black cake this year. Always love Sorrel. Happy New Year.

Mary and Sean said...

These looks wonderful. Any chance you could post a short recipe for each?

As for that cake, I'm a sucker for anything soaked in rum.

They definitely have roselle plants here, so I can also probably find the leaves to make the drink. Is it like Te de jamaica, a mexican drink made from hibiscus?

Also, thanks for the offer to send me some travel writing info. I'm still interested to learn more. Can you send me your email address?

Suzanne said...

That cake looks great!

Fly Girl said...

Glamah, I'm ipressed that you even had a plan to make blacke cake! Thanks for dropping by.

Mary, yes I'll send you a recipe for each. Flor de Jamaica is very similar but Sorrel is richer and spicier. My email is on the right in the "about me" section.
Suzanne, it's heaven. Thanks for visiting.

Blackgirl On Mars said...

I missed my black cake this year... :-(
lab

Vera Marie Badertscher said...

I am so happy to hear this discussion of Black Cake. Emily Dickinson made Black Cake, and the play Belle of Amherst starts with her reciting the recipe. I played Emily once, and ever since have made black cake each year for Christmas. I always wondered if perhaps the Dickinsons might have had a Jamaican cook, and that's where the recipe came from. I wrote about Emily and Black Cake in my blog, here: http://atravelerslibrary.com/2009/11/17/emilys-cake-poetry/ if you want to see Emily's version.

Fly Girl said...

Lesly Ann, I feel very sorry for you!

Vera, It's actually the other way around. Black cake is an English tradition adapted throughout the British Caribbean. The big difference is the rum used to soak the fruit, most English recipes called for brandy. THanks for Emily's recipe and for dropping by!

Execumama said...

just finished the last of my mom-in-law's black cake! Laaawd, it taste good! My hubby is now officially in the Black Cake Maker's club and I'm already saving up my calories for next year's run!!

Though I'm probably the only Jamaican in the world who doesn't like ginger, which is a main ingredient of sorrell, but my wonderful dad-in-law made me my own gingerless batch and as I said...Laaawd, it taste good!!

Happy new year!

Fly Girl said...

Mama, go ahead and torture me why don't you! I think you are the only Jamaican who doesn't like ginger and I'll galdly take your place.

prashant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bri said...

Sorrel is divine! We don't put ginger in sorrel here, just cloves, but we do have a ginger beer which is not for the sensitive :)

My SO's uncle makes a beautiful black cake and he ate half of it by himself! It was really good though. I love a heavy, moist and dark black cake.
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My work is for sale. Feel free to shoot me an email; brianna.mccarthy@gmail.com

Fly Girl said...

Bri,I love ginger beer but sorrel is my favorite, with or without ginger. And a heavy moist, dark blake cake is heaven on earth. Thanks for dropping by. I'm an art collector so you'll be hearing from me soon.