How Christmas Smells in My House

The Smells of Christmas


The weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with the smells of ginger, cake, sorrel and (dare I say it) rum! Not that I drink much. I *despise* the taste of alcohol. But I do love rum in baked goods.

My very favorite for this is Jamaican Overproof Rum.



To me, it’s the only type of rum worth using in things like fruitcake.

Okay, Stop! Don’t navigate away from this blog. I’m not talking about the American fruitcake so many people seem to hate (I’ve never even tasted that kind). I’m talking about a Jamaican fruitcake AKA black cake AKA Christmas cake AKA Jamaican wedding cake. All different names for the same thing as far as I’m concerned.

It’s a dark, dense, moist cake made of mixed fruit. In my house that includes raisins, currants, cherries, and prunes. The fruits are soaked in port wine for a long time. I have a container up in the cupboard with fruit that’s been soaking for years. We use it and then replace it every year—sort of like a mother yeast in sourdough bread. (Why am I suddenly reminded of Mother Brain from Metroid?) The fruits are blended and added with the cake. Not only does the fruit make the cake dark, but we add browning to the batter. Browning is a type of sugar syrup that is used to add color to the cake. It changes the flavor a bit too.

Here’s a pic of the cakes:


We also make sorrel in the house around this time. Sorrel is a flower in the hibiscus family.

We get it dried and then boil it with fresh ginger, steep it, drain it, and add sugar. It can be mixed with rum. Here’s a video of how to make it, but we don’t use cinnamon in ours.


Looks deceptively refreshing, doesn’t it? But the sorrel has a strong flavor, and the ginger can get spicy. Ugh! Not my favorite.

Oh, well. Our island has culinary misses as well as hits. No one’s perfect.


-:heart: M.R. Anglin


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