This Venezuelan take on the Holiday Fruit Cake (Torta Negra) is made with macerated fruits and nuts, and layered with a browned butter frosting. It’s a must have dessert during the holidays!
About This Recipe
This Holiday Fruit Cake (Torta Negra) is a traditional dessert in Venezuela, only baked during the holidays. Its great flavor comes from the macerated fruits and spices that are soaked overnight.
This cake makes for a great holiday gift for friends and co-workers. Just wrap it in cellophane and put it in a cake tin. I wanted to make this Torta de Navidad (Holiday Cake) to share a little bit of my home with you and I’m hoping this modern take on this traditional cake becomes a staple holiday recipe for you, too!
For the Cake Batter:
- Butter: This is the fat that will give the cake a moist and tender crumb. Using unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in the batter.
- Granulated sugar: provide sweetness and structure.
- Dark brown sugar: has a richer flavor and more moisture than granulated sugar, and helps keep the cake moist.
- Eggs: provide structure, rise, and flavor. I suggest using large eggs at room temperature for best results.
- All-purpose flour: provides structure to the cake.
- Baking powder: a leavening agent, which means that it helps the cake to rise.
- Baking soda: also a leavening agent, and it helps to neutralize the acidity of the applesauce.
- Applesauce: adds moisture and flavor to the cake, and it also helps to make it more tender.
- Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice add a warm, nutty and slightly peppery flavor.
For the Fruit Mixture
- Blanched almonds: Blanched almonds are almonds that have had their skins removed. They add a nice crunch and nutty flavor.
- Walnuts: add another layer of crunch and flavor to the cake.
- Dried Cranberries: add a bit of tartness and sweetness to the cake.
- Golden and regular raisins: classic dried fruits that add a nice flavor.
- Candied ginger: has a spicy, sweet flavor that is perfect for holiday baking.
- Rum: adds a complex flavor and moisture to the cake.
For the Brown Butter Frosting
- Butter: the key ingredient in frosting; it provides richness, flavor, and moisture.
- Powdered sugar: makes the frosting smooth and spreadable, and adds a little bit of sweetness.
- Whole milk: used in frosting to thin it out and make it spreadable.
- Vanilla extract: adds a subtle warm flavor.
Make the Fruit Mixture:
- In a large bowl, combine the chopped blanched almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, golden raisins, raisins, and candied ginger.
- Pour the rum over the fruit mixture and toss to coat evenly. Cover the bowl and set aside to soak for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Top Tip: Soaking the fruits and nuts for over 12 hours allows the ingredients to absorb the flavors resulting in a more flavorful cake.
Make the Cake Batter:
- Cream butter and salt until light and fluffy and pale in color. Gradually add sugar and brown sugar, beating until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sifted all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Reduce speed to low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Stir in the applesauce, strained fruit mixture, and walnuts until evenly distributed. Discard rum.
- Divide mixture into two prepared pans. Bake for 50 minutes or or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Helpful Tip: Overtaxing the batter leads to a dry cake.
Make the Brown Butter Frosting:
- Melt the butter over medium heat until light brown and fragrant.Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and 2-3 tablespoons of milk until smooth. Gradually add the cooled browned butter, beating until light and fluffy.
- Add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting reaches the desired consistency.
Helpful Tip: If the frosting is too thick, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
Assemble the cake:
- Once the cakes are completely cooled, place one layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a generous amount of frosting over the top of the cake layer.
- Place the second cake layer on top of the frosting. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
- Decorate the cake with fresh fruits and chopped nuts, if desired. I added gooseberries, which is a fruit native to Peru, and chopped walnuts.
Substitutions & Variations
- Choose your favorite fruits and nuts to use. The traditional version includes raisins, prunes, candied fruits, walnuts and figs.
- If you don’t have rum, you can substitute it with another type of liquor, such as brandy or bourbon.
- To store an un-frosted cake, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Store it at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- To store a frosted cake, place it in an airtight container. Store it at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezing Instructions: Let the cake cool completely before freezing. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze the cake for up to 3 months.
- Thawing Instructions: remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Once the cake is thawed, let it come to room temperature before frosting or serving.
Helpful Tip: Please note that freezing a fruitcake will slightly alter its texture. It will become slightly firmer and denser. However, the flavor will remain the same.
- Macerate the fruits and nuts for over 12 hours in a mixture of rum and spices, this allows them to absorb the flavors of the liquor, resulting in a moister and more flavorful cake. To do this properly, place them in an air tight container and refrigerate overnight. Allow it to come to room temperature for 3 hours before baking the cake.
- Drain the mixture before adding it to the batter, and replace the liquid needed with applesauce. It gives it a less rum-y flavor and adds all the moisture.
- For even-sized cakes: weigh the batter and split it evenly between two 8-inch round pans.
- Don’t overmix the batter: Overmixing can lead to a tough, dry cake. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.
- To prevent the cake from sticking to the pans, grease them well and flour them lightly before adding the batter.
Did You Like This Recipe?
Love this easy apple galette with puff pastry recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card & leave a comment below. Sign up for Yoga of Cooking’s newsletter and keep in touch on Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and YouTube.Print