Christmas Cake is a non-negotiable for our family at Christmas. The richer, and the boozier the better. Fair warning – this is not a waistline friendly recipe, so slimmer friends turn away from temptation now!
I can’t think of Christmas Cake and not think of my Dad. He loves them so much that you’d be lucky to get a piece when I make him one, as he’ll hide it away and take a little chunk to work with him everyday until he’s eaten the lot. When his mother died, he kept the last fruit cake she made him for many years, unable to bear cutting it. Sadly, I never met her or had her recipe, but I hope this recipe of mine would measure up favourably in her estimation.
The first thing I do is to pre-soak my dried fruit, which I feel is totally non-negotiable. If you think fruit cake is something dry and dusty, then you need to soak for longer or add more liquid to your batter. The desiccated fruit will suck all the moisture out of the cake if you don’t do this crucial step. To keep it affordable, I use strongly brewed tea.
Apart from adding moisture by pre-plumping up my fruit, I make sure that no matter what selection I use, that I always have at least 100g worth of prunes. These are some of the softest and squishiest dried fruits and really do add a wonderful squidge factor to the finished cake.
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Amaretto is my chosen liqueur for many Christmas bakes but you can of course use more traditional spirits like brandy, rum or whisky. We are almond nuts in my family so it always goes down a treat. One question I get is what you can use if you don’t want to bake with alcohol – here I would simply use an extra 50ml tea.
Can you see how much more moist the batter is for this cake than your standard Christmas cake?
To ensure that the cake bakes beautifully, I adopt a low and slow baking temperature and time. I line my tin with two layers of reusable silicone cake tin liners which is the first step in preventing the cake from burning around the edges.
Plus, I put a baking dish filled with water in the bottom of the oven to create a moist baking environment at least initially. I also use a soaking wet baking belt (or two skinny ones) to slow down the baking, encourage the cake to cook evenly and without the outsides scorching.
It also has the added benefit of making the cake rise beautifully flat so if you want to use this cake in, say, a tiered wedding cake or simply cover it with sugarpaste, you can do so with little to no levelling required.
I like my fruit cake really dark so I use both treacle and dark muscovado sugar plus plenty of my homemade mixed spice. This recipe reminds me of my Malt Loaf in some ways, as it’s so moist it is almost fudgy in it’s texture. It is the perfect last-minute Christmas Cake as whilst it does improve with keeping, it is moist and juicy, ready to be served as soon as it’s cooled if you simply can’t wait!
It’s perfect washed down with a cup of tea (or a wee dram of something stronger), especially when it’s freezing cold outside. I will be trotting it out for afternoon tea over the holiday period and also at dinner time in the days after Christmas, when it shall be eaten in dainty little pieces off the same plate as a selection of cheese, cold cuts and chutney. If you have never had fruit cake with a little nugget of mature cheddar, you must do so this Christmas! That is, if Daddums hasn’t beaten you to it 😉
The day before baking: The day of baking: Recipe Notes: *= use any combination of dried fruit you like. I tend to chose mine based on what I have in the pantry! Good choices include: As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
For the fruit:
For the cake:
The day before baking:
The day of baking:
*= use any combination of dried fruit you like. I tend to chose mine based on what I have in the pantry! Good choices include:
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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