There are so many kinds of Christmas cakes – light, dark, some fruit, lots of fruit, alcohol, no alcohol. What’s your favourite? I love all sorts of fruit cakes, and this one is pretty darn good. If you love rich, dark, fruit filled fruit cakes, then this might be the best Christmas Cake ever!
I choose to soak my whole cake, rather than just the fruit, for several weeks. Doing it this way, means I get to make it early before the crazy rush in the last couple of weeks before Christmas.
Ingredients for fruit cake
When I’m making a fruit cake, I love to add plenty of fruit and have some variety too, not just the usual stuff. Oh, and I love a few toasted slivered almonds tossed in. The texture is brilliant. You have to remember when you add dried fruit to a cake batter; the dried fruit will soak up some of the moisture. This is where the soaking beforehand comes in, but hey, you can do it after; that still works. These are my favourite additions.
- Sultanas and rasins = dried as they love to soak up the alcohol you’re adding
- Dates = give a lovely texture to the cake.
- Dried apricots = I like to add these for the colour but also the flavour. They add a little zing.
- Dried pineapple = These can be hard to get sometimes, if you can’t get them just add the same weight of something else. Ginger pieces is lovely too.
- Glacé cherries halved or whole. When I was little my Nan would make her cake with whole cherries. I loved to pick them out, and I felt sad if my bit didn’t have very many. I’ve made sure everyone will get some with this recipe. 😉
- Chopped candied peel = I know some of you don’t like this, but if you add it in this small amount, trust me when I say it will add a lovely flavour without being overbearing.
- Slivered almonds toasted = Please toast these. You can do them the day you’re baking the cake, they don’t have to soak. 5 minutes at 130°C is all they need. Toasting them will give them a better flavour and a little crunch.
Soak just the fruit or the whole fruit cake?
You can soak the fruit for days (or weeks) by adding alcohol and mixing as you go, allowing the dried fruit to soak up all the liquid. We do this by adding alcohol (or fruit juice or even a mix) bit by bit until the fruit is plump, or you can just soak overnight and add the rest of the alcohol after the cake is baked. I choose to add most of the alcohol later, get the baking done and out of the way—nothing worse than getting near the day and running out of time to make and bake. So I choose to soak overnight, bake the cake the next day, then soak the cake in the following days or weeks. For me, that’s much easier.
You have to remember that dried fruit will suck moisture out of your cake as it bakes so soaking the fruit is generally a good idea. However, if you get the batter/fruit ratio just right, you can bake your cake and feed it with booze later. On the other hand, Glace fruit isn’t going to soak up any liquid from your batter; I like to use a good mix in my cake.
If you think, why not just start with a wet batter? It sounds like a good idea, but think about what happens; if you do this, the fruit doesn’t have time to soak up the fruit during the baking, and the batter ends up being too wet. So? you’ll end up with a gluey texture, and we don’t want that. This can also happen if you have oversoaked your fruit before baking. Another good reason to choose my preferred method. ?
How to start the recipe
The first thing I do is add the driest fruit to the bottom of my bowl and layer all the glace fruit on top. Pour in the alcohol and allow that small quantity to soak overnight without mixing. Glace or candied fruit isn’t going to be able to soak up any more liquid, so popping that on the top makes sense. Cover it and leave it overnight. The following day, stir it. You shouldn’t see much liquid in the base of the bowl, but if you do, just mix it and give it couple more hours to infuse.
How long to bake the fruit cake
I like to make sure my tin is well greased and I line it with a doubled over sheet of baking paper allowing it to be higher than the tin. Having your paper up high will help protect the top of your cake. It also helps bake more evenly too. It will be in the oven for quite a while, and slow and even is what we want.
Oven Temperature for fruit cake
I like to have my oven low. Bake it off low and slow; 130°C to 140°C fan is perfect for me. My oven takes just over 2 hours to bake this cake off to 85°C in the centre. I teach this sort of thing in Bake Club, cool pastry chef tips. 😉
When you remove it from the oven, pierce it all over the top with a skewer and brush a couple of tablespoons of alcohol over the top. I like to use the same thing I used in the recipe. If you start your cake in November you do this at least once a week until 2 weeks before Christmas. This allows the surface of the cake to dry a little so you can decorate it.
Need More Christmas Inspiration?
- Plum Pudding recipe
- Stollen recipe
- Christmas Biscotti recipe
- Gingerbread Cake recipe
- Honey Jumbles Christmas-style recipe
We also have a great online Bake Club Christmas baking recipes Season 4
Boozy Christmas Fruit cake
5 stars tells us you love the recipebecs-table.com.au
- 1 Thermomix (optional)
- 450 grams sultanas
- 250 grams raisins
- 100 grams dates chopped
- 200 grams dried apricots chopped
- 60 grams dried pineapple chopped
- 250 grams glacé cherries halved
- 100 grams chopped candied peel
- 100 grams slivered almonds toasted
- 1 orange finely grated zest
- 130 g brandy Rum, whisky, bourbon, whatever you like. I don't tend to mix spirits, but its a personal choice.
- 230 grams unsalted butter softened
- 200 grams light brown sugar
- 255 – 260 g Whole eggs 5 extra-large
- 300 grams plain flour or Well and Good Plain Gluten Free
- More alcohol for soaking (after the baking) Lots if you like. 😉
- Weigh all the fruit and toasted slivered almonds into a large bowl, starting with the driest. (I like to add the driest fruit on the bottom so it can soak up more.) Add the orange zest and alcohol, cover and allow to soak overnight without mixing.
- In the morning, mix and leave for another couple of hours before continuing with the baking stage.
- Preheat your oven to 130°C fan (266°F fan). Line a 20cm (8″) round deep cake tin with a double sheet of baking paper, allowing for a good 4 – 5cm of paper above the rim of the tin. This helps protect the top of your cake and ensures the cake wont spill over. *See Video.
- Add the unsalted butter and brown sugar to a mixing bowl or stand mixer and beat until the mix is light and fluffy. TM: use small cold cubes of butter, weigh them and the sugar to the TM bowl. Set for 30 seconds/speed 4, scrape down and lift the mix from the base, add one egg and set for 5 seconds/speed 4, then add the butterfly.
- In two separate bowls or jugs. Bowl 1, weigh out your flour and set it aside. Bowl 2, crack the remainder of the eggs into it and set aside.
- The next step is to beat the eggs into the sugar/butter mix one at a time, adding a tablespoon or so of the weighed out flour between each egg addition to prevent the mixture from splitting. TM: Start the blades running at speed 3. Add one egg at a time through the hole in the lid, adding a tablespoon or so of the weighed-out flour between each egg addition to prevent the mixture from splitting.
- Once all the eggs are in, you can sift over the remaining flour and fold in using a spatula. TM: Add the remaining flour to the TM bowl and mix to combine 5 seconds/speed 3.5 Check to see if you need to scrape down and repeat.
- Stir in the fruit mixture, making sure you've entirely combined everything. TM: Remove around 1/3 of the batter from the TM bowl and fold it into the fruit mix. Repeat until all the batter is well combined.
- Spoon the mix into the prepared tin, levelling off the top.
- Bake on the middle shelf for around 2 hours. Check the colour of the top of the cake at around the 1.5-hour mark; if it’s already a nice golden brown, you can cover the cake with a baking paper-lined foil cap. Continue to bake until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean; if it does, it’s cooked; if not, give it another 5 – 15 minutes before checking again. If you have a temperature probe, the centre should be between 85 – 87°C when cooked.
- Leave the cake in the tin until it’s completely cooled before removing it. While the cake is still hot, use a skewer to make 20 or so holes in the top of the cake; then, using a pastry brush, liberally brush the brandy on the top. Cover the cake with baking paper and foil or baking paper and a tea towel and set aside overnight.
- The next day, remove the cake from the tin and place it in an airtight container. (You can use a couple of sheets of baking paper under it if you like.)
- Once or twice a week, brush the surface of the cake with the same alcohol you used in the baking. I do this until two weeks before Christmas; then, I allow the surface to dry a little before decorating.
- Once the surface is a little dryer, you can decorate it with either fondant (rolled icing), royal icing or apricot glaze (sieved jam) with nuts and glace fruit.
Want to know more?
Check out all my tips in this post. If you love Christmas fare, why not check out my eBook “Christmas at Bec’s.”
Or our popular Bake Club Series has a Christmas edition Called Bake Club Season 4 Christmas. It’s filled with brilliant recipes and tips.