I love the Holiday season – its fun,festive and everyone’s just happy during this time of the year.Starting from Costumes+Halloween party + Candies to thanksgiving+ doorbusters+blackfriday shopping to Cakes+ Santa+ lights +some more shopping and last but not the least the brand new year – A New beginning , a New Hope. Can this get any better??? When I think about Christmas the first thing that comes to my mind is the “Christmas Fruit Cake”. Is there anything better than this?:-)
Each one has their own recipe; some follow their traditional one, while others have recipe passed on from generations. They are made in a variety of ways – dark & light,with or without yeast,plain / frosted/glazed, some are dense,some are dry,with or without alcohol and so on.
This year, I started baking my cakes well in advance. Fruitcakes need a lot of care and pampering as they taste best when they age and mature. A good cake is the one which is fed well with alcohol either rum or brandy, thus allowing the flavors to set in and intensify. Feeding with alcohol gives the cake a unique flavor; moistness which in turn reduces sweetness and thus making it very rich and scrumptious. It’s a real cake loaded with all the goodness;-) . A traditional Cake contains sultanas, glace cherries, figs, apricots, currants, raisins, candied peel, prunes etc.
I found it easy to use the fruit cake mix (contains– orange and lemon peel,cherries,pineapple,citron, corn syrup) along with raisins, nuts, dried cranberries, sultanas and blueberries. Though there wasn’t any change to the taste; I think I baked my cake for little longer than required; as a result it wasn’t as soft as expected. Also, I felt that it was a little too sweet. Since the readymade fruit mix that I used already had corn syrup, I should have reduced the amount of sugar. The next time I would use ¾ to a cup.
Things to keep in mind while baking – These cakes should always be baked in low temperatures. And since it bakes for a long time, ensure to line the cake tin/pan with parchment on the base as well as the sides. Once baked you may also wrap the cake in cheesecloth before feeding it. For an alcohol free cake, use orange juice instead of rum/brandy. From my personal experience, I feel the batter needs to be heavy enough for the dried fruit and nuts to be suspended in it , if it is thin the fruits might sink in the bottom. Usually while baking cakes with nuts or dry fruits its suggested to toss them with a little bit of flour ( to avoid them to sink down), but in this case it’s not possible as we have soaked it in alcohol.
Once the cake was done, the most difficult part was the wait time. It was right in front of us for a week, the longer we looked, the stronger was our temptation. I wrote so much about feeding ….maturing…ageing and so on. Unfortunately mine didn’t last for more than a week for the entire process. Christmas is yet to come but my cake is gone!!! There isn’t a scrap left and all the flavors were truly delicious!. Guess its time to bake another one!
CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE
Makes one 8” round cake
3 1/4 cup fruit mix
1/2 cup dried cranberries,blueberries and sultanas
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup rum + li’l more for feeding
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon all spice mix
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 ¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of a lemon and orange
Directions : Place the fruitcake mix along with raisins, dried cranberries, sultanas and blueberries in a large bowl and pour rum over it. Mix well and cover and leave to stand overnight. I kept mine for almost 36 hours.
Preheat oven at 300F. Line the base and sides of an 8 x 3” round pan with parchment paper. Mix flour, baking powder, all spice powder & salt and set it aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Once all the eggs are well incorporated, add vanilla extract, molasses, lemon and orange zest. Stir in the flour. When completely mixed, add the fruits and nuts ; do not over beat. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 2 hours or until a skewer inserted to the center comes out clean .If the top of the cake starts to brown, cover it with a foil and bake.
Once done, remove the cake from the oven , allow it to rest and bring it to room temperature. Using a skewer gently poke a few holes on top of the cake. Feed the cake with rum, a tablespoon at a time once every week. You may also brush the cake with rum . Just before serving you may want to decorate it. Either sprinkle confectioner’s sugar or cover it with Marzipan or frost it the way you like….or simply eat it the way it is!