We’re almost midway through September. The Christmas specials are going to begin soon as will the bad Christmas music I hate so much. If you want to torture me, place me in a room with Boney M blaring over the speakers. No need for anything physical, that is enough hell in its own.
Why am I posting a Christmas recipe in September? Well, because fruit cakes and Christmas cakes are actually best started 3 months ahead of Christmas day. Sometimes you’ll get a baker who will agree to make a fruitcake wedding cake for you with just a few weeks notice. Run!
The reason you start fruitcakes so far in advance is because you need to slowly “water” them with brandy or cognac on a weekly basis. This increases the intensity of the flavours in the cake and also gives it that distinct taste you associate with well made fruit cakes. Over the years I’ve come to realise how divisive a topic fruitcakes are. There are two camps to it, the camp that loves fruitcakes and the camp that hates them. I used to belong to the latter camp until I learned to make proper fruit cakes. I also came to appreciate why real fruit cakes are so highly priced. The ingredients one uses to make it are not exactly cheap and you get bakers who try to lower the price by using inferior ingredients…hence the bad rep for fruitcakes.
So I would recommend you start this one at the beginning of October and make sure you dose the cake on a weekly basis. The brandy also stops the cake from going off.
– 500g seedless raisins
– 500g golden sultanas
– 375g black currants
– 125g mixed dried peel
– 125g cherries/ dried cranberries
– 190ml good quality brandy
– 313g cake flour
– 4g salt
– 2g ground ginger
– 2g ground cloves
– 3g ground cinnamon
– 3g mixed spice
– 10g cocoa powder
– 125g Walnuts
– 250g unsalted butter
– 250g treacle sugar
– 25ml (roughly 2 tablespoons) molasses
– 325g eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
– 1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
– 10ml water
1. Remove all the stalks from the fruit, place them in a bowl and mix well. Pour the brandy over the fruit
2. Cover the bowl and leave the fruit to absorb the brandy for about 4 hours. After 4 hours stir the fruit well and leave for another 4 hours to macerate
3. Prepare your cake tin by spraying it with non-stick spray and then lining the bottom and the sides with silicon baking paper
4. Preheat your oven to 150°C
5. Sieve the flour, salt, spices and cocoa into a large bowl
6. Divide the flour mix into 3 separate portions and bowls
7. Mix the first portion with the fruit and brandy mix
8. Roughly chop the Walnuts and add them to the fruit mix
9. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy and then stir in the molasses
10. Add the beaten egg yolks into the butter mixture whilst alternatively adding the 2nd portion of flour
11. Mix this into the fruit mix now.
12. Beat your egg whites to stiff peak and fold the egg whites into the last portion of flour.
13. Spoon the mixture into your lined tin. Place a wet towel onto a baking tray and place the tin on top. Bake the cake whilst on top of the town in the oven. It takes roughly 1 hour but keep checking in the cake by sticking a bamboo skewer or wooden toothpick into it, when read the skewer should come out clean, with no dough sticking to it. Don’t worry, fruit cakes don’t flop, so you can open and close the oven as much as you like.
14. Once done cool the cake on a wire rack. Once cool, dose the cake by pouring 50ml of brandy over it. Wrap the cake in silicone paper and foil and store in a cool and dry area, every week dose the cake with 50ml of brandy.