Along with making Christmas puddings and mincemeat over the last week or so, I have also made this rich fruit cake which will form the basis of my Christmas cake this year. I know that some people say that rich fruit cakes need to be made in advance to allow them time to mature ( and many “feed “them with alcohol over that time too), but I really don’t think it is essential. Packed with so much dried fruit this cake is going to taste good from the day it is made but, if you are organised enough to bake it ahead, then by all means do. One less thing to worry about later and stored in an airtight container in a cool place it will keep for several months or even longer!
I like to save the fiddle of feeding my cake with brandy or rum over the weeks before I want to use it, so I soak my dried fruit in alcohol before baking. To make sure the fruit absorbs as much as possible and to make them big and plump, I heat the alcohol up in a pan until it just begins to bubble around the edge, then add the fruit and allow it to stand over night. Which alcohol you use for this is up to you. I find a sweet wine or sherry works well and this year have used masala. If you are feeling extravagant you could use rum or brandy.
Dried fruit doesn’t go off for a long time. It is, after all dried to preserve it. But it can become a bit too dry though if stored for a while and soaking it in heated alcohol is ideal to plump it up. If its very dry, just add a little more. If you don’t want to use alcohol because you don’t like the flavour, feel a bit broke, or for whatever other reason, apple juice or orange juice will also work. Beware that in that case the cake may not keep as long. It will still be absolutely fine between now and Christmas, so there is no excuse not to get baking.
- 400g currants
- 250g sultanas
- 250g raisins
- 150ml sweet white wine or sherry
- 225g butter, softened
- 225g dark muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- 350g plain flour
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 75g blanched almonds, chopped
- 75g glace cherries, quartered
- 100g mixed peel finely grated zest of 1 orange or 1 lemon
- Place the currants, sultanas and raisins in a bowl. Heat the wine or sherry until it just starts to bubble around the edge of the pan, then pour over the fruit. Cover and allow to stand overnight.
- Grease and line a 23cm round or a 20cm square deep cake tin. Preheat the oven to 160°C/150°fan/gas mark 3.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy Make sure you beat out any lumps in the sugar. Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Next beat in the treacle.
- Sift the flour and mixed spice into the bowl and fold in.
- Add the soaked fruit, almonds, cherries, peel and lemon or orange zest and mix well.
- Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top, then make a slight dip in the middle.
- Bake for 1 hour, then reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/130°C fan/gas mark 1 and cook for a further 1-2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Lining the cake tin
Not sure how to line a cake tin? Follow my step by step guide to lining a round cake tin.
Click here to see how I turned this fruit cake into this years Christmas cake.