The Traditional Christmas Cake is a heady fruit cake. You need to decide that you are making it well in advance (or not – see notes at the end). This is because the fruits used for the cake need to be soaked in rum for about 30 to 60 days before you make your cake. You then use these rum soaked fruits to bake the cake. Some guys prefer to soak both the dry fruits and the nuts, but I prefer to soak only the dry fruits in advance. Also, please do not use any whole dry fruits. Ensure that you cut them into little pieces – only then will you be able to neatly slice your cake later without it breaking.
After the process of soaking the dry fruit, you will need at least another 10 days to bake, feed and decorate it. But the easy part is that you don’t have to do everything at once and can plan accordingly. So make sure you to bake the cake about 8 to 10 days before Christmas, so that you have a drunken decorated cake to cut at Christmas 🙂
Part I – Soaking the Dry Fruits
- Tooti Frooti [Candied Raw Papaya] – 100 gms
- Glazed Cherries – 50 gms
- Black Raisins – 100 gms
- White Raisins – 100 gms
- Candied Fruit Peel – 50 gms
- Dark Rum (40 to 50 Proof) – 600 to 750 ml ml
Step 1: Cut all the dry fruits, including the raisins into tiny pieces.
Step 2: Mix the pieces up in a bowl. Then add 500 ml rum and mix well. Transfer to a sterile glass jar.
Step 3: The next day the fruits will swell. Top up the jar with 100 ml of rum or more. (The fruit must remain immersed in the rum at all times) Cover and leave till the time comes to use them. We’ll call these, the Soaked Fruit – 1
Part II – Some more pre-prep. on the day you want to bake the cake:
[ Standard Measure – 1 cup = 250 ml ]
- Caramel (see here) – 2 portions
- Soaked Fruit – 2:
- Peeled Almonds (or cashew or walnuts) – 100 gms
- Dry Cranberries – 50 gms
- Glazed Cherries – 50 gms
- Spice Sugar Mix:
- Cloves– 6
- Cinnamon– 1 inch
- Nutmeg– ½ piece
- Cardamom–5 to 6 (use only the seeds)
- Sugar (white, granulated) – 1 cup.
Step 4: Drain the Soaked Fruit – 1 and reserve the liquids. Measure 2 cups of the drained fruits for use in this recipe and keep ready.
Step 5: Chop all the fruits and nuts for the Soaked Fruit – 2 and soak in the liquids of the Soaked Fruit – I for at least an hour.
Step 6: Prepare the caramel and allow to cool.
Step 7: Grind the spices with some of the sugar for 3 to 4 short bursts. Then add the rest of the sugar and grind in short bursts till fine. We’ll call this the Spiced Sugar.
Step 8: Line two 7 inch diameter baking pans with double sheets of parchment paper. Keep the lengths of the sides tall so that the cake gets space to rise well. It will also help while removing the cake out of the pan.
Step 9: Drain the Soaked Fruit – 2 after it has soaked for at least an hour and reserve the liquids.
Part III – Making of the Cake:
Yield – 2 Cakes of 1 Kg. each
- Maida [APF] – 300 gms
- Eggs– 4
- Salted Butter – 220 gms
- Soda-bi-carb – ½ tsp.
- Baking Powder – 1 tsp.
- Salt– a pinch
Step 10: Mix both the drained Soaked Fruit 1 and 2 in a bowl and then add about 6 tbsp. (out of the 300 gms) of the maida [APF] and coat all the fruits well.
Step 11: Melt the butter on low heat and transfer to a bowl. After the melted butter has cooled, add the Spiced Sugar to it and whisk till properly mixed. Then add the eggs one at a time and whisk till it all turns creamy and fluffy.
Step 12: Set your oven to Pre-heat at 200° C
Step 13: Next add the maida (in two batches), salt, baking powder and soda-bi-carb and mix till the batter is smooth. Then add the cooled caramel and mix lightly.
Step 14: Finally add the flour coated fruits in two batches and fold in lightly using a rubber/silicon spatula. Then add 4 tbsp. of the reserved liquids and fold again.
Step 15: Transfer the batter to the two baking tins and place in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 170° C and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Take a thin knife and pierce into both the cakes to check if they are baked (The knife should come out clean. Baking temperature and time are indicative and depend on the type of oven you are using).
Step 16: Remove the cake tins from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Part IV – Feeding the Cake:
- Rum – 60 ml per cake
Step 17: Spread some foil on a clean surface. Then spread two layers of cling film on the foil.
Step 18: Place a cake on the cling film. Poke some holes into the cake with a bamboo skewer. Brush the top of the cake with the rum. And wrap with the cling film and then with the foil. Do this for the other cake as well. Put the wrapped cakes in an airtight container or cake tins and keep away for 3 days. Then open the cakes on the fourth day and brush it again with another 60 ml of rum each. Wrap and keep away till 2 days before Christmas.
Part V – Decorating the Cake:
- Cooked Marzipan (see here) – 1 portion for each cake
- Liquid Food Colours (as per your choice) – a couple of drops
Step 19: Open up the cakes and keep ready.
Step 20: Place one portion of freshly prepared Marzipan on a clean platform and let it cool till you can handle it. Then knead using some icing sugar whilst still warm.
Step 21: Roll out and gently take the marzipan and place over the cake to cover it fully. Press it around lightly to adhere to the cake and then cut off any extra portions. Do this for the other cake as well.
Step 22: Knead the left over marzipan and divide into portions as per your requirement. Add a different food colour to each portion and knead. Then decorate the cake with the different coloured marzipan as per your liking.
- Always I have baked one cake of 1 Kg. at one time
- Some choose to baste the cake with rum starting 2 months in advance in fortnight intervals. I feel the flavor of the rum is too loud when this is done.
- Covering / decorating the cake with marzipan is optional. If you choose to decorate, you could also boil ¼ cup sugar in ½ water till the sugar dissolves completely. Then cool and brush on the marzipan to give it some sheen / gloss.
- If you have not soaked any fruits,you can also bring the fruits to boil with the rum on medium heat and then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and soak for 4 to 5 hours stirring them 2 to 3 times in between. Then strain and continue with the instructions in the recipe.
- Your get a better finish for the cake using fondant. But using marzipan makes it tastier!
- Always remember that while starting with any cake batter, all ingredients must be at room temperature.
- Please read the recipe at least a couple of times to understand the steps involved.