Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas! To be honest, I am totally confused with the fact how fast the week after New Year has flown by. Holidays make me lazy, especially after such a difficult term. But one of the pleasures of being on holiday is a freedom to loaf around without feeling guilty. And I do! I do nothing but watching How I met Your Mother day and night. At the moment I am in the middle of the 8th season! I just can not give up, it is only 1 and 1/2 season left (780 minutes, that are equal to 13 more hours of watching))). Hah, crazy, right? Tell me I am not the one crazy like that here!? But I really liked the series - jesting about situations that can happen to each of us in real life. So, for all of you who haven't yet watched this series (or if you just don't know with what to amuse yourself during the holidays), I highly recommend it.
Back to our Fruit Cake. I can't imagine Christmas without this cake. Usually we cook a lot of dishes and they can vary from year to year, but this cake is sort of a tradition. Three weeks before Christmas I bake a fruit cake and let it rest in the fridge, soaking it from time to time with alcohol. Actually I should have written the recipe much earlier, I know. I hope that you will keep it in mind and will be armed with the recipe the next year.
And also you wouldn't have to worry about what to bake for Christmas, because the cake would be waiting for you in the fridge and you with a safe conscience would loaf away your time. Win/win!
CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE
one 8-inch (20 cm) cake
- The best thing about this cake is that it has to be baked at least 3 weeks ahead before Christmas. During this period of time it will become even better. Regularly soaked with alcohol, the cake will not become dry and the flavours will become more intense.
- It is not necessarily to strictly follow the recipe, you are free to make changes! You just need to have basic notions.
- Firstly, cake batter can be dark- or light - coloured. It depends on the type of sugar you use. If you use granulated or light brown sugar, the cake will have a light colour, and if it is dark brown sugar (or molasses), the cake will have a deep-brown colour. The best variant is when used a combination of light brown (or granulated) sugar with dark brown (or molasses). I used a combination of granulated sugar and molasses. Molasses gives a very rich and unique flavour, however you can substitute it in the ratio 1:1 (100 ml molasses = 100 g sugar).
- Secondly, which dried fruits to use is totally up to you. If the cake batter is light-coloured, I'd rather use sultanas, dried apricots and candied lemon peels. Also you can use nuts.
- Thirdly, the ratio of fruits to cake batter. Traditionally this cake contains a lot of dried fruits, and cake batter is used like a glue to stick it together. I love it that way, however if you prefer less dried fruits (not the batter in the fruits, but fruits in the batter:) ), you can reduce the amount of the filling. Then you will have to consider the baking time and also reduce it (1,5-2 hours for 1/2 kg dried fruits).
- The more dried fruits you use, the longer the cake will keep. In the fridge it will keep up to a month.
- Fourthly, you can experiment with the alcohol you use for soaking the dried fruits and brushing the cake. Traditionally it can be rum, brandy, sherry, muscat. But I decided to go forward this time and to play with flavours. For soaking dried fruits I used coffee liqueur and for brushing the cake - Sambuka, which goes amazing with molasses!! Believe me, fantastic!
for the cake
200 g unsalted butter, room temperature
100 g sugar
100 g molasses
250 g flour
50 g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
about 1 kg dried fruits:
- dried cherries
- dried cranberries
- dried apricots
- dried figs
- candied orange peels
- dried cantaloupe
100 ml alcohol (I used coffee liqueur)
for brushing the cake
1. Make ahead: Chop dried fruits into even pieces and pour over 100 ml of alcohol of your choice. Leave to soak overnight (or you can do it one or two weeks before baking).
2. Preheat the oven to 150 °C (300 F). Butter an 8-inch (20 cm) cake pan and line the bottom and the sides of the pan with a buttered parchment paper, so that it is 2 inches (5 cm) above the pan.
3. Combine 2 tbsp flour (out of the measured 250 g) with dried fruits. This step will make it easier to combine dried fruits evenly with the batter.
4. Beat the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well each time.
5. Combine the flour with baking powder, salt and spices. Fold into the batter and mix well. Fold in ground almonds.
6. Add dried fruits into the batter and mix until evenly combined.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and decorate the top with blanched almonds. Bake for about 2 - 2 and 1/2 hours (start checking after 2 hours - the skewer should have a little crumbs on it, otherwise the cake will be dry). Also if the top of the cake starts burning, cover the cake with foil.
8. Remove cake from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Brush with alcohol of your choice. Wrap with the foil and keep in the fridge for at least 3 weeks until Christmas, brushing the cake periodically (once or twice a week ) with alcohol.