When working in commercial kitchens, my Christmas fruit cake making would usually begin sometime in September when I would receive large boxes of dried fruit which would then be mixed with many bottles of alcohol for a good soak. In late October I would begin making the cakes and set them aside to age until Christmas. By the time the December celebration season was upon us, most of the cakes would have been sold. The flavour of the cakes was deep and rich by this time, heady with booze and spice.
Cakes that had been squirreled away for a year were even better in flavour and no worse for wear over time.
For homemade gifts, bake these in individual paper loaf cases and wrap in clear cellophane to give as gifts.
Once the fruit and alcohol has been combined and soaked, this is a very basic cake to throw together. If you have time, allow your fruit to soak for as long as possible before actually baking the cakes. At least one week would be ideal.
This big batch recipe will make five 1kg cakes (23cm x 13cm x 8cm loaf or equivalent),
or eight 625g cakes (14.4cm x 8cm x 5.5cm)
300g mixed peel
1 cup marmalade
1 cup orange juice
1 cup brandy
1 cup port
4 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
400g brown sugar
- Combine the sultanas, currants, raisins and mixed peel with the marmalade, orange juice, brandy and port. Set aside to soak for as long as possible. Soaking fruit will last several months in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius.
- Cream together the butter and the brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
- Add the flour, spices, salt and whisk thoroughly to combine.
- Stir through the dried fruit until well combined.
- Divide the mixture between each paper case. I use scales to ensure each cake has the same amount of mixture.
- Bake at 150 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes for the mini loaf cakes, or 1 to 1 ¼ hours for the full size loaf.
- Allow to cool completely before wrapping in cellophane. If you prefer, you can wrap in cling film until required and wrap them as needed.
Baked cakes will keep for up to one year, well wrapped in a cool, dark, dry place.