A truly British Christmas meal is incomplete without the traditional fruit cake. Despite the throw-back to childhood and a predictable wholesomeness, this cake remains a popular choice for the festive season with its effortless charm.
Traditional British Fruit cake
Homely and yet utterly divine, the fruit cake is rich and spicy, bursting with flavor and is surprising light. The best fruit cakes are matured for at least a few weeks and moistened or ‘fed’ periodically with alcohol such as whiskey or brandy. This makes them ideal for the traditional Stir-up Sunday bake-off, the last before the Advent.
This easy recipe is perfect for a lazy November Sunday afternoon and it will leave your home smelling of all things warm and sweet and Christmassy!
100g dried figs, roughly chopped
100g glacé cherries, cut in half
100g mixed peel
125ml whisky, plus extra to feed
125g butter, softened
125g muscovado sugar
4 eggs, beaten
130g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
50g ground almonds
Grated zest of 1 lemon
50g whole almonds
25g crystallized ginger, chopped
Put the dried fruit and peel in a bowl along with the whisky, cover and leave to soak overnight. Stir well before use. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with 2 layers of baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 140C. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition so the mixture doesn’t curdle.
Mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, spice, ground almonds and a pinch of salt and then fold this into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the soaked fruits, and any remaining whisky, the lemon zest, chopped almonds and ginger, and stir to combine.
Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the surface, scooping out a small hollow in the middle to prevent a doming effect.
Put the cake in the oven for about an hour, then cover with foil, and bake for another 30 minutes and then check the cake. It’s done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean – check every 10 minutes until it’s cooked.
Leave to cool in the tin then use the skewer to poke a few holes almost all the way through the cake, and brush them with more whisky. With the baking parchment still attached, wrap well in grease-proof paper and store in an airtight tin or a layer of foil, repeating the feeding every week or so until you’re ready to ice just before Christmas.
Remember to keep you batter heavy enough so that the dried fruits and nuts can be suspended in it. If the batter is too thick, the fruit will sink to the bottom.
Dried fruit tends to scorch and turn bitter if the oven temperature is too high. Experts recommend baking the cake slowly at a low temperature and lining the inside and outside of the tin with paper. Some recommend a double thickness of parchment paper inside, and several layers of newspaper secured with string outside.
Have any favorite Christmas Cake recipes? Share them with us!