FAST SOAKED FRUIT (NOTE 1):
- 300g / 10 oz raisins
- 150g / 5 oz diced dried apricots , chopped 8 mm / 1/3"
- 75g / 2.5 oz mixed peel , diced 5mm / 1/5
- 150g / 5 oz glace cherries , chopped 8 mm / 1/3"
- 180g / 6 oz dates , diced 5mm / 1/5"
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (280 ml) apple juice, OR 1/3 brandy + 2/3 juice (Note 2)
- 115g / 8 tbsp butter , unsalted (1 US stick)
- 1 1/2 cups (330g) dark brown sugar style="color: #999999;">, packed (Note 3)
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil (or canola, peanut, grapeseed)
- 3 tbsp molasses or golden syrup (Note 4)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 nutmeg
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 2/3 cup (250g) plain flour (all purpose flour)
- 3/4 cup walnuts , chopped (optional)
FOR SERVING (OPTIONAL)
- 500ml / 1 pint pouring custard , homemade or store bought (Note 5)
WHITE CHRISTMAS CAKE DECORATION (OPTIONAL)
- 250g / 8 oz "ready to roll" marzipan
- 250g / 8 oz "ready to roll" white fondant
- Cherries dusted with icing sugar
OTHER DECORATING OPTIONS (OPTIONAL)
- Cherries or other fruit dusted with icing sugar (on plain cake, looks very pretty!)
- Drippy white glaze (directions below)
FAST SOAKED FRUIT:
- Place dried fruit and juice/brandy in a large microwavable container. Microwave 1 1/2 minutes on high or until hot.
- Stir to coat all fruit in liquid. Cover then set aside for 1 hour (to plump up/soak and cool).
- Preheat oven to 160°C / 320°F (140°C fan). Grease and line a 21 - 22 cm / 8 - 9" round cake pan with baking paper (parchment paper) (7 cm / 2.75" tall).
- Using an electric beater, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute on speed 5).
- Add oil and molasses, beat until combined.
- Add salt, spices and baking powder - beat until incorporated.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated
- Stir in the flour.
- When mostly incorporated, stir in the fruit mix (including all the extra liquid in bowl) and walnuts (if using).
- Pour into cake pan, cover with foil and bake for 3 hours 15 minutes, removing foil the last 45 minutes. Skewer inserted into middle should come out clean with no batter on it.
- Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.
- Cake is moist and so full flavoured, it can be eaten plain. But see below for decorating and serving ideas (traditionally served with pouring custard).
- Cutting: Either cut into thin wedges, or cut cake into thin strips (2cm / 0.75" or so), then cut those strips into serving size pieces.
CHRISTMAS CAKE DECORATING OPTIONS:
- Traditional White Christmas Cake (pictured in post) - Marzipan and fondant, see Decorating Note.
- Simple - pile top with fresh cherries or other fruit, dust with icing sugar (powdered sugar). Wrap a ribbon around the cake for extra touch!
- Drippy white glaze - use the glaze in this Lemon Cake recipe, but leave out the lemon juice (ie make a plain sweet white glaze). Flip cake upside down for flat surface then glaze per that recipe.
- Serving - serve with custard for a traditional experience! Either homemade custard or store bought pouring custard (jazz it up by mixing in vanilla seed paste!).
1. Dried fruit - any fruit of choice can be used as long as it totals 855g / 30 oz and it's finely chopped. Combination I've used is to my taste - I do not like my fruit cake too citrusy (hate biting into big chunks of orange peel!). I like having variety for flavour.
Mixed peel is a store bought mix of diced, dried, crystallised (ie sweet) orange and lemon peel. Sometimes it's already chopped, sometimes not. Chop it to size per recipe. It is not fresh peel. Fresh peel will be much stronger and more bitter - not sure how much to use.
Pre chopped mixed dried fruit - store bought mix of pre chopped dried fruit is fine to use. Chopping your own will yield a more moist cake (pre chopped dried fruit is not as moist) BUT having said that, this cake is so ultra moist, it has the give to use pre chopped!
2. Juice / brandy - this cake tastes just as good made with or without alcohol, it comes down to personal taste. I usually make it without because Christmas Cake stretches far and I want everyone to be able to eat it.
BRANDY - If you want to use brandy, use 1/3 cup brandy PLUS 2/3 cup + 2 tbsp juice.
Juice - I like using apple juice for its neutral flavour. Pineapple and other not so strong flavoured juices will be fine here. If you like citrus flavour, use orange juice - you can taste it a bit more than other juices.
3. Dark brown sugar - makes the cake a rich dark brown colour. Can sub with normal brown sugar - will make cake lighter (also looks nice as fruit stands out!)
4. Molasses / golden syrup - adds to the richness of flavour and colour of cake. Either is fine - I interchange year on year.
5. Custard - homemade pouring custard recipe here ("Creme Anglaise"). if you use store bought, pimping it up goes a long way to make it a bit special! Just stir in a bit of vanilla bean paste which will give it those lovely little black vanilla bean specks and improves the flavour.
(PS Difference between homemade and store bought is richness. Homemade custard has a much more luxurious mouthfeel)
6. Serving - cake is moist and so full flavoured it's wonderful eaten plain. But for an extra special touch, serve with custard - see note above.
7. Storage - I've kept it for a month in an airtight container in the fridge and it was good as it was freshly made (at room temperature). Having researched online, looks like 2 to 3 months is the general consensus (for fridge) and a year in the freezer (for this sort of cake, with no alcohol.
8. Serving size - if you cut small slices into rectangles (see custard pouring photo), remembering this is RICH and dense, then it will serve 20 - 25 people. You will be amazed how HEAVY this cake is!
DECORATING - Traditional white Christmas Cake (also see VIDEO & STEP PHOTOS below recipe card):
- Best to use a cake turntable or similar (I used a small lazy susan!)
- Marzipan layer mainly for creating perfect smooth surface for fondant layer.
- Dust work surface with icing sugar. Shape marzipan into a disc then roll out so it's large enough to cover cake and sides (250g/8oz marzipan covers this cake perfectly with some excess).
- Roll marzipan onto rolling pin, then unroll it over the cake.
- Drape over cake, stretching and pressing to cover sides with as few pleats as possible. Use wet table eating knife to smooth pleats, doesn't need to look perfect - this is Layer 1 to smooth cake, plus also for the subtle almond flavour.
Fondant: Dust work surface with more icing sugar, shape into disc, roll out and cover cake as you did with the marzipan.
Quilting decorative side (pictured in post and in video):
- Use something with a clean edge but not as sharp as a knife (I used a cake server).
- Press on a 45 degree angle on side of cake about 2.5 cm / 1" apart all around the cake, then 45 degrees in the opposite direction to create "diamond".
- Dip the blunt end of a wooden skewer into water, then press a light indent into fondant on intersection of diamond.
- Then press in a silver ball (water makes it stick). Repeat all around.
- Top with cherries, dusting with icing sugar, give it a grand spin to admire your work and serve!
General note: Marzipan is prone to cracking and tearing but it doesn't matter because marzipan layer is to create a smooth finish for the fondant layer. Fondant is easier to work with, but you need to be more careful because it's the "pretty" layer. BUT any tears or rough patches can be smoothed out using the side of a wet table knife and / or patching up with excess bits of fondant. The wet knife softens the fondant so you can "spread" it to seal cracks.
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