Christmas Fruit Loaf Cake
Christmas is here again and for many, it is a time for celebration and jubilation. But for me, Christmas also tells me that the year is coming to an end and the contemplative and reflective mood sets in. I generally steer away from crowds so no count down parties for me. But what I do like is a bit of festive indulgence, something in sync with the mood for the holidays. No turkey for me, not the traditional way at least. Had never been a fan and I probably never will. On the contrary, I’m all for the numerous sweet treats which the Christmas season offers. Eggnogs, gingerbread men, assorted cookies… are just some of the things I love! But what I’d always craved for every year around this time, is a good Christmas fruit cake. Rich and moist, it is packed with nutty and fruity indulgence amidst all the rummy alcoholic decadence. But truth be told, despite how much I liked it, I couldn’t go beyond two slices. With the traditional Christmas fruit cakes, it was sheer heaven as the flavours and aroma just hit me instantly as I sink my teeth into it for the first bite. But soon, the richness turns into heft and before long, the sickening sweetness creeps in. That is the reason why I’d not made a proper Christmas fruit cake in years as I knew my family would never be able to finish it proper. All this was until a good friend Chris shared a fruit cake with me last year and I was immediately blown away. It was all of that is of a fruit cake that I’d always thought of and hoped for but it doesn’t taste as heavy as the traditional ones would. Another friend Lynette too shared her fruit cake recipe with me and upon comparison, I found striking similarities between these two recipes used by these two ladies. So the best thing I did was to combine what I thought to be the strengths and wonderful attributes of both recipes and it turned out wonderful! So this is the recipe to create the Christmas Loaf Cake which I’d always wanted and here I am to share it with you all!
As with all Christmas fruit cakes，the key is the dried fruit used. I’d used a bottle gifted by Chris a year ago so the dried fruit are really “potent” after soaking in rum for so long. Additionally, I started another bottle with sultanas, more glaced cherries and dried cranberries as well a couple of months before baking to ensure that there is sufficient for a couple of loaves for myself, as well as to bless my friends!
I don’t know about you guys, but I do like to give the bottles a shake once in a while. And since they are practically airtight, I like to invert the bottles and let them stand upside down from a couple of days to a week or two, until I remember to flip them back again that is! One teeny weeny act I like to do is to open the bottles and take a quick whiff once in a while! Intoxicatingly yummy!
On a fateful day a week before Christmas, it is time to bake the fruit cakes! The morsels of fruit are drained. Reserve the rum for later use. Any leftover rum can be used for next year’s Christmas Fruit Cake! No wastage at all!
The recipe is fairly simple but given the amount of ingredients, a standmixer would probably make work a lot easier. I basically used my Kenwood on paddle attachment for everything from the aerating of eggs and sugar to folding the flour to form the final batter.
After the cakes are taken out of the oven, they are generously punctured with a toothpick. I did this while the cakes are still hot as this is the time when they absorb the rum the most efficiently. The effect likens brushing kirsch on frangipane as I had done with Sugino’s Tartlette au Figues. And this is repeated over the next couple of days with the leftover rum from soaking the fruits, as many time as you could afford or wish to. This helps to keep the cake moist, as well as to mature its taste in the days leading up to Christmas. If you are looking for a fruit cake recipe which you would be able to enjoy without feeling guilty, do give this one a try!
Christmas Fruit Loaf Cake (makes 2 x 20 cm pound cake loaves)
500g of mixed fruits (sultanas, raisins, citrus peel, cherries, cranberries etc) soaked in rum for at least 2 weeks, the longer the better.
200g chopped nuts (walnut, almonds, peacan etc)
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs (about 55 – 60g each)
1 tsp mixed spice powder (lebkuchen aka gingerbread spice), optional
125g fine grained or castor sugar
125g molasses (otherwise can omit castor sugar and change to 250g molasses)
250g unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1-2 tbsp vanilla paste (I’d used Nielsen Massey)
Drain the dried fruits using a colander or wired sieve. Collect soaking rum in a bowl, cover and set aside for later use.
Sieve plain flour and baking powder several times to thoroughly mix.
Cream butter, sugar and molasses until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs while the mixer is still running, one at the time. Scrape down sides of the bowl with spatulas as needed. Add vanilla paste as well and mix until evenly incorporated.
With the paddle attachment at the lowest speed, add the flour mixture over 3 additions
Finally, add in all fruits and nuts until the mixture just come together. Go slow and do not overmix as it would work up the gluten too much.
Pour the batter into the loaf tins already greased and lined with baking parchment.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 45 min.
Reduce the oven temperature to bake at 150 degrees Celsius for another 45 min until the skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack with a baking tray below to catch the drips.
While the cake is still hot, use a scribe or skewers to poke holes all over the surface of the cake.
Brush the reserved soaking rum all over the cake body.
Wrap the cake with cling film and refrigerate in chiller.
Over the next couple of days leading to Christmas, brush the cake periodically with soaking rum and refrigerate. I did three coats of rum altogether.I think it can do with more!
To serve, simply remove the cake from the fridge, cut into slices and allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.
I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #38: Boozy-licious (December 2013) hosted by Jasline of Foodie Baker