Sunday 16 November 2008

Christmas Cake Stage 1 – Preparing the Fruit Base

I’m so excited – it’s time to start preparing the fruit ready for the Christmas cake. Making the Christmas cake each year symbolises to me that the holiday season is nearly here and its time to start thinking about festive food and presents. It may seem early to start thinking about Christmas cakes, but they like to sit tightly wrapped in a cool place for several weeks before eating. A weekly feeding of Brandy keeps it moist and helping it mature into something special.

I know many people who say they don’t like Christmas cake but I’m sure that’s because they have only ever had shop bought cake which can be dense, dry and nothing like a good Christmas fruit cake should be. Make your own and be rewarded with a moist rich, lightly spiced, Brandy infused, plump fruit studded cake that will knock the Christmas stocking off any store bought creation.

To start, you need to soak your fruit base in brandy overnight to become all plump and flavoursome. I prepared mine last night and the aroma of all the sweet fruits, orange zest and brandy is wonderful and unlike no other. It smelt so good that I left the bowl containing the soaking fruits in my bedroom overnight so I could breathe in its Christmassy scents.

Christmas Cake Fruit Base
For an 8inch/20cm round cake
175g raisins
175g sultanas
175g currants
85g dried apricots
100g glace cherries
35g mixed candied peel (or zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon)
2 tbsp Brandy

Weight out the raisins, currants and sultanas into a bowl. Sort through the fruit a handful at a time, removing any stalks still attached to the fruit (these won’t be nice to crunch on).
Cut the apricots into small pieces and same size as the raisins, chop the cherries into quarters and add to the other fruit.
Add the candied peel or if you don’t like candied peel, grate over the zest of an orange and a lemon.
Pour over the Brandy, give everything a stir and then over the bowl with clingfilm and leave for at least 4hours or preferably overnight to allow the fruit to absorb the brandy and plump up.

If you run out of one or more of the fruits dried cranberries, peaches, pears, prunes and dates also work well.
If you don’t want to use Brandy then a spiced fruit tea or apple juice would work just as well.


Megan said...

My English mother makes fruitcake every year - so far the ingredients you are using are identical to her recipe.

She has been hunting for the fruit, it's been difficult to find here so early, but, like you said, it has to sit for several weeks and have a good shot of brandy every now and again. I can't wait to see the finished product.

Anonymous said...

Great pic of the fruit, Katie! I've decided not to make a Christmas cake this year, but do Stollen instead.

Looking forward to seeing how yours progresses, though!

Beth (jamandcream) said...

Ive got to get on with mine!!!

The Caked Crusader said...

Thanks for the reminder - I need to start thinking about my cake!
I love making Christmas cake yet, strangely, don't like eating it!

Inne said...

It's never too early to start xmas preparations! A friend of mine starts soaking his fruits in August...

Snooky doodle said...

i love Christmas preparations. I ve already baked 4 christmas cakes and the smell is amazing :)
ahh Christmas :)

Gigi said...

I love it! My mom called me to let me know you had posted this! She said to tell you she's soaking her fruit tonight!

Johanna GGG said...

love the pic of your fruit - and I am wondering what sort of dreams you had with the brandy fumes in your bedroom :-)

Katie said...

I'm usually a light sleeper but I actually slept very well last night! Maybe that's the secret :)

Rosie said...

I adore fruit cake and this recipe looks a stunner!

Rosie x