“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
Do you make your own Christmas fruitcake each year? If you do it’s time to soak your fruit, in preparation for a flavoursome and moist cake. If you don’t why not join us and make your own. I promise it’s easier than you think, and the taste of a homemade Christmas cake will always surpass a store-bought one. My grandmother Marga taught me the importance of fruit soaking for a great-tasting cake, and I think of her every year when I prepare my fruit.
Here are my two favourite Christmas Cake Recipes. Both use 1.2kg of mixed fruit. Good combinations include raisins, currants, sultanas, mixed peel, glace cherries, cranberries, prunes and dates – but use what you prefer. I often buy a kilogram bag of mixed dried fruit and then add a 200g bag of glace cherries. To soak this much fruit I use a cup of liquid – either alcohol or black tea. Don’t use a fruit juice to soak over time as it can ferment or go moldy!
This first recipe is for a traditional ‘Make and Mature’ cake. This involves creaming together eggs and butter, sifting in the flours and spices and fruit and then slow baking. The texture and aroma of this cake are so incredibly good. (It’s the cake that is featured in the picture at the top of this post.)
Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake
The second is my ‘Last-Minute’ Christmas fruitcake. You literally melt and mix this cake in a big saucepan on the stove. It has no eggs and is a condensed milk fruit cake. So good! I know, it’s a recipe that can be made in a hurry if you didn’t have time to soak your fruit and ‘feed’ your cake, but it will taste even better if you’re organised enough to soak your fruit in advance.
No matter what recipe you choose, or even if you already have a recipe of your own to follow, the first step is to soak the fruit to make it plump and flavoursome.
What To Soak With And For How Long
You can use alcohol or black tea. With alcohol use dark rum, brandy, sherry or whiskey. My choice is usually a dark rum or brandy. Soak with alcohol for up to one month.
With black tea you can use a standard cup of very strong plain tea, but it also tastes amazing to use a flavoured black tea. I have used a vanilla-scented black tea, and also a chai tea and both of these added depth of flavour. If using tea soak for up to two weeks.
Note: If you live in an especially hot place fruit can ferment. Make sure to keep it in a cool dark place (away from pets, small children and thieving partners) while it is soaking.
Cut Up Your Fruit First
Prepare the fruit by cutting any larger fruits into bite-sized pieces. Remove any pits or small stalks that you find. I usually leave cherries whole if small or cut them in half if they are super-big because I love the visuals of them studded through my cake, but feel free to leave whole or to cut as small as you desire.
Then make one of two choices.
1. Place your chopped and sorted fruit into a large ceramic bowl. Pour the alcohol or tea over. Stir well. Cover the dish with some kind of lid. Don’t let any metal touch the fruit.
2. Try my jar method. Take a large glass jar, big enough to fit your fruit. Layer the fruit or mix together and then spoon into jar. Add alcohol or tea. Place lid on tightly and then turn jar upside down a few times to distribute liquid.
Stir or upend the jar occasionally until the fruit is plump and moist and ready for your cake.
If the liquid is completely absorbed you can add a little more, a tablespoon at each time, every few days. This is known as ‘feeding your fruit’.
When you are ready to bake your cake take the fruit out of the bowl or jar and reserve any syrup that is left behind. This can be used to brush over the cooked cake (which is known as ‘feeding your cake’ but it is also good on ice-cream!
Sending kitchen happiness your way, Nicole ❤ xx
10 thoughts on “How To Soak Dried Fruit For Your Christmas Cake!”
this was just what i wanted as I am planning on making a christmas cake!
This made me think of my late nanna, who I miss so much
I never made fruitcake before, it´s not a traditional food with us. So I have some questions: when do you bake this cake? In early november? Will it still be good at Christmas, I wonder? Maybe I´ll give it a try, with half the ingredients – just curious about the taste.
Have a nice day Nicole!
Caroline, it’s a spiced and fruity rich cake. It’s also known as plum cake in some places. You bake it in early to mid-November and it will still be good at Christmas. Just wrap the cooled caked well in baking paper and then a few layers of foil or similar and place in an airtight container. Good luck!
I use any alcohol that I have lying around, Port and some of the liqueurs too. Sometimes it is a bit of one and a bit of another.. When the fruit won’t absorb anymore, I use the syrup instead of adding treacle or golden syrup (depending on your recipe)
I didn’t know about not using a metal spoon though. (I don’t use wood as that would soak up some of the booze)
Not making a cake this year as
a) I will be away
b) I would only eat it with a slab of cheese to go with it. LOL
Happy cake making.
You can stir the fruit with a metal spoon- just don’t leave it in there! I’ll save some of our cake to share with you when you get home 💕😘
Earlier this month I made 2 log cakes using your lovely Traditional Fruitcake recipe. Gone already! Can’t even say it was a test run because I’ve been using your recipe for several years and know it’s a beautiful cake. Luckily more dried fruit has been purchased for the next round of baking – might hide the finished product this time!
Caroline, I hide my Christmas cake or it doesn’t make it to December 1! But I also make extra because it’s so yummy and a treat we really look forward to at this time of year 😘
Thanks so much Nicole, I am going to get on to that!! xSimone