Christmas Fruit Cake – Have you soaked your fruits yet?
By: Shakira Thomas
Who is baking this Christmas? I know all the yearly bakers already have their containers of mixed fruits soaking and ready for the biggest baking time of the year. Good stuff!
If you didn’t know, soaking your mixed fruits in advance before baking your Christmas fruit cake is the key to that moist, rich and tasty texture. The flour, sugar and other ingredients are just props; it’s really the fruits and nuts that are the star of this delight.
Can you remember that time you had the best Christmas cake ever and the first bite brought happy tears to your eyes? You remember thinking that there must be a secret ingredient in this Christmas fruitcake? Well I’m here to tell you that the secret is fruit soaking in advance. When you soak the mixed fruits it gives you that rich, moist texture with bursting flavors.
There are different timelines you can choose to soak your mixed fruits, I will inform you of the different ways but the rule of thumb is the longer you soak the fruits the better the taste. It’s like the wine aging concept the older the wine the better the taste, well it’s the same for soaking your mixed fruits, the longer you soak your mixed fruits in alcohol the better the taste of your Christmas fruit cake. Yearly bakers start to soak their mixed fruits the beginning of the year and bake first week in December and feed the cakes with alcohol once a week up to Christmas. Some say the traditional way is to soak fruits three months before Christmas that would be first/second week of September and then bake approximately five weeks before Christmas. The easiest timeline is to soaking your mixed fruits overnight just three-four weeks before Christmas, bake the next day and brush alcohol once a week until Christmas. This is probably the best option for busy moms on the go. The key here is to give your fruits adequate time to marinate in alcohol to get that rich, scrumptious taste you want.
If you are planning on baking this year for the first time, have no fear we will be your guide to the process. We have the same recipe and method that ‘Grandma’ and ‘Aunt Mae’ used when you were a child, so you’re in good hands. To start the baking process right, I want you to first get rid of the fear that baking a Christmas fruit cake is hard. It’s really easy; once you have good directions (we got you!) and all the ingredients the process is effortless.
This week we will start with the simplest step in the process, and that is to soak your mixed fruits.
Items you will need:
Glazed cherry – 100g
Apricot – 120g
Date – 180g
Prune – 100g
Cranberry – 100g
Fig – 50g
Black current – 150g
Raisin – 100g
Sultana – 150g
Almond – 50g
Walnut – 50g
Cashew – 50g
Brandy: 700ml (sherry, whisky or dark rum)
Orange zest of 1 large orange
Large glass bowl with lid or large glass jar with air-tight lid
Spatula/Wooden serving spoon
Direction made simple:
- Chop all the fruits and nuts in bite size pieces. It will increase the total amount of fruits present in your cake. This will ensure that fruits and nuts are in every bite of your cake.
- Place the chopped fruits and nuts in the clean and dry containers (as listed above) and pour the brandy (or alcohol of your choice) over the fruits. Make sure fruits are completely covered with the liquid.
- Stir gently with the wooden spoon and cover with the lid. The glass container should be air tight.
- Place the container in a dry and dark place, may be in your kitchen cupboard.
- Stir (or shake) the fruit mix with a wooden spatula/spoon on each day or at least on alternate day until the baking day.
How easy was that?!
It’s best to use a glass container, as alcohol could have a reaction to other types of material.
Depending on the sizes of the fruits, cut is quarters and halves. The bigger pieces of fruits cut in quarters, and the smaller cut in halves.
Look out for the follow-up article on this topic – closer to baking time. I will give you the list of items, best brands you need to shop for your cake; in the meantime get those fruits soaking.
Shakira Thomas is the creator and founder of Caribbeanchick.com. The official internet destination for Caribbean women worldwide.
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