I have to admit that I dislike Christmas Cake and always opt for a sponge cake, but it’s one tradition that’s always on offer over the festive period.
With so many thinking about starting to bake their fruitcake, I thought it a great time to add some top tips to help you along the way.
I, of course, would love to hear your own tips too.
Feed Your Christmas Cake
Feed your Christmas cake every fortnight for up to 2 months. If you notice your cake is going dark early on and you’re worried about it burning on the top cover it with some foil or baking parchment. If you prefer not to feed your cake with alcohol try using tea instead. – BBC Good Food
Get-ahead for Christmas by making this cake on Stir-up Sunday. It’s the last Sunday before Advent, is the traditional start of the Christmas season, and falls on 23 Nov in 2014. It is thought that the name originated from the collect for the day from the Book of Common Prayer, which begins: ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord…’ and unintentionally reminds churchgoers that it’s time to make the Christmas pudding! – BBC Good Food
Wrap It Up Tight
Once your cake has cooled and has been removed from its tin still in its greaseproof paper, carefully wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap. Make sure this is well sealed, then wrap it is a double layer of foil. Place the cake in a well-sealed container and store in a dark, cool and dry place. – BestRecipies
The traditional coat of almond icing (marzipan) should be put on the cake a week before you want to ice it, to allow its oiliness to dry out. Cover the marzipan surface with a clean tea cloth and store out of the tin or container. The icing is best left to the last few days – in my case often until Christmas Eve. – Delia Online
Let It Mature
“It is essential to make it at least three weeks to a month ahead. If you bake and eat it within a couple of days it all crumbles.
“If it is left to mature, it firms up and has a nice neat slice. We have it with tea when we get back from our traditional Christmas Day walk.
“It is also fantastic with a glass of champagne!”- Mirror
Soak Your Cake
If you haven’t prepared your boozy fruit do it now.
Soak it for at least a week, more if you can. Once you’ve soaked it there may still be excess liquid with the fruit, heat the mixture gently in a pan until the majority of the liquid has gone, then continue with the recipe.
Make sure your tin is deep sided (3″ deep), a shallow tin won’t do the trick here!
Be sure of your oven temperature, a long slow bake is what is called for to stop the cake from drying out too much and baking evenly.
Position your cake on a shelf about 1/3rd of the way up from the base of the oven.
Keep an eye on the baking – start checking your cake for doneness from 2 and a half hours in.
Insert a skewer in the center and it should come out clean when it’s completely cooked through.
When it comes to feeding the baked cake, you can miss this out completely if you would rather, wrap the cake well as described and set aside to mature. The flavors of the cake still intensify and the fruit in the cake will soften and be delicious.
If you would rather you can feed with apple juice or tea for a non-alcoholic cake. If you don’t have a tin big enough to store your cake it will be fine wrapped well with baking paper and foil alone. The Pink Whisk
Choose Fruits That You Love
This recipe is really forgiving, so choose fruits that you love, as the final cake will still be a cracker! Go heavy on the apricots and cherries if you want a lighter, fresher-tasting cake, or go heavy on the figs and prunes if you fancy a rich, darker cake.
Leave enough time to soak your fruits overnight before making and baking – it makes all the difference.
Store your fruitcake wrapped in parchment and then foil – it’ll keep for around six weeks in a clean tin.
Don’t feel you need to feed your cake with alcohol – by pre-soaking the fruit and choosing lighter and more flavorsome fruits, there’s no need to add extra the booze, in my opinion. – Jamie Oliver
Do you like Christmas cake and will you be making your own or buying one? Have you any tips to offer to others?