For Christmas Cake Recipes, the dried fruit usually needs to be soaked overnight the day before. I don’t soak mine! The easy Christmas Cake is a traditional fruit cake with a rich, velvety texture that is so moist and flavorful that it can be eaten plain. A slosh of custard is never turned away!
Make it on the day, it lasts forever, and it’s delicious whether you use alcohol or not. You can go wild with the decorations or keep them simple.
I’m fussy about Christmas Cake because (speaking frankly) there are too many not-so-great-ones out there. Here’s how I like / don’t like my Christmas Cake:
- With or without alcohol – cake has to be just as good with or without booze (I mostly make it without – so it can be widely shared!);
- Not too much peel or citrus flavour – I’m just not a fan of biting into giant chunks of orange rind. I just like a subtle hint of citrus flavour;
- Soft and velvety is how I like the texture to be when you slice through it – it’s how “good fruit cakes” should be. As opposed to “crumbly” with a muffin-like texture. I make muffins all year round, I don’t want my Christmas Cake like that!
- Moist and fudgy – but still distinctly cake like, now brownie-like. Some cakes I tried out this year were far too dry.
- Quite dense but NOT brick like! Some Christmas Cake recipes are WAY too dense, and you feel like you’re cutting into a block of firm fudge. No thank you!
- Decorating is optional!! The cake should be tasty enough and moist enough to eat plain, without any frosting / fondant or custard.
So if that sounds good to you, then I think you’re really going to love this Christmas Cake!
This fruit cake uses a highly effective FAST fruit soaking method by heating in the microwave then soaking for just 1 hour. Works 100% perfectly!
What goes in Christmas Cake
You need a LOT of dried fruit and very little cake batter ingredients!!
1. SOAKED DRIED FRUIT
Here’s what you need for the Soaked Dried Fruit. The fruit is soaked in either apple juice OR a combination of apple juice and brandy (for those who like boozy Christmas Cake).
- You can use any dried fruit you wish as long as it weighs at least 855g / 30 oz. Although you can use pre chopped dried fruit, chopping your own will yield a more moist cake (pre chopped is not as moist), but have in mind, this cake is very moist so you can use pre chopped!
- Essentially, mixed peel is dried, crystallised (ie sugared) lemon and orange peel. I like to chop it a little finer than it comes pre-chopped. Due to all those times I bit into a huge piece of orange peel, I dislike citrus peel more than some recipes. Just not to my taste! It will be too strong and bitter if you use FRESH orange and lemon peel. I’m not sure how much fresh peel to use.
- If you want to make a traditional boozy Christmas Cake, just switch 1/3 of the apple juice with brandy. Orange juice can be substituted for apple juice if you want a stronger citrus taste.
2. CHRISTMAS CAKE BATTER
Here is what you will need to make the cake batter. Baking powder is not used much in this cake because it is quite dense. Even so, it has a distinctive “cake” texture, unlike some Christmas Cakes that are so dense you’d think you were eating fudge!
- Dark brown sugar – makes the cake a rich dark brown colour. Can sub with normal brown sugar – will make cake lighter (also looks nice as fruit stands out!)
- Molasses / golden syrup – adds to the richness of flavour and colour of cake. Either is fine – I interchange year on year;
- Walnuts – sub with any nuts of choice, or leave it out completely;
- Oil AND butter – oil is what gives this cake a superb moistness. Butter is for flavour!
How to make Christmas Cake
And here’s how the making part goes down.
The key step that makes this so much faster to make than other fruit cakes is the fruit soaking step. Most recipes call for dried fruit to be soaked overnight.
I take a speedy approach: just microwave the dried fruit with juice and/or brandy, then stand for 1 hour to soak up the liquid. So much faster – and just as effective!
There’s nothing unusual about how this fruit cake is made, other than that.
A dense cake like this needs to be baked long and slow in order to cook all the way through without drying out the edges and surface (without using water baths). Bake for about 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Christmas Cake Decoration ideas
Plain Christmas Cake does look like a big, dark brown block, so it’s nice to decorate it! The following ideas are only suggestions – but remember, it’s only for decoration. Fruit cake is full of flavor and extremely moist, so unlike other cakes, you don’t need to add a frosting to make it taste amazing!
- Dust with icing sugar or pile on cherries or other fruit and dust with icing sugar;
- Decorations for Christmas trees – yes, really. Non-edible decorations are fine!
- Use this recipe for Drippy White Glaze instead of the lemon in the glaze in this Lemon Cake with Drippy Glaze. Flip the cake upside down for a perfectly level surface;
- Traditional white fondant (pictured above) – I know some people don’t like fondant. I have had several bad experiences with wedding cakes! But nowadays, store bought fondant is actually far superior to what it used to be. It just tastes like a thin layer of plain sweet frosting. See below the recipe card for a step by step visual of how to apply the white fondant on your Christmas Cake.
The cake in the photos is the 2nd time in my life I’ve used fondant. So if I can do it, you can do it too!
How to serve Christmas Cake
This Christmas Fruit Cake is rich and damp, with a huge load of flavor from the natural product so it’s totally delish eaten plain. No icing, no fondant – not much – and it’s positively how I pick away at the extras for quite a long time!
However, to make it unique, serve it with custard. Homemade custard, if possible. Yet, in the event that you decide on locally acquired, do my little pimping up stunt – simply mix in some vanilla bean glue. The little dark spots gives it somewhat “additional uncommon” look and it does marvels to clean up the flavor as well!
Also finally, you’ll be exceptionally glad to know this saves for quite a long time! 90 days in the cooler, a year in the cooler.
Will yours last that long??! –Nagi x
PS How did I get right down to here without letting you know where all my Christmas plans live??
Right here -> Christmas Recipes