Share the love this season with a full-flavoured Christmas fruitcake. Best enjoyed warm with friends and family, this dessert is traditional and classic.
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Bake for 3 hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and brush the top of the cake with the remaining rum. Cover pan tightly with foil and invert cake, still in the pan, onto a clean work surface. Set aside overnight to cool completely. Serve with icing sugar.
COOK. STORE. SAVE.
Clever storage: Your completed fruitcake can be wrapped and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Use It up: Use any leftover fruitcake to make bread and butter pudding. Why not try replacing the hot cross buns in this recipe?
Fruitcake is synonymous with Christmas – the dark-coloured, spiced cake filled with plumped dried fruit and nuts is rich, boozy and sweet, making it the perfect festive season treat. It was the Romans who made the first version of it for their soldiers, though it was morphed to resemble the cake we know today during the medieval times in England. At one point around the 18th century, the cake was only allowed by law to be served at Christmas and other special occasions, which is how this cake became related to the holiday. In this particular recipe, the cake includes crushed pineapple and dark rum, bringing tropical notes to reflect the hot summer Christmas we celebrate in Australia.
This cake is dense and rich with a sharp sweetness from the crushed pineapple, which helps to offset the heavier flavours and brightens the dark rum. Other fruit options for fruitcake include figs, prunes, cherries, dates, peaches, raisins, apricots, crystallised lemon and orange peel. Don’t have almonds and walnuts? Try pistachios, macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans or cashews. You could also give your cake another flavour twist by swapping out dark rum for brandy, bourbon, orange liqueur, whisky, amaretto or cherry brandy. To get even more creative, you could add dark chocolate, grated apple or crystallised ginger.
While the addition of alcohol is traditional for Christmas fruitcakes, and it certainly helps keep the cake moist, there are a few points to consider to make sure your efforts in whipping up this festive favourite aren't wasted.
First, you need to feed your Christmas cake by brushing on alcohol every 2 weeks so that the mixture is soaked in the spirit and deepens its flavours. This method also helps if you intend to store the fruitcake for a longer period (3 months or more). Tightly wrap the cake in plastic wrap and foil after each feed and transfer it to an airtight container and place it in a dark, dry and cool place. You might need to put it in the fridge if your kitchen is too hot or humid. It’s important to use the same type of alcohol you used in the cake batter. If your cake starts to appear soggy all over, allow it to stand, unwrapped, at room temperature for 24 hours. Do not continue to feed it.
Homemade fruitcake done right, like in this recipe, brings charm to the festive season. Why not make it a part of your Christmas traditions and whip up this gorgeous cake as a gift? For other holiday sweet treats you can give to your nearest and dearest, try these recipes for lemon poppy seed shortbread fingers, choc-peppermint slice and Maria’s rocky road bundt.
If your cake is too dry when you take it out of the oven, wrap it immediately with a cheesecloth that you have soaked in alcohol and wrung out. The cheesecloth should drape over the top of the cake while it is still in the cake pan. Allow the cake to cool completely with the cheesecloth sealing the steam in.
To prevent your fruit and nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake, take a bit of the flour that you’ve measured out for the recipe and use this to coat the fruit and nuts in flour.
This traditional cake is delicious on its own, or with a little butter or a slice of cheese. You can enjoy it cold, room temperature, warmed up or toasted. You could also serve a slice by crumbling it over custard or vanilla ice cream. If you’re planning to give this classic dessert as a gift, soak a cheesecloth in alcohol, wring the cloth out, wrap the cake in the cheesecloth and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark and dry place for 1-2 weeks beforehand.
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