This easy Christmas cake recipe is full of festive fruits, zesty orange peel and hints of vanilla and chocolate. With a slightly lower fruit to cake ratio than usual and with a couple of my secret ingredients this cake will easily take centre stage this Christmas. Whats more, it only takes half an hour to make the cake mixture, theres no need for a food processor or mixer and the fruit can be soaked for just 15 minutes rather than overnight. See above for addition instructions on lining a cake tin and icing and decorating a Christmas cake.
Add the dried mixed fruit to a large mixing bowl and pour over the spiced rum, and the juice and zest of two oranges. Cover and leave to soak overnight. If you don't have time to leave overnight then transfer to a large pan and heat to a very gentle simmer for 3-4 minutes. Then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile add the butter, muscovado sugar and black treacle (if using) to a small pan. Heat gently and stir until melted. Set to one side.
In a second large mixing bowl add the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, mixed spice and bicarb of soda. Mix together well.
Next pour the melted butter, sugar and treacle into the flour mixture and stir together well.
Next, whisk the eggs together and gradually add to the mixture. Don't add too much in one go as the mixture may split. Stir well in between each addition.
Once all the egg is combined, stir in the soaked fruits.
Transfer the cake mixture to your lined tin (either one 8 inch tin or two 6 inch tins). To bake, place in the centre of a preheated oven (150°C/300°F); the 6 inch cakes for 1hr 50 minutes and the 8 inch cake for 2hrs 10 minutes. Check your cake 15 minutes before the end of these baking times by inserting a skewer into the centre, If the skewer comes out clean then its done. If not, return to the oven and check every 10 minutes until the skewer comes out clean.
Place the Christmas cake, still in the tin, on a wire rack to cool. Whilst cooling skewer all over and drizzle over 2 tablespoons of spiced rum (or your preferred spirit). After half an hour or so, carefully remove from the tin and leave on the wire rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, wrap the cake in cling film and store in a tin. Unwrap once a week and spoon over (feed) 2 tablespoon of spiced rum (or your preferred alcohol).
Secret ingredients: To really boost the flavour of this recipe I like to add two special ingredients. Cocoa powder and black treacle. Only a small amount of each is required to give a deep, chocolatey flavour, perfect for balancing out the fruit and rum. Both are optional but its important to note that if you decide not to add these, the treacle can just be left out but the cocoa powder must be replaced with the same amount of plain flour. In short - this recipe will work just the same with or without the treacle but cocoa must be replaced.How do you feed fruit cake? Skewer the baked fruit cake all over. Be careful to only skewer ¾ of the way down the fruitcake and not right to the bottom. The use a tablespoon to carefully drizzle spoonfuls of spiced rum (or your referred spirit) over and into the skewered holes.How often should I feed my cake? This depends on how much time you have until Christmas and how boozy you want your cake. If you make your cake at the start of November or earlier you can feed it with 2 tablespoon alcohol once a week. If you make the fruit cake just before Christmas then feed every day or every other day until iced.How do you keep fruit cake moist? Soaking fruit overnight before starting this recipe ensures that the fruits are packed full of liquid. This means that the fruit won't suck any extra moisture out of the cake during and after baking. Feeding your Christmas cake regularly after baking will also help to keep it moist as well as building up the flavour.How long does this cake last? Christmas cake is one of those recipe that was designed to last a long time. Fruit cake is so dense and full of alcohol that it will keep itself well preserved for a good 3 months. And in fact the longer you leave it the better it gets, which is why you'll find some people baking their Christmas cake in October.You should however, store the Christmas cake well during this time. Wrap in at least 2 layers of cling film or foil and then place in a cake tin with lid. The icing however is a different story and is better left until the week before Christmas. This also means your can continue to feed your cake (see above) right up until a few days before Christmas.Can you freeze fruit cake? As Christmas cake keeps well for so long there is really no need to freeze it. The dense cake filled with fruit and alcohol will self preserve for at least 3 months. Just keep it well wrapped.