Tuesday 8th December 2015
Everyone has a different Christmas cake preference: light or dark; moist and crumbly; sticky and sweet; bready or cakey. Some have even been known to enjoy a slice of fruitcake with a wedge of Stilton, in part because a really fruity cake is not dissimilar to a sweet chutney. Though advice is conflicting, if you have a boozy Christmas cake planned, it’s not uncommon to make the cake as early as twelve weeks in advance of Christmas to allow ‘maturing’. However, fruitcakes can still be extremely tasty if they are made much closer to the big day. We’ve selected our top 5 fruit-based cake recipes for you to experiment with and enjoy.
This spicy marzipan-smothered traditional fruitcake can be served on its own or with royal or fondant icing decoration. Because there is no alcohol in the mixture it can be made fairly close to the date you want to tuck into it, but the fruit preserves well and the marzipan coating will keep the cake moist and delicious if stored properly. The thin layer of apricot jam helps the white marzipan to adhere to the cake smoothly. Do be sure to knead the marzipan for a while to create the perfect rolling consistency and finish.
Chocolate and fruit has always been a heavenly match, so this chocolate fruitcake is certain to make your seasonal feast even more of a celebration. Deep, dark and rich, the cake contains rum, which deepens the flavour and is also a good preservative, making it a good cake to make in advance. Choose the best ingredients you can afford, so free-range eggs, fair-trade cocoa and chocolate, and good quality vanilla extract for the perfect mixture.
This tropical fruitcake is your standard fruitcake recipe, but with the addition of delicious dried mango, papaya, pineapple and ginger. The golden rum, caster sugar and cinnamon add to its beautiful amber colouring. The cake is yielding and versatile and will appeal to most palates. Serve a slice with port or a nice cup of tea on a cold winter’s afternoon.
Stollen is the traditional German Christmas bake of choice. The addition of little cranberry jewels into this mixture permits another layer of flavour as well as seasonal colour. The marzipan in the cakey, bready centre creates delicate moisture, so all that’s needed to decorate the cake is a snowy dusting of icing sugar. Serve with a heartening glass of mulled wine – or Glühwein, literally meaning ‘glow wine’, as the Germans have it.
The Bundt cake is so named because of the distinctive ring-shaped pan it is baked in. The recipe hails from North America but was originally inspired by the European brioche-like Gugelhopf cake. A Nordic cookware manufacturer trademarked the ‘Bundt’ name, which is thought to mean ‘bunch’ or ‘bundle’; so called because of the manner in which the dough is traditionally bundled into the pan. The ingredients are simple, so this cake is all about making the dough workable and arranging it into the pan in the desired manner. Once more it is the addition of marzipan that makes this a typically Chrismassy treat.
Christmas cakes make wonderful festive centerpieces and lovely gifts. If you make the right type of cake for the right person you can really make their Christmas. Why not browse our other seasonal recipes for inspired baking and decorating ideas?