Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ultimate Dried Fruits and Nuts Christmas Cake!

What´s Christmas without cold weather, snowy mountains, decorated streets and houses, the hustle and bustle everywhere, the perfect gift hunting and of course the countless calories one packs from all the delicious season's food!!

I absolutely love how a couple of days before Christmas Eve everything is on speed drive, preparing as much food as you can beforehand and then what took days to prepare disappears in mere hours. Of course food is not what Christmas is all about, but nothing gathers families and loved ones more than good food bringing them together in joy and happiness. Of course, every copious Christmas meal should end with a sweet note and I am not the one to disagree with that!

Some cakes are typically associated with Christmas. In our family we usually prepare the Christmas Log cake (or Yule cake) and serve it at the end of our rather rich Christmas meal. However, this year I wanted to try something different and make a fruit cake that is also famous around Christmas time but not exclusively as it is made during weddings, baptisms and similar events. This cake has everything I love and I expect on Christmas: dried fruits, nuts, spices and alcohol.

I made some research to find the perfect recipe for the perfect Christmas fruit cake, but I eventually had to make some little tweaks and adjustments to suit my taste. I omitted raisins or sultanas, as I am not a big fan  and I replaced them with dried fruits that I preferred. Instead of feeding the cake with brandy, I prepared a spicy brandy syrup that elevated the cake to a whole new level.

Christmas or not this cake is a must try!

Now let´s start baking.
The list of ingredients is quite long, but its mostly ingredients within reach. The amounts listed here are ideal for a small 15 cm (6 inches) pan; adjust the amounts according to your pan. You will need:
  • 120 g soft butter
  • 100 g brown sugar (use muscovada or panela)
  • 150 flour, all purpose
  • 3 medium eggs at room temperature (between 53 to 63 g each)
  • 400 g of mixed dried fruits (I used cranberries, apricots, plums, cherries, blueberries)
  • 120 g mixed nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and almonds) chopped and lightly toasted
  • 55 g candied orange peel
  • 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp mixed spices. I used, cloves, allspice, crushed coriander seeds, star anise and nutmeg.
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • the zest of an orange
  • dash of salt

For the brandy syrup:
  • 80 ml orange juice
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 ml of brandy
  • Mixed spices. I used the same I put in the batter. You will need : 2 cloves, 1 star anise, 2 allspice berries, a small piece of nutmeg, half a cinnamon stick and 2 orange peels and few coriander seeds)
First, chop the dried fruits into small pieces and soak them in 80 ml of brandy and 80 ml of orange juice. This needs to be done one day in advance to allow all of the flavors to marry.

On the next day, mix the flour with the spices, the rest of the dry ingredients, and set aside.

With a spatula or wooden spoon, cream the sugar and butter. Then add all of the eggs along with the orange zest and mix till well incorporated.

Fold in the flour, once well combined add the dried fruits, peels and nuts with any left juice and mix till they are distributed evenly throughout the batter.

Pour the batter in an 15 cm tin, covered with parchment paper. Line the paper so it is higher than the rim of the tin; this helps the top of the cake from drying too quickly in the long baking process.
Bake the cake in a preheated oven (140 C/285 F) for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. After 2 hours insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean then the cake is done. Set it aside to cool.

When completely cooled, cover and place it in airtight container. You can start feeding the cake as of the next day. Feeding means that you prick the cake with a fork or better with a long thin toothpick to create small holes that allow the brandy to soak in the cake. Then you "feed" the cake with brandy by putting some liquor on top and waiting till it is completely absorbed. That's the traditional process, however, I tried something different and created a sweet spicy brandy syrup that adds more flavor than brandy.

To make the syrup, just combine all the ingredients but the brandy and let them simmer on a low heat. Once the sugar is completely dissolved  and the mix is simmering gently add the brandy let it simmer for few seconds and turn off the heat.

With the cooled syrup, I started feeding the cake. I fed it for just 2 days.  Usually the process is repeated over a longer period, but two days are enough for an outstanding result.  Any left over syrup can be served as a drizzle over the piece of cake.

You can make that cake months earlier, if you are able to provide optimal storage conditions. But I wouldn't have the patience to prepare a week or two in advance without sampling it as I don't have a high level of self-restraint when it comes to food!

You can decorate this cake in many ways. Sometimes using just a holy leaf is enough. You can cover it with marzipan and add some decorating elements if you you want to do more. I accompanied the cake with decorated brunsli cookies, a recipe I will share soon.

I will be making this cake soon as it is quite a delicacy. Sure enough it is not the easiest cake out there, it requires lots of ingredients, some planning ahead and quite some time to finish all the needed steps but it is well worth it.

Christmas is right around the corner, gift yourself and your loved ones this scrumptious fruit cake. 


  1. This Christmas cake look so much delicious and nutty nutty.easy to make.perfect for Christmas Party ideas.

  2. wow!this Christmas cake looks so rich with full of flavours....I am going to pin it.

    1. Thank you so much, I appreciate it a lot!

  3. Awesome Christmas cake.Perfect for this Christmas..Lovely presentation.