It’s Christmas already!! How are your plans for the vacation coming up?? If you haven’t thought about it yet, then let’s put on our baker’s hat and start right away!!! Indulge your family & friends with this flavor packed, Fruity n Nutty, Sweet n Moist Cake…!! A Non-Alcoholic Christmas Fruit Cake…
Hello December…! Well, we are into the last month of the year and I’m already in a vacation mood. This whole month is going to be busy for me with shopping, vacation, visiting family, and of course Christmas recipes …!! This being my first Christmas since I’ve opened my blog, I have been planning over a month to finalize all my recipes, researching through some authentic Christmas dishes and even got some great ideas from my friends on dishes served at their homes in a pure traditional style. So stay tuned to Pepper Delight, Delicious lip-smacking recipes are on their way!
Going back to my beautiful memories of Christmas, I have a lot to cherish… especially about Cakes. This is the time of the year where plum cakes start filling the racks of every bakery in my hometown. I love Plum Cakes but my brother wasn’t fond of it. And like any other responsible sister, I had to share everything with him (which of course I didn’t like to, hehe), but when it comes to plum cakes I didn’t have to as he didn’t like it anyways and I get to have it whole, Waah! And the funny fact; to add to his misery, all our friends & family who visit us gift plum cakes only. What more do you need to piss him off, my poor little brother!!
Fruit cakes are made with dry fruits or chopped /candied fruits, soaked in an alcoholic liquid with nuts and spices. The significant part of the preparation is the soaking of the fruits, the longer the tastier. The sweetness of the fruits, sourness from the liquid, the crunchiness of the nuts, and the flavours of the all spice, makes it a well-balanced Christmas cake.
Another aspect of this recipe which I like is the variety and the options available for the ingredients of this cake. For all my non-alcoholic readers, in today’s recipe I have substituted the alcohol with orange juice. At first look, soaking fruits in orange juice and then adding more to the cake batter might seem a bit scary and a sweetness overload, but the nuts add the needed crunchiness & balance the sweetness.
I highly recommend you to read the tips section below to find out the variations in dry fruits and nuts, and also the notes section for critical points to be considered while baking a fruit cake.
A few tips:
- Dry Fruits varieties: Raisins/Sultanas, apricots, dates (seedless), prunes, currants, figs, tutti fruit, glazed cherries, dried unsweetened cranberries.
- Nuts: Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts.
- Soaking liquid (alcoholic): Rum, Brandy, Amarula, Baileys Irish Coffee.
- Soaking liquid (non-alcoholic): 100% grape juice, apple juice, orange juice, or water.
- Spices: Ground all spice; ½ tsp cinnamon powder+ ¼ tsp cloves
Thank You Beena Aunty for all your valuable tips for this recipe.
Enjoy baking, Merry Christmas…!!!
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Prep time: 30 mins; Baking time: 1 hr 35 mins
For soaked dry fruits
- 1 cup raisins
- ½ cup apricots
- ½ cup dates (seedless)
- 1½ cup orange juice or more
For caramel syrup
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp + 4 tbsp water
- 1½ cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground all spice
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (softened at room temperature)
- 1¾ cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs (at room temperature)
- Juice of one orange
- 1 orange zest
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup cashews
Preparation of fruits
- Chop dry fruits into bite size pieces. Place them into a dry glass container along with the soaking liquid. Ensure that the fruits are completely immersed in the soaking liquid.
- For soaking instructions and other tips, refer the notes section below.
Preparation of caramel syrup
- Add the sugar and 1 tbsp water into a pan and heat on a medium flame.
- As the sugar melts and starts turning golden brown, lower the flame and keep stirring till it turns a bit darker and thicker.
- Now add the remaining 4 tbsp of water, switch of the flame and keep stirring till the syrup cools down.
Preparation of cake
- Prepare the dry ingredients by sifting flour, baking powder, all spice and salt in a bowl. Keep aside.
- Drain the soaked dry fruits in to a separate bowl and add 3-4 tbsp of the above prepared dry mixture. Mix to flour coat the fruits, this helps preventing them from sinking to the bottom of the cake while baking.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Line parchment paper on the bottom of a nonstick spring form pan and also along the sides extending 2 inches above the rim of the pan. Butter the paper throughout and set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter on high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Add brown sugar and beat until light and mixed well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, which helps to mix it evenly.
- Add eggs one at a time followed by grated orange zest, and mix.
- Meanwhile prepare the caramel syrup as instructed above, and add the cooled syrup to the cake batter and mix.
- Add the dry ingredients alternating with orange juice, and mix till blended well.
- Now fold in the flour coated dry fruits, and nuts (slivered almonds and cashews) into the batter. Optionally you can reserve some nuts to garnish later.
- Pour the batter carefully into the prepared pan and garnish on top with nuts (optional). Bake for 1 hour and 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with little or no moist crumbs.
- If the cake looks to be sticky, bake for another 5 minutes and repeat the skewer test. Once done, remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool.
- Gently run a knife around the edges of the pan and then unlock it. Move the cake to a wire rack keeping the lined parchment paper intact and let it cool completely.
- Once cooled you can remove the paper, and the cake is now ready to be served.
- To store, you can wrap the cake in an aluminum foil and keep in an air tight container at room temperature for a week. Refrigerate thereafter.
- Soak dry fruits in either an alcohol or a non-alcoholic liquid to enhance the flavour. I recommend soaking for at least 24 hrs but you may do so for days or even weeks. The more it soaks, the better it tastes.
- The fruits to be soaked should be chopped into bite sized pieces. Use a clean air tight glass container to soak the fruits. Stirring it periodically or at least once a day helps it to rehydrate and not to dry out.
- After draining the soaked dry fruits, coat them in a few spoons of the dry flour mixture. This helps the fruits to stick on to the batter preventing it from setting down to the bottom of the pan while baking.
- While adding orange juice into the batter you might notice that it begins to curdle. This is absolutely fine and it happens due to the citrus nature of the orange.
- After removing the baked cake from the pan, allow it sit on a wire rack to cool down at room temperature. Do not remove the parchment paper from the pan when the cake is hot, it might crumble.
- Wrapping the cake in an aluminum foil helps it to retain moisture and prevent drying out.
- You can keep the cake in an air tight container at room temperature for a week. Refrigerate thereafter.