I have never baked a Christmas fruit cake or pudding before. When I saw this recipe, Moist and Boozy Fruitcake at Martha Stewart website, I thought that this seems to be an exciting cake to bake and would love to make these as little gifts for my friends and colleagues.
Like most fruit cakes, these cakes are expensive and time-consuming to bake. Just the premium dried fruits and the mid-range port itself had cost me more than AUD$40. Plus more than 3 hours of slow-baking... I was crossing my fingers very badly, hoping that this costly and time-consuming cake recipe will work well for me.
As I was afraid that I might over-bake these cakes, I had check them regularly while they were baking. To my surprise, in regardless of the sizes and thickness of the cakes, they actually took the same amount of baking time (3 1/2 hours) for the cake tester inserted to come out clean! When the cakes were cooled, I was excited and tasted a slice... Then, spat out a chewy bit! I was totally shocked to find the cake a little too tough to chew. At this disappointment moment, I was in state of asking myself: "What I have done wrong?"...
Fortunately, nothing is wrong. As I was about to throw away these cakes, part of my gut feeling told me not to do it. After a week of allowing my cakes to stand in the fridge, the cakes revived! Originally, all fruitcakes should stand in room temperature from 3 days up to a few months but I was afraid that the warming Melbourne weather might damage the cakes and decided to stand mine in the fridge. And, it is true that the longer the fruitcakes stand, the better the flavours and texture develop. These pudding-like Christmas cakes are indeed moist and boozy to enjoy. Unlike most fruitcakes, these cake taste more like Christmas puddings to me and have a compact and dense texture. My best part of this bake is to enjoy the fruity and boozy fragrance of these cakes while wrapping them into little presents... They smell really good!
I didn't forget my boy when I made these boozy cakes. For him, I have adapted the recipe to make a kiddy non-boozy version. The non-boozy ones are just as good as the boozy ones, minus the boozy, of course. LOL!
|My moist and boozy fruitcake|
|The fruits and the booze|
|Mixing the fruit and booze...|
|Making the cake|
|Baking the cake|
|Can't eat the cake now... We have to wait!|
|Making the non-boozy ones for my boy|
|A moist fruitcake with pudding-like texture|
|All wrapped up to give away!|
(with my modification and notes in blue)
Yield Makes two 9-inch loaf cakes and two 8-inch round cakes
1 pound pitted prunes (2 1/4 cups)
1 pound dark raisins (2 3/4 cups)
1 pound dried currants (3 1/2 cups)
(replaced with same amount of raisins)
1 pound dried cherries (3 1/3 cups)
(replaced with dried cranberries)
3 ounces candied citrus peel, orange and lemon (1/2 cup)
3 ounces candied ginger (1/2 cup) (I didn't add this)
1 (750 mL) bottle dark rum, plus more for brushing cakes
(replaced with port but used rum for brushing)
1 (750 mL) bottle ruby port or Manischewitz wine
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
4 ounces blanched almonds (2/3 cup)
(I used almond meal)
1/3 cup boiling water
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
(I used Dutch processed)
2 1/2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
(I used dark muscovado sugar)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
10 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup molasses or cane sugar
(I used molasses)
Confectioners' sugar or royal icing, for serving
Note: I have used only half the amount of this recipe to two 20 cm x 20 cm square cakes.
At least 2 weeks before you plan to bake the cakes, place prunes, raisins, currants, cherries, citrus peel, candied ginger, rum, and port in a large container with a lid. Stir fruit once a day.
Note: I did this only 1 week before. I've soaked all my dried fruits with 750ml of port and stored it in my fridge. The Australian port that I used, Yaldara Fine Old Tawny is a mild-range one with rich fruity flavours and a nice warming finish.
When ready to bake the cakes, preheat oven to 250°F (or 125°C fan forced). Butter and flour two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans and two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans and line with parchment; butter parchment and set aside.
Note: For thinner cakes, I've prepared two 20 cm square cake pans for half amount of this recipe.
In the bowl of a food processor or the jar of a heavy-duty blender, grind almonds to a coarse meal (I skipped this step because I used almond meal). Stir ground almonds into the fruit mixture until well combined. Working in batches, transfer almond-fruit mixture to the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender and pulse until a chunky paste forms. Transfer paste to a large bowl or a rimmed baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add vanilla, and beat in eggs, one at a time. Transfer to a very large bowl or stock pot.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. Using a spatula, fold flour mixture into butter mixture. Add cocoa powder mixture and molasses and fold to combine; stir in fruit.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake until cakes are firm on top and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 3 hrs. Remove from oven and immediately brush tops of cakes with rum. Let cakes cool completely. (I baked all my cakes for 3 and 1/2 hrs)
Invert cooled cakes to unmold and brush with additional rum. Wrap cakes in cheesecloth, a clean dish towel, or sturdy paper towels, and then in aluminum foil. Let stand at room temperature at least 3 days before serving, and up to 1 month. Serve cakes dusted with confectioners' sugar or frosted with royal icing.
Note: My cakes stand in the fridge for more than a week before serving.
My adapted kiddy non boozy fruitcake:
60g dried cranberries
175ml orange juice
15g almond meal
10ml boiling water
3g Dutch cocoa powder
45g dark muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp molasses
I've baked the non boozy fruitcake using two 10 cm round cake pans. The dried fruits were soaked in orange juice overnight in fridge. The cakes were baked at 125°C fan forced for 3 1/2 hrs too. I've let the cake stand in the fridge for more than a week before serving.
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