Ok, I’m going to confess that the term ‘last-minute’ here is not because I put specific effort into inventing some sort of supersonic way to make Christmas cake at the nth hour or to make procrastination look cool. It’s just that if, like me, you found yourself unable to get to the oven for whatever reason, this is the kind of boozy, fruity, dense, spiced wonderland you can actually have ready in two days, not two months.
The fruits are cooked in beer and whiskey (I know!) till they are reduced into jammy, squishy submission, which means there’s a ton of flavour already sitting inside them, so you can skip the days, weeks, months of soaking that is otherwise encouraged. In fact, I think this cake beats the one I made earlier by a very, very long margin (insert collective purist gasp here). I didn’t do any more ‘feeding’ than a few spoonfuls of rum last night as the cake cooled, and before I cut it this morning. The fruits, once cooked, should be chilled overnight, but in a pinch, you can skip even that. Just wait till they come to room temperature before adding them to the batter.
Which basically means, if you’re in Mumbai and can get yourself to Crawford Market today, you will have a cake ready by tomorrow afternoon and it can be sliced Christmas morning because it needs at least a night for the flavours to intensify. And since this is just as delicious as some of the best Christmas cakes I’ve had, I don’t know why it took me this long to ask my Mom to flip through her recipe book and send me a scribble.
The cake is cooked the traditional low and slow way. For reasons I haven’t understood, mine developed a crack so I absolutely recommend at least an 8″ cake tin, if not 9″, so that the batter has room to spread and rise, since it’s so huge and dense with all that fruit. Also make sure your oven stays at 150 C (mine has been overheating everything in the center) and be prepared for a 2.5 to 3 hour baking time at the very least.
It is dense, and dark, and spiced and citrusy and fruity all at once. Everything you want in a good Christmas cake, just in time for Christmas, even if you start two days before Christmas. This concludes the pre-25th sugar fest here on The Desserted Girl but since I don’t consider the holiday season over till I feel the need to kick off the covers at night, next week will be just as fun 😀 Happy baking and I hope you guys have the loveliest Christmas weekend!
- For the fruit
- 400 gms mixed peel
- 50 gms glace cherries
- 200 gms cranberries
- 50 gms raisins
- 1 cup beer, any kind
- ½ cup whiskey, any kind
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 tbsps honey
- For the cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp ginger powder
- ½ tsp nutmeg powder
- ¼ tsp clove powder
- ¾ butter, room temperature (200 gms)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 5 eggs
- First, prepare the fruit. In a food processor, blitz the peel and cherries tilI they are chopped small. Add to a a large, deep saucepan with all the other ingredients for the fruit.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring often. Set aside to cool completely at room temperature, then preferably transfer to an airtight tin and chill overnight.
- When ready to bake, grease an 8" or 9" springform tin, then line with three layers of baking paper*. Preheat the oven to 150 C.
- Sift the flour, spices and baking powder in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar till fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour mixture till combined.
- Add the cooked and cooled fruit and mix well. The batter will be thick. Spoon into the prepared tin, smoothening the top.
- Bake for 1 hour, then cover the top with foil and bake for about 2 hours more, until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. The batter is dense and heavy and so has more baking powder than normal, so some cracking might take place, especially if your oven has hot spots like mine does. It's all good.
- Let the cake cool completely at room temperature, then poke holes in the top with a toothpick or broader instrument, and drizzle spoonfuls of rum, brandy or whiskey over the holes. Allow to soak, then remove the cake from the tin, keeping the baking paper intact, cover completely in foil and let it rest overnight.
- Slice on Christmas morning and have a very merry time 🙂
*You can add about ½ cup of any nuts to the batter.
*To line the cake tin, I pressed down three large rectangular sheets of baking paper into it, placing one vertically, then one horizontally, then one vertically again so that the sides are well-covered and there is enough of an overhang. If you have the time, and want to avoid the batter seeping into the folds between the sheets, cut out three round pieces of paper to line the bottom, then three long strips, pressing them firmly against the sides.
*Prep-time does not include overnight chilling or cake cooling time.