Make Ahead Christmas Cake

make ahead christmas cake

Make Ahead Christmas Cake; a rich, traditional fruitcake filled with warming spice and booze. Make this any time of year, and let it mature until the big day!

Now, calm down. I can hear you tutting and muttering “It’s only November!” Hear me out, Grinches.

If John Lewis can start Christmas on the 10th of November, then so can I.

make ahead christmas cake

Most baked goods are best eaten on the day they are made, however some benefit from a day or two of maturing; banana bread, carrot cake and even little French macarons spring to mind. However some things benefit from weeks or even months of maturing and developing once baked, this Make Ahead Christmas Cake is one of them!

As fresh fruit and even regular sugar wasn’t really available in the Winter time all those years ago when these cakes and puddings were first made, dried fruits were the best way of sweetening and flavouring the festive dessert. The fruit as well as the added alcohol acted as a means of preserving the cake until it was needed, with the added benefit of boosting the dark, sticky flavours.

make ahead christmas cake

In modern times, fluffy cakes, creamy cheesecakes and fancy shop bought meringue desserts might be more popular on the Christmas dinner table. However, sometimes it’s nice to honour the local traditions of this old holiday and bake up a right old-fashioned treat. Added bonus: your Granny will probably love it.

Traditionally, Christmas cakes or puddings are stirred up and baked on “Stir Up Sunday,” which falls on the last Sunday of November each year. This allows the cakes/puddings to develop their flavours and become the lovely, rich, classic desserts that we think of at Christmas time here in the UK. This recipe allows you to bake up this Make Ahead Christmas Cake at any point in the year, and mature it until you need it! I made mine in the first week of October, and I’m doing well so far at resisting the urge to slice it up and scoff it!

make ahead christmas cake

Naturally, I took the recipe inspiration for this cake from Queen of Christmas, Delia Smith. You can buy her Christmas book, full of timeless festive recipes, below:

Products from Amazon.co.uk

Equally in my nature, I made it my own, and adjusted it to a slightly more modern taste!

Rich, dark and sweet, laced with festive spices and orange zest. This cake is dense – like traditional fruit cakes – making it perfect for eating plain, warmed with custard or cream, or even slicing up and nibbling spread with butter and strong cheddar cheese!

If you fancy making this Make Ahead Christmas Cake, I recommend baking it at least a week before you plan to eat it. Also, feel free to wrap it in the traditional marzipan or fondant icing too. I can’t stand the stuff so I leave it bare, with just a few toasted nuts to decorate. If in doubt, get naked, right?

make ahead christmas cake

To make this lovely old cake, begin by pouring all your dried fruits into a large bowl and pouring over some strong alcohol. Brandy is the traditional booze used, but I just love the taste of spiced rum (plus, it’s cheaper!) so I chose that instead. Try not to use anything too strong though, like vodka, as it won’t be very tasty!

make ahead christmas cake

Stir well to coat all the fruit in the alcohol. Leave to soak for at least 30 minutes.

make ahead christmas cake

Preheat your oven and grease a loose-based or springform cake tin and place a circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom.

In another large bowl, measure in all the remaining cake ingredients apart from the nuts.

Using an electric whisk, stand mixer or just a good old wooden spoon, beat all the ingredients together until smooth and combined.

make ahead christmas cake

Tip half of your soaked fruit mixture into the bowl of cake mix and stir to incorporate. Add the remaining fruit and stir again.

make ahead christmas cake

make ahead christmas cake

Pour the fruity cake mixture into your prepared tin.

Cut 2 squares of tin foil that will be large enough to wrap around the tin from the bottom.

Sit the cake tin on top of the foil squares and wrap it around the sides. This just helps the sides from browning too much in the long bake!

Finally, place a sheet of greaseproof paper or tin foil, with a little circle cut from the centre, over the top of the cake tin too, making sure it does not touch the actual cake mix underneath. Again, this just adds as extra protection for the cake to keep it moist and evenly baked.

make ahead christmas cake

Bake in the preheated oven for 4 hours until springy to touch. Mine took exactly this amount of time, but baking time can take as much as an extra 45 minutes, so keep an eye on it after the 4 hour mark!

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 1 hour before removing it and allowing it to cool completely on a wire rack.

make ahead christmas cake

Once cold, poke holes into the top of your cake, and spoon 3 tablespoons of your chosen alcohol over it. This will soak in nicely.

At this stage, you can eat the cake straightaway or keep it to mature until Christmas time.

This Make Ahead Christmas Cake will keep for up to 1 year. To do this: wrap it tightly in clingfilm/plastic wrap/tin foil, and pop it in an airtight container. To feed it: poke a few more holes in the top or bottom of the cake and pour over 2 tablespoons of your chosen alcohol every 1-2 weeks.

make ahead christmas cake

Enjoy!

If you need to stock up on any ingredients or equipment to make this lovely Make Ahead Christmas Cake, simply click on any of the images below:

Thanks as always for stopping by, see ya later!

Make Ahead Christmas Cake

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 10-20 slices

Make Ahead Christmas Cake

Make Ahead Christmas Cake; a rich, traditional fruitcake filled with warming spice and booze. Make this any time of year, and let it mature until the big day!

Ingredients

  • 850g (5 ½ cups) mixed dried fruits (I used raisins, currants, mixed peel, cranberries and chopped dates)
  • 100ml (scant ½ cup) brandy or spiced rum (plus extra for feeding later on)
  • 225g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150g (¾ cup) dark brown soft sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g (15 tbsp) spreadable butter
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Almonds or pecans to decorate (if not covering in icing)

Instructions

  1. Pour all your dried fruits into a large bowl and pour over your chosen alcohol.
  2. Stir well to coat all the fruit. Leave to soak for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 140 C / 130 C fan / 275 F / gas mark 1.
  4. Grease a 20-25cm loose-based or springform cake tin and place a circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom.
  5. In another large bowl, measure in all the remaining cake ingredients apart from the nuts.
  6. Using an electric whisk, stand mixer or just a good old wooden spoon, beat all the ingredients together until smooth and combined.
  7. Tip half of your soaked fruit mixture into the bowl of cake mix and stir to incorporate.
  8. Add the remaining fruit and stir again.
  9. Pour the fruity cake mixture into your prepared tin.
  10. Cut 2 squares of tin foil that will be large enough to wrap around the tin from the bottom.
  11. Sit the cake tin on top of the foil squares and wrap it around the sides. This just helps the sides from browning too much in the long bake!
  12. Finally, place a sheet of greaseproof paper or tin foil, with a little circle cut from the centre, over the top of the cake tin too, making sure it does not touch the actual cake mix underneath. Again, this just adds as extra protection for the cake to keep it moist and evenly baked.
  13. Bake in the preheated oven for 4 hours until springy to touch. Mine took exactly this amount of time, but baking time can take as much as an extra 45 minutes, so keep an eye on it after the 4 hour mark!
  14. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 1 hour before removing it and allowing it to cool completely on a wire rack.
  15. Once cold, poke holes into the top of your cake, and spoon 3 tablespoons of your chosen alcohol over it. This will soak in nicely.
  16. At this stage, you can eat the cake straightaway or keep it to mature until Christmas time.
  17. This Make Ahead Christmas Cake will keep for up to 1 year. To do this: wrap it tightly in clingfilm/plastic wrap/tin foil, and pop it in an airtight container. To feed it: poke a few more holes in the top or bottom of the cake and pour over 2 tablespoons of your chosen alcohol every 1-2 weeks.
  18. Enjoy!

MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Simply replace the flour with a gluten free flour blend!

MAKE IT ALCOHOL FREE: Simply replace the alcohol with brewed black or red bush tea, and feed it the same way. Note, this may not keep as well as the alcohol-filled version!

http://maverickbaking.com/make-ahead-christmas-cake/

 

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