Christmas Fruit Cake is a traditional bake for the festive season in the UK. This step by step recipe makes it an easy bake even if you have little experience.
I make my cake at the end of October and have it wrapped up and maturing until it is iced a couple of weeks before Christmas.
I was sent a copy of What to Bake and How to Bake it by Jane Hornby to review so I decided to make Jane’s Festive Fruit Cake.
About the Author
Jane Hornby is an experienced food writer, baking expert and cookery teacher.
She has spent many years working on bestselling food magazines where she has honed her clear, friendly, step-by-step style, and her passion for real home cooking.
The book begins with a comprehensive chapter full of techniques, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Simple Family Baking contains recipes such as Golden Citrus Drizzle Cake, Peanut Butter Cookies, Favourite Swiss Roll, Lemon, and Raisin Pancakes, Rocky Road and Classic Crusty Bread.
Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea, just imagine a tiered cake stand loaded with Classic Shortbread, Jaffa Marble Loaf, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Lemon Glazed Ginger Cake and Seriously Chcolately Cookies.
Special Bakes contains even more delicious celebration bakes. The Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake looks pretty special and the Coconut Layer Cake is really pretty with its toasted coconut chip decoration.
Angel Cake with berries and Pumpkin Pie are classic US celebration cakes and almost everyone loves Frosted Cupcakes.
The Festive Fruit cake comes into this chapter (recipe below) as does another winter feast bake, Cranberry Stollen.
Desserts and After Dinner is the final chapter. The Flourless Chocolate Cake is a decadently rich and gooey dessert. I’m definitely going to try the Tart au Citron, it’s one of my favourites.
Another citrus favourite is Whole Orange and Almond Cake, the instructions look incredibly easy.
Want to master choux pastry? Jane provides the perfect step by step Chocolate Profiterole recipe. Pastry is also de-mystified in the recipe for One-Crust Apple and Blackberry Pie.
Macarons, biscotti and Salted Caramel Shortbread bites complete this indulgent chapter.
Index of bakes by occasion
There is a really useful index of bakes by occasion, for example, Bake-sale bestsellers and Mother’s Day. There is a standard index as well, so you can easily find your favourites.
Who is it for?
You would think this is a book for beginners, the step-by-step photos and instructions certainly make it ideal for a beginning baker.
However, although I have many years of baking experience, I probably made the best fruit cake I have ever made using the Festive Fruit Cake recipe. So if you want to improve your baking, this book is t is well worth buying.
The Christmas Fruit Cake (Festive Fruit Cake) recipe in the book also includes instructions for how to marzipan and ice your cake.
It’s a beautiful book and would make a great gift. The photographs are clear without too much styling to get in the way of what you need to do.
The illustrations at the start of each chapter are so delightful you could frame them and hang them on your wall.
The written instructions are very detailed and neatly laid out down the side of the photos. I found that the recipes really work.
There are an awful lot of baking books on the market, and I seem to own quite a few of them.
Many of the bakes in What to Bake and How to Bake it are standards such as Victoria Sponge, Swiss Roll, Shortbread and Brownies which will feature in other books you own,
It is the detailed step-by-step format which makes this book different.
It’s a beautiful book, with well-written recipes. I’m not sure I could resist if I didn’t already have a copy.
What to Bake and How to Bake It by Jane Hornby
Photographs by Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton
Illustrations by Kerry Lemon
Published by Phaidon
How to make Christmas Fruit Cake
Bring the dried fruit, cherries and mixed citrus peel lemon juice, zest and brandy or rum to a simmer, then leave to soak overnight.
If you don’t want to use alcohol, use one of the alternatives suggested in the recipe.
When you are ready to make your cake, put on the oven at 160C (140C Fan/Gas 3)
Cream together the softened butter and sugar. You can do this with a wooden spoon but, if you have a stand mixer, it makes it much easier to do.
Add the eggs one at a time beating to ensure they are mixed with the creamed butter and sugar. If the mixture curdles (goes lumpy) beat in a tablespoon of flour.
Add the flour, spice, and salt to the mixture and gently fold it in with a spatula or metal spoon.
Stir in the dried fruit mixture until it is well combined.
Put the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.
Test the cake by inserting a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean and not sticky the cake is baked.
Leave the Christmas Fruit Cake in the tin and prick holes all over then spoon in more of the brandy, rum or alternatives into the cake.
Let the cake cool completely before removing from the tin. Warp in baking parchment. I also overwrap the baking parchment with foil.
Store in a cool dry place until you are ready to cover with marzipan and decorate it. This is a simple decoration I made using cookie cutters for gingerbread mean.
More Christmas Cake Recipes at Farmersgirl Kitchen
Homemade Marzipan Stollen is a delicious semi-sweet bread studded with dried fruits and nuts and filled with marzipan. It is a traditional Christmas holiday bread from Germany and this festive loaf has a long and interesting history and it is simple to make.
Other Christmas Cake Recipes
Fig and Mincemeat Christmas Bundt Cake – Tin & Thyme
Amaretto Christmas Cake – Something Sweet, Something Savoury
Gluten-Free Christmas Cake – Gluterama
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Christmas Fruit Cake
- 1 lemon
- 100 g glace cherries drained
- 600 g dried mixed fruit such as raisins, sultanas or currants
- 100 g candied mixed citrus peel
- 120 ml brandy or dark rum
- 225 g soft butter plus extra for greasing
- 225 g light brown soft sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 225 g plain flour
- 2 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1/4 salt
- 50 g toasted flaked almonds
- Finely grate the zest from the lemon and squeeze the juice. Cut the cherries in half. Put them into a large saucepan with the dried fruit and peel and 100 ml of the alcohol.
- Cover, then bring it to a simmer. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for at least an hour, or overnight if you can. The fruit will plump up and absorb the liquid.
- When ready to make the cake, preheat the oven to 160C (140C fan/gas 3). Double-line a deep 20cm round cake tin with baking parchment. To do this, fold a 65 x 30 cm piece of parchment in half lengthways. On the folded side, make a fold about 2 cm of the way in. Snip at 2 cm intervals along the length of the seam, up to the fold, a make a frill. Cut 2 circles for the base.
- Grease the tin with butter, then line the sides with the frilled paper, with the frills at the base of the tin, overlapping slightly. Grease the circles with butter, then sit them on top trapping the frill below. This preparation is needed to protect the cake during the long baking time.
- Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl, then beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla, then beat in 1 egg. When the mixture is fluffy and light, add the next egg and repeat.
- If the batter starts to look a little lumpy, beat in 1 tablespoon on the flour. Repeat with the remaining eggs. This is one creaming-method cake that can't be sped up; don't try to make it using the all-in-one method.
- Sift in the flour, spice and salt into the bowl and fold into the batter with a spatula or large metal spoon. Now fold in the soaked fruit, plus the nuts. It will make a stiff batter.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and level the top. Make a depression in the middle of the batter with the spatula. This will help the cake rise more evenly.
- Bake for 1 1/2 hours, then turn the oven down to 150C (130C fan/Gas 2) for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours more. When ready, the cake will be dark golden and a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean. If not bake for another 15 minutes and check again.
- Leaver to cool in its tin on a rack. When still warm, prick holes all over it with a cocktail stick and spoon in the rest of the alcohol, tea or juice. Once cool, remove from the tin then wrap carefully in clean baking parchment and store in an airtight container in a cool place.
If you'd rather not use alcohol, strong black tea makes a good substitute, as does orange or apple juice. Alcohol is added to act as a flavouring as well as to preserve the cake until Christmas. Any dried fruit can be substituted, although I'd recommend a balance of sweet and tart fruit for a more interspersing end result.