Traditional rich fruitcake is such a joy at Christmas time. Dense with brandy-soaked fruit and spices, this means a little goes a long way! This one of mine has the addition of sour dried cherries, macadamias and orange, for a modern twist.
- 200 g pitted prunes
- 200 g seedless raisins
- 120 g sour dried cherries
- 200 g sultanas
- 200 g currants
- 110 g (⅓ cup) cherry jam
- 1 orange, zest finely grated, juiced
- 125 ml (½ cup), brandy or orange liqueur, plus 60 ml (¼ cup) extra
- 185 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 110 g (½ cup, firmly packed) muscavodo sugar (see Baker’s tips)
- 1½ tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 200 g raw unsalted macadamias, halved
- 225 g (1½ cup) plain flour
- 50 g (½ cup) hazelnut or almond meal
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 200 g raw unsalted macadamias, coarsely chopped, to sprinkle
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time overnight
Cooling time overnight
Chop the prunes, raisins and cherries to the same size as sultanas. Put in a large bowl with the sultanas, currants, jam, brandy and orange zest and juice. Cover and set aside at room temperature at least overnight (see Baker’s tip).
Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20 cm square or 22 cm round cake tin. Prepare the tin for cooking a rich fruitcake (see Baker's tip below).
Use an electric mixer to beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition (the mixture will appear curdled). Use a wooden spoon to stir in the soaked fruit and macadamias.
Whisk together the flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder and spices to combine evenly. Add to the fruit mixture and use the wooden spoon and then your hands to mix lightly until well combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press firmly into the corners and then smooth the surface (see Baker’s tip). Decorate with extra nuts. Put the tin on the magazine on the tray and cover the cake with a piece of foil. Bake in preheated oven for 2 hours. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 1½-2 hours or until just cooked when tested with a skewer.
Pour the extra brandy evenly over the top of the hot cake. Trim any overhanging paper, cover the tin well with foil and then wrap the cake, still in the tin, in 2 tea towels. Cool overnight.
• Muscavado sugar is a brown sugar with a high molasses content. You can use dark brown sugar in its place.
• You can soak the fruit for up to 2 weeks, stirring occasionally.
• Before preheating your oven, position the oven rack so that the middle of the cake tin will be in the centre of the oven.
• Before decorating with the extra macadamias and baking your cake, drop the tin on the bench 4-5 times to make sure the mixture fills the corners and gets rid of any unwanted air pockets.
• This cake is also delicious served with vanilla ice-cream as dessert.
• This cake will keep wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks. If you don’t use the nuts, it will last for up to 3 months.
• You can also make this mixture into 5 individual cakes – the perfect gift size. Grease and line the base and sides of 10 cm round or square cake tins (no need to wrap them in newspaper) and bake for 1 hour covered with foil and then a further 45 minutes without the foil or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Lining a cake tin for a rich fruit cake
This method was shown to me many years ago by CWA and agricultural show judge Norma Allen. It is far quicker than using multiple layers of brown paper and will effectively protect your cake during the long, slow baking. It will stop the outside from over-browning before the centre of the cake is cooked.
- Grease your cake tin and line the base and sides with non-stick paper, allowing the paper lining the sides to reach about 5 cm above the top of the tin. Lay 4 sheets of newspaper on top of one another. Fold the paper lengthwise into thirds (you will end up with a strip with 12 layers of paper). Repeat with another 4 sheets of newspaper.
- Wrap one of the newspaper strips around the outside of the tin and tie with kitchen string to secure. Wrap the remaining newspaper strip around the tin to cover the exposed side and tie in place to completely surround the tin with newspaper.
- Place an old magazine on a baking tray and sit the lined tin on top ready for baking.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Cakes for crowds.