Christmas. Got to have the ham and definitely must have Christmas Fruit Cake. Love them or hate them, this gung-ho, boozed up, man of a cake embodies all that is Yuletide in each bite of its dry and dense texture. I just don’t feel right without it but heck, everybody has their own unique traditions that makes Christmas for them right? And the richness, the alcoholic content, the preparation and long baking time just isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
So we turn to a kind of ‘shortcut’ Christmas Cake; one that takes almost no time to make and cook and you won’t have to worry about Random Breath Tests or DUIs, just because you had one boozy slice. But, personally, I just love it because I don’t need to buy hundreds of different dried or glacé fruits and nuts for it! And The Captain prefers it as he finds the traditional versions more brick than cake compared to the softness and moist crumb of these ‘shortcut’ mini cakes.
“But the real Christmas cakes will last us more than a year!”, I argued.
“Who wants to eat a cake that’s more than 12 months old?!”, he retorted.
I stand corrected.
Christmas Cake two ways: as mini cakes and as muffins
This cake only needs two or three types of condiments in it. I despise mixed peels and glacé fruits so I always stick to raisins, sultanas and dried dates. Currants, dried figs or cranberries will also work beautifully and as long as you have 2.5 to 3 cups of it, you can pick and choose what you please (I won’t judge if you choose to use mixed and glacé peels!). Bake it in 1 cup capacity muffin tins, mini cake pans or deep ramekins for ultimate simplicity and serve it warm and topped with sugared berries and custard.
It may not have the same extreme richness of the real deal but it’s definitely a good and simple alternative. And who doesn’t love simple around the festive season? So my lovely readers, can you smell Christmas in the air yet?
Mini Christmas Cakes
1.5 C sultanas, raisins or currants
1.5 C dried dates (or you can substitute some or all with dried figs)
200ml of brandy or rum
125g butter, softened
190g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C milk
250g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
Place the sultanas, dried dates and alcohol in a pot and over low heat, simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed and the fruits are nice and plump. Set aside to cool completely.
Preheat oven to 160°C and lightly grease 6 x 250ml capacity cake tins, ramekins or muffin pans.
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale, creamy and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the milk, sift over the flour and baking powder and mix to combine.
Add the cool, brandy-soaked fruits and fold until all incorporated.
Divide amongst the 6 cake tins and bake for 35 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean. If you are using a deeper type of ramekin, then it’ll probably need an extra 5 minutes.
Cool in the tins on wire racks for 10 minutes. Turn them out on the wire rack and serve them warm with custard and sugared berries.
To make sugared berries
1 egg white
fine caster sugar or white decorative sanding sugar
blueberries or raspberries
Lightly beat the egg white and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the berries in it and roll or sprinkle over the sugar to coat. Allow the berries to dry on a wire rack.