Some people have a hard and fast rule that Christmas can’t be mentioned until 1st December… but the order books are now open for my Christmas treats and there are plenty of people who are getting ready for the season already. If you are one of them you can see my Christmas treats here.
You may have even made your Christmas cake already.
Often English fruitcakes are typically made up to three months before they are required, so some people are already thinking about Christmas time in September!
This blog post is all about Christmas cakes… I have had a few people ask me when I start making my Christmas cake and what fruitcake recipe I use.
Traditionally English Christmas cake is in fact fruitcake which is made a few months in advance of 25th of December and it is “fed’ with alcohol or a liquid of choice throughout the three-months. This ensures a moist cake that doesn’t crumble when cut. Dried fruits, brown sugar and spices as well as any alcohol used, give the cake a rich texture and taste.
What you will find is that a lot of recipes these days mean that the three month rule does not have to be adhered to and boiling the fruits in a mixture of spices, flavourings and small amount of alcohol means you can still create a really tasty fruit cake in the weeks leading up to Christmas. So breathes a sigh of relief for many of us that feel too busy to think about Christmas in the months before the day!
You may not make a fruitcake at all; in Poland people celebrate with Makowiec, a flat or sometimes rolled cake layered with poppy seed-based paste. Tres leches cake is another favourite for many people and in Germany Black Forest cake is a firm favourite at Christmas. Maybe your family have their own traditions at Christmas, there are no hard and fast rules and surely a cake of any sort is something special to be enjoyed.
My fruitcake of choice has to be a traditional Caribbean fruitcake or ‘black cake’ so called because of its very dark colour which is achieved by adding caramelised sugar. With this cake the dried fruits are minced and marinated for several months in a vat of rum, fortified wine, spices and flavourings. Topping up as and when needed. The cake can then be made a couple of weeks before it’s needed and is fed with more alcohol once made. Very rich, moist and boozy! Just how I like it!
Once you have decided what type of cake you want to make, then it is on to the decorating.
If you are going down the fruitcake route, remember, decorated fruitcakes are usually covered with a layer of marzipan first and then roll out icing or royal icing is applied on top of this. If making a traditional cake, I even get my kids involved and get them to help decorate! Why not try this yourself and get your little ones involved? I encourage use of snowflake cutters with roll out icing and ribbons and silver balls too.
One thing I really like about fruitcake is that due to the fact that dried fruits have been used and large amounts of alcohol fruitcakes can last up to three months at room temp if wrapped correctly and up to a year in the freezer! Talk about convenient…
So whether you have got to work on yours already, save cake making for December or even choose to buy a shop bought cake – I hope it is delicious!