Food that evokes Christmas: How to make the perfect Christmas Cake
There is always room for dessert, and the Japanese actually have a word for it: Betsubara.
There is always room for dessert, and the Japanese actually have a word for it: Betsubara. And this season, it'll probably be wise to learn it by heart. Because no matter how elaborate Christmas dinner is, there will always, always be room for Christmas cake.
Light or dark, iced or un-iced, square or round … Christmas cakes come in endless variations but a few rules of thumb can take them all from so-so to spectacular.
All-purpose flour, sifted 2 1/2 cups
Brown sugar 1 1/2 cups (powdered)
Baking powder 2 teaspoons
Mixed spices powder 1 teaspoon (1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp Nutmeg)
Salt 3/4 teaspoon
Butter 200 grams
Eggs 5 large
Dry fruits mix (soaked) 600 grams
Caramel Syrup 2 tablespoons
Milk or Sour cream ½ to 3/4 cup
Vanilla essence 1 teaspoon
Pineapple essence 1 teaspoon
Orange zest and juice 1 large orange
Brandy (or rum, or both) 1 cup
- In a large mixing bowl, add the liquor. To this add all the finely chopped dried fruits and peels and give a good mix with a wooden spoon.
- Store it in an air tight glass jar in a dark, cool cabinet.
- Give in a thorough mix every alternate day, till the day of baking. (I use to feed more liquor, if the mix was found dry!)
- Ensure all the ingredients are at room temperature. It is better to keep the butter and eggs needed for the recipe outside the refrigerator for an hour before you begin mixing.
- Sieve together flour, baking powder, salt, the spice powder and set aside.
-Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C.
-Prepare two 8 x 2 round cake pans or two 9 X 5 loaf pans by greasing and flouring /adding parchment to bottom of the pan.
-In a mixing bowl, add the measured softened butter and powdered sugar. Start creaming the butter and sugar mixture with a mixer or a spatula. Continue creaming it until it is soft and fluffy.
-Start adding the eggs, one at a time, and continue with the creaming process.
-Continue until all the eggs have been added. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl in between until all the eggs are totally incorporated and the mixture is very soft and fluffy.
-Add the orange zest, juice, vanilla and pineapple essence and mix well.
-Start adding the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, little at a time (roughly in 4 turns).
-Gently fold the mixture until the flour is fully incorporated with the butter, sugar and eggs. Do not over mix. Instead keep folding gently.
-Finally add the soaked fruits mix and gently fold in to get a uniform mix.
-In case you find the batter is too thick, add 1 tablespoon extra milk at a time and fold the mixture; (you need a thick non-runny batter here). Scrape the bowl one last time to make sure all ingredients are thoroughly blended in.
-Divide batter into pans and bake at 160 C for 60 to 75 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean and dry. Cover the top with baking paper, after 45 minutes baking.
-Remove the cake from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
-Gently tap the bottom of the baking tin. If required, run a knife along the outer edges.
-Unmould the cake from the baking tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
-You can brush coat the cake with the liquor before serving. Slice the cake with a serrated bread knife and enjoy.
Tell us a little about the process of baking a perfect Christmas cake?
The process starts a couple of months before Christmas. I usually mix candied fruit (such as candied peel, tutti-frutti, and dates), and then soak them in liquor (preferably rum), and some spices. Always better to soak this mixture in alcohol for a longer duration (couple of months) so that the fruits sufficiently absorb the alcohol, giving the cake its delicious liquor taste. Christmas cakes are the best part about Christmas.
What are the common mistakes one makes when it comes to Christmas cakes?
: Here's a secret: you can never really go wrong with a Christmas cake! Unlike sponge (genoise) cakes, which are light because of aeration from eggs, Christmas cakes are usually dense and reasonably moist (thanks to the alcohol). Perfect for cold winters!
One basic rule to follow with all Christmas cake while baking
Choose good-quality dried or candied fruits and soak them well, and for lon
How do you decorate Christmas cake?
Christmas cakes are decorated by covering them with a layer of marzipan and an outer layer of fondant. You can further adorn it with some fondant/gumpaste decorations (using cutters or plungers). However, if you do not have a sweet tooth, you can do without the sugary marzipan and fondant layers.