Since Christmas is around the corner, there are a lot of things you would want to do for your family and loved ones. From placing stockings on the fireplace to decorating the tree and enjoying all the delicious treats, Christmas certainly has a vibe that one cannot neglect.
Since the festivities are to celebrate the birthday of one of the most influential personalities on the face of the world, Jesus Christ, Christmas cakes are quite common. There are decorative cream and chocolate cakes, puddings and then there is the classic Christmas cake.
A scrumptious treat filled with sweet jewels, dry fruits, fruit juices, and oh the ever-desirable, rum is on the top of the list for many households. Just like Christmas, the cake also does not come out easily. There are a lot of things that go into it and everything primarily begins by soaking the dry fruits until they are ready to be used.
The traditional recipe comes with almonds but over the year, people have started to make it an even divine treat by adding different dry fruits like cashews in it.
Why We Need To Soak Fruits?
Christmas cake came from the early 16th or late 15th century. Those were the times when people loved rich flavors and good alcohol was something that was available for the rich and the poor. They loved sweet things and this Christmas cake was indeed a scrumptious treat for everyone.
The idea was to make a rich, moist cake with plump fruits and flavors. We all know that when dry fruits are soaked, the flavor of alcohol is infused in them and they become much more plump and flavorful.
Best Time to Soak the Fruits
These are endless ways to soak the fruits for your cake, but each of them requires time and patience. If you want, you can pick a timeline of your choice. Just make sure that you have added all the desired dry fruits in your saturnalia nut of the month club.
Here are a few ways to practice:
Feb to March
Perhaps the earliest many people start is by soaking their fruits in spring from February to March. The dry fruits are soaked to soften and so they can soak the most flavors. In this scenario, many people bake the cake in the earlier weeks of November and keep it moist by continuously dripping it with alcohol. Now, this is a very rumtastic cake!
This is the most popular method of soaking the dry fruits and other fruits for your Christmas cake. You can use any kinds of dried fruits that you like. Soak them in September, bake the cake in the last week of November, and keep it moist by adding alcohol in regular intervals. In this lockdown, you can actually buy cashews online for your amazing Christmas cake and give it a depth of flavor that was unknown to the people of the Middle Ages.
Last Week of November
Many people who don’t have enough time on their hands like to use the last week of November and soak their fruits. This is then baked one week ahead of Christmas. Just make sure that the alcohol is only added once heavily. While this might save you a lot of time, your fruits will not be soaked that well.
While alcohol is the first priority for many people to soak their Christmas fruits, there are people who do not like consuming alcohol in any way. If you are one of those people, there is no issue at all. All you have to do is to soak your fruits almost 15 days before Christmas in an airtight jar, use the refrigerator so that the juices don’t go bad. Popular non-alcoholic choices are:
- Orange Juice
- Tea (Dark)
Best Choices for a Christmas cake
The vibe of Christmas cake is to incorporate all kinds of dried fruits and use flour and butter as a binding medium. Some of the best options to add to your Christmas cake are:
- Dried orange peels
- Raisins, Currants, and Sultanas
- Dried Apricots
- Almonds, walnuts, and cashews (you can also buy cashews online)Seedless dates
You might be wondering why fresh fruits can’t be used. Well, they will replace the texture of your cake by turning it soggy. And also, who counts calories on Christmas. Just go completely nuts with calorie-rich dry fruits.
Preparation for Christmas cake
Slicing Dry Fruits
Make sure that the fruits are sliced small – everything except the dates. Dates break down during the baking process so if you cut them small, it is possible that you might not be able to see them. Apart from dates, keep everything at a size of 1 cm.
When you are slicing the fruit, you are allowing more portion of the cake to be filled with these goodies. This is also easier to eat and much more flavorful.
Density of Cake
If you are using richer dry fruits like figs and dates, then the density of your cake will be rich and heavy. Using only dry fruits and colored jewels like dried apricots will produce a lighter cake.
Quantity of Dry Fruits
Any kind of dry fruit that you are planning to use in your recipe should complement the amount of flour and butter that you are using. Overloading the cake can actually break it. Similarly using too much citrus can also make the cake quite bitter and unpleasant.
Soaking Mediums for Your Cake
There are two soaking mediums that you can use for your Christmas cake:
- Alcoholic Mediums
- Non-Alcoholic Mediums
The most preferred alcohol to use for this purpose is dark rum. You can use wine but it does not provide you with the richness that rum is capable of providing.
Instead of going for mugs, cups, or precise quantity measure, simply add all your dried fruits and nuts in a jar and fill it with rum so that all the fruits are covered. Generally, this is just one-half of the dry fruits that you are using.
If you have kids and people who don’t like alcohol in your house, you are free to use different non-alcoholic mediums to soak your Christmas nuts and fruits. Just separate everything that you want as a part of your Christmas nut of the month club and use citrus fruit juice like oranges to soak the fruits. Avoid using grapefruit or lemon because this might make the cake a bit too tart.
With Christmas right around the corner, you still have time to get your cake ready for the family. Many people like to take their time by soaking the nuts and the fruits so that they get extremely plump and flavorful.
If you love alcohol in your cake and want to entertain a family so they all have a good time, go for something like rum to flavor the cake. Other than that there are different non-alcoholic mediums as well that can be used to flavor cake for the little ones.
Instead of opting for just almonds and basic nuts, you can introduce different types of nuts and dried fruits to the cake and make it your very own Christmas wonderland.