Did you know that the of eating fruitcake around the holidays stemmed from Great Britain?
The traditional Christmas dessert isn’t at all similar to the candied peel and citron cakes you might think of when “fruitcake” is mentioned. Called Christmas cake or plum cake in Great Britain, the dessert dates to Roman times!
The rich fruit and nut cake is ‘fed’ with brandy or whiskey - a few spoonfuls at a time, every few days for weeks. The most important thing to note with traditional British Christmas cake is that the longer it sits in the tin and is ‘fed’ brandy over a course of these weeks, the better it is. Traditionally, you’d make this cake at least two months before Christmas, for it to mature with the ‘feeding’ of brandy. Making it later is fine as well, it simply won’t store as long as the ‘aged’ one.
Helpful hints before you start:
- It’s actually an easy process if you weigh out or measure each of the ingredients ahead of time, then it only requires a basic assembly of sorts.
- Soaking the nuts and fruit in some brandy the night before you start will help make this cake nice and moist.
- Sultanas and raisins are different, and you should most definitely use both. Raisins are dried white Moscatel grapes. Whereas sultanas are still dried white grapes, however, come from seedless varieties. Sultanas are golden in color and are known in the states as Golden Raisins.
- If you have the time, take it with this cake. Again, the longer it sits the better. As well, this cake requires icing ahead of time, as far ahead as you can do it. If you don’t have the time, buying a ready-made marzipan or fondant can be just as fun.