Easy Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe, beautifully moist and rich, this festive fruit cake is everything you can ask for: rum-soaked mixed dried fruit added to dark smooth batter with an orange touch. The rum icing contrasts beautifully with the sponge for added sweetness and colour. A lot quicker than the traditional Christmas fruit cake versions, this recipe is a must-try over the festive season.
My very first Christmas fruit cake, and I can't have enough of it. I have always been put off by the idea of a cake that was taking hours to bake, and the fruit that had to be soaked in alcohol for days before you even attempted the bake. That's not what I like to bake.
So, my Christmas cake is a quick and easy version of the classic Christmas cake recipe: no days before/overnight fruit soaking, and it's out of the oven in one and a half hours. That's a lot more reasonable, isn't it? Christmas time is busy as it is, without having to worry about having the oven busy for half of day or so.
It can be baked in advance though, it will keep wonderfully moist without any problem. And the icing will still look as beautiful, so you can enjoy the most scrumptious fruit cake on the big day.
As for the dried fruit used, no need to go for lots of separate packets of dried fruit which can end up being quite expensive, the mixed dried fruit and peeling packets are all you need. Let's see how to make it!
- mixed dried fruit -sultanas, raisins, currants, cranberries, candied orange and lemon peeling
- butter -soft but not melted
- dark brown sugar
- eggs - at room temperature
- baking powder
- plain flour
- orange extract
- mixed spice - or pumpkin pie spices
- ground almonds
With everything I cook and bake, I try to make it as easy as possibly, without compromising on taste. And what I love the most about the homemade goodies is that there is always a choice of ingredients that can be used. And make it budget-friendly too.
I opted for a bag of mixed dried fruit that had sultanas, currants, raisins, candied orange and lemon peel, and added dried cranberries from a separate bag. But you can add other dried fruit too, with dates and apricots being particularly nice.
The orange extract can be swapped for orange juice and zest, or lemon juice and zest, or even lime. Or omitted, the rum does brings quite a lot of flavour anyway.
I used dark brow sugar, but muscovado sugar is another great addition - I absolutely love its colour and the fantastic taste it adds to any bake.
Step-by-step photos and instructions
First, start by soaking the fruit in alcohol - I chose rum, for its sharpness, rum usually goes beautifully in baking, for you can go for any brandy, sherry, whisky, etc
- in a pan set over a low heat, add the dried fruit and peeling, pour the brandy over, and cover the pan with the lid
- leave to simmer for 10 minutes so that the fruit can soak up the alcohol
- remove form the heat, and leave the lid on for a further 5 minutes
- to make the sponge, beat together the brown sugar with butter until you get a smooth thick paste
- add the eggs one by one, eating well after each addition to avoid the mixture curding
- add the ground almonds, mixed spice, baking powder and orange extract
- in goes the flour and soaked fruit
- mix well to ensure the fruit are well distributed, and transfer the mixture to a round cake tin that is greased and floured
- bake in the preheated oven at 120 degrees Celsius (248 Fahrenheit) for one hour, then increase the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius (300 Fahrenheit) and bake for a further 30 minutes until light brown and firm to touch
How to decorate the fruit cake for Christmas
If you were to ask me, this cake is sheer perfection the way it is: sweet, but not overly sweet, with a good hint of booze coming from the soaked fruit, and a lovely light sponge.
Decorating it does make it more christmassy though, so I could always go with it. If the traditional way involves using fondant and marzipan for a festive touch, my fruit cake uses only a rum-flavoured icing. It's a lot more delicious, and it does the job amazingly well, no need for that much sweetness.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar, add the rum and milk, and mix to get a smooth thin paste that will be spread over the cake. The dripping actually makes the cake even more impressive than covered it all over, but do go for the style you like the best.
I added some christmassy sprinkles for the wow factor too, and you can go for any other decorations you like - I also had some dried orange slices which are lovely, and the shops usually have some pretty cake toppers at this time of the year too.
This cake might looks complicated and time consuming, but it's actually very easy to make with simple ingredients. The cake does not need refrigerating, and it can last for many days at room temperature.
Other fruit cake recipes
It's such a beautiful festive cake, it's hard to resist not having one too many slices. For a non-alcoholic version, not as christmassy, but equally delicious, why not try my Walnut and Date Cake?
Or, if you want a way quicker version of this delicious Christmas cake, how about my Mini Christmas Cakes? They can be made in a muffin tin, and they are absolutely delicious!
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Easy Christmas Cake Recipe
For the sponge
- 600 g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants, cranberries, candied orange and lemon peeling)
- 150 ml rum
- 125 g butter (soft)
- 125 g dark brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 125 g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 50 g ground almonds
For the icing
- 300 g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon rum
- 2 tablespoon milk
- Add the dried fruit and rum to a pan set over a low to medium heat.
- Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the fruit soaks up the rum.
- Remove from the heat, and leave the lid on for a further 5 minutes.
- Beat the sugar with the butter until you get a thick paste.
- Add the eggs one by one beating well after each addition to avoid the mixture curding.
- Add the baking powder, mixed spice, ground almonds and orange extract, and mix.
- Sift in the flour and soaked fruit, and mix to get a thicker batter.
- Grease and flour a round cake tin (23 cm/9 inches) - ideally a tin with removable walls.
- Spread the mixture evenly.
- Bake in the preheated oven at 120 degrees Celsius (248 Fahrenheit) for one hour, then increase the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius (300 Fahrenheit) for a further 30 minutes until light brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Leave to cool completely.
- To make the icing, sift the icing sugar, add the rum and milk, and mix well to get a smooth thin mixture.
- When the cake is cool, spread the icing over, and decorate with sprinkles, cake toppers, dried orange slices or any other decorations of your choice.
- Click on the US Customary link to see the measurements displayed in cups and ounces.
- The servings can be adjusted by clicking the number next to Servings.
- This cake might looks complicated and time consuming, but it's actually very easy to make with simple ingredients. The cake does not need refrigerating, and it can last for many days at room temperature.