Soak your dried fruits for the X’mas cake!

It’s Christmas (X’mas) season and one of the traditions along with singing Christmas carol, putting up the Christmas tree, lighting up the house, baking gingerbread cookies or making gingerbread houses….. is baking the Christmas cake/fruit cake. …(more about the cake below).Dried fruits soaked

My fondest memory of X’mas is decorating  the tree and house with ornaments and lights. My mom would bake atleast 3-4 huge X’mas cakes… one or two for us and guests that visit on X’mas day, one that she divides among the non-christian neighbour friends and then one to give to the church –  Women who were good at baking were asked to get cakes, which were cut into slices and distributed to all the Church attendees when they exited the church after the midnight X’mas mass (even today cake is given). As kids, we would keep going in and out of the church so that we could try different versions of cake….and every year, me and my brothers would conclude that my mother’s cake was the best. Soft, moist, right amount of fruits….amazing!!!

Come November, all the Christian women especially at churches, are talking about X’mas cakes – how many are they going to bake, when will they soak the fruits, and of course exchange of recipes is a must!!

This is the 1st time I’m going to bake a X’mas cake and I hope it turns half as good as what my mother makes. Also, I hope to carry this tradition each n every year so that my children can look back in time and say exactly what we siblings feel about my mom’s cake…. perfect!!! But the problem is my mom hasn’t baked in years because she says our home is an empty nest with the kids away and now when 2 of her kids (we are 3 siblings)are nearby, her health isn’t in her favor of standing and baking for long….infact, even the smell of melting butter isn’t good for her.

Traditionally, Christmas cake is made using dried fruits that’s been soaked in alcohol for months or even upto a year. The cake is baked couple of weeks ahead of X’mas, afterwhich, you “feed” the cake with the same alcohol that was used for soaking. Feeding the cake ensures the cake taste much better as they age or mature. It is done by making small holes on the top of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of brandy. This is done only once a week and should not exceed more than 3-4 times in total. Else, the cake will be tooo moist and will crumble.

But nowadays due to lack of time people do it slightly differently.  One way is to soak the fruits months in advance and then bake it only a week ahead of X’mas. Feed the cake once, wrap it in clingwrap/kitchen towel that’s been brushed with alcohol, cover it in 2 layers of foil, keep it in an airtight tin and store in a dark place.They say the taste is not affected much because the fruits were soaked for months. But yea, it won’t be that moist and soft. The other way is to soak the fruits overnight, but then in that case, the cake is baked atleast a month, ideally 6 weeks ahead. The cake is then fed with alcohol once a week, wrapped in clingwrap/kitchen towel that’s been brushed with alcohol, covered in 2 layers of foil and kept in an airtight tin and stored in a dark place. Every week the cake is fed, the clingwrap/towel is brushed with more alcohol and wrapped.

Personally, I’d go for option 2 because that method ensures the whole cake matures well, the fruits absorb the alcohol pretty much and the cake is nice and soft.

Anyway, if you haven’t soaked your fruits, it’s still not late. Soak it today, so that the fruits get atleast 2 weeks for it to absorb all the alcohol. Mine have been soaking in since 2 weeks already because I soaked it in the 3rd week of November. Delayed post I know, but with 2 kids it was really difficult for me to post this sooner.

Here’s what you need to bake 2 fruit cakes that’s filled with nuts and dried fruits with barely enough cake batter to hold it all together. 🙂 As always you can halve the recipe if you want just one fully loaded cake or want two not so loaded cake.

Dried fruits

Ingredients for Soaking of fruits – I don’t exactly have a break down per se

  1. Dried Fruits – 1 kg i.e about 6 cups
    • Black Raisins/Sultanas – 250 grams (I used Nectaflor brand and cut the raisins into halves/quarters depending on its size)
    • Cashewnuts – 200 grams (chopped into small pieces)
    • Dried Mixed Fruits – 375 grams (1 Whitworths box that contains sultanas, raisins, currants, Orange and Lemon Candied peel – and again cut these into smaller pieces)
    • Watermelon and Orange Cubes -200 grams (Aptsienne brand – the red and orange fruit cubes that’s normally put in ordinary fruit cakes)
    • Dried plums – 8-10 plums, chopped (not shown in the pic as it was added later on)
  2. Brandy/Rum/Whiskey – 700 ml bottle i.e. 3 cups (half of the quantity of fruits)


Do this atleast 2 weeks in advance for better results.

  • chop up all your dried fruits, if they are not that small.
  • Pour the brandy or other preferred choice of alcohol into it. Mix.
  • Transfer to a container with a tight lid and keep it in dark place.
  • Shake the contents atleast every alternate day till you’re ready to bake the cake.

Dried fruits soaked1

General notes

  • the quantity mentioned is for baking 2 cakes loaded with lots of fruits.
  • If the fruits are big pieces, it’s ideal to chop them into smaller pieces….this increases the amount of fruits in your batter and when you eat the cake it tastes better when you bite into small pieces than one big raisin.
  • You could increase or decrease the quantity of dried fruits
  • You could even add other types of dried fruits like dried peaches, apricots, prunes, pecan nuts, almonds, walnuts…..

Notes on Soaking the fruits

  • Soak the fruits in alcohol (preferably brandy) atleast 2 weeks in advance.
  • Mix or stir the fruits in the alcohol atleast once in 2 days.
  • Within a day of soaking the fruits you’ll notice the alcohol doesn’t cover the fruits completely now. That’s because the fruits have absorbed the alcohol and there’s no need to add more. Just keep mixing it occasionally so that the uncovered fruits don’t dry up.
  • See that the jar you use for soaking the fruits is free of any water and has a tight lid.
  • Store it in the Kitchen cupboard where there’s no direct sunlight.

The cake recipe will be uploaded sooon 🙂

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21 Responses to Soak your dried fruits for the X’mas cake!

  1. biny anoop says:

    hey renee thx dear for the tip

  2. Biny says:

    hi r u…here all r fine and i expect the same at ur end….wen is ur next post…i know ur busy with junior aaron

  3. Indrani Barua says:

    Thanks a lot. Very helpful – I was desperate to know how long the fruits can be soaked and its quite informative to know even for one long year. Whoa ! Any way a little more help since I never made cake earlier and it seems I am late would you please advise me how long to soak my cut fruits which would be ready by Saturday and when to give for baking before Christmas ? PLEA……..SE.

    • Renée says:

      Indrani – I’m glad I was of some assistance to you. Soak the fruits as soon as possible b’cos you still get about 10 days. And as for baking, bake it atleast 1 day before you plan to serve the cake. These cakes need some resting time of atleast a day, so that the flavors can be absorbed. If you’re going to bake it 2-3 days in advance, then daily brush a little alcohol on top of the cake so that it doesn’t get spoilt. You cld bake in advance for 2 weeks even, but brush alcohol daily.

      • Indrani Barua says:

        Thanks Renee for your reply – I still have a few more queries :

        I am making 1 kg cake – The fruits are around 3.5 kgs. How much Rum (McDowell’s No.1 Matured XXX 750 ml) is needed to soak – should I soak it with full one bottle in big bowl and then after the cake is baked 2 days in advance do I need another bottle (same or some other alcohol like brandy, whisky will do) to feed the cake once daily.

        How many spoons in one pound cake for brushing / feeding ?

        I am not clear ” will get spoilt -” Is it necessary to feed the cake with alcohol after it is baked. Bit scared : ) !

        Would be grateful for your reply.

      • Renée says:

        Indrani, I’m so sorry I didn’t reply to your query earlier. Somehow I didn’t get a notification earlier. Maybe my response will help you for the next Christmas :).
        for the soaking of fruits – put all ur fruits in a container and pour enough alcohol to cover the fruits. After a day you’ll see the alcohol content has obviously reduced b’cos the fruits have soaked it up. No need to add more alcohol. But Do not forget to give the container a good shake daily or if you’re using a spoon, make sure there’s no water at all on the spoon. But shake or mix daily.
        For the brushing/feeding – once you’ve taken your fruits out for baking, obviously there’ll be some alcohol remaining in the container, you could use that itself for feeding the cake. There’s no exact amount on how many spoons, b’cos obviously it’ll depend on the size of your cake. If you’re doing a circle cake it’ll need lesser amount of alcohol than if ur doing a large rectangle cake. But the idea is just to brush all over the cake just once daily.
        Will get spoilt – like any cake, if its kept outside for long it’ll start to stale b’cos it has eggs in it. So brushing or feeding the cake prevents it from getting spoilt as well as keeps it moist.
        Hope your doubts have been cleared.

      • Indrani Barua says:



  4. Pingback: Kerala Christmas Fruit / Plum Cake | Renée's Recipe

  5. sylvia schafer says:

    Just found your post, thank you so much. Sylvia Schafer

  6. Shraddha says:

    Hi Renees would u pls share the recipe for this 1 kg dry fruits that have been soaked ! Thnx n Regds

    • Renée says:

      Hi there was a glitch and I received ur comment. There’s no exact recipe for the dry fruits. We like a lot of nuts, so I add more of that…followed by raisins and then a little of everything like cherries, orange zests, cranberries. I buy a packet or 2 of the dry fruit mixture mostly and extra nuts n raisins I add. Hope it helps.

  7. Smita says:

    Hi Renee, I’m about to soak my fruits in a day or two. This is my first time with a christmas cake baking and I’m a novice. I had a doubt regarding the baking. I’m planning to bake cakes in 1/2 Kg pans. Can I bake two 1/2 kg such pans together or they have to be done one by one? Any idea as to what should be my temp settings? Thanks. Smita

    • Renée says:

      Hi Smita.. thanks for dropping by. You can surely put the batter in 2 separate tins and bake it together in the oven. The temp will remain the same 180C. However, the time taken to bake might be lesser. It actually depends on ur baking tray. If you’re using a deep baking tin obviously the time will be more compared to a more flat tin.
      All the best and let me know how it turns out.

  8. Smily Rodrigues says:

    Hi Renee hope u are doing fine.
    I am very much interested in preparing a rum cake for this Christmas. I have read your recipe for soaking the fruits, i would highly appreciate if u could kindly share the full recipe of the rum cake including the batter and the baking….
    Thanks a lot and await for your recipe.

  9. sausi007 says:

    Thanks for this great recipe. One doubt –
    Why does the recipe ask for the raisins to be soaked for weeks? Going by what was taught to us in science class, there is only a limited amount the raisins can absorb and plump with. Which would probably take Max 6-8 hours. Rest of the alcohol that gets reduced is probably due to evaporation.
    I don’t seem to understand the reasoning that the raisins will be absorb more if kept for longer.
    Can you help me understand please?

    • Renée says:

      Sorry I was traveling n hence the delay. I do not know the science behind the absorption of alcohol by the fruits. But from practical experience I can surely vouch that soaking the fruits for atleast 2 weeks will taste much better than the ones soaked overnight. The fruits get soft and is full of alcohol flavor. Do try it this way and I’m sure you’ll see the difference too. Happy baking n seasons greetings!!

  10. Sandhya nair says:

    Hiii, thanks for this recipe, should we soak cashew nuts too, I hope it won’t get soggy by soaking.

  11. Lily says:

    Hi Renee, am lily I have soaked my fruits can I bake my cake on Monday as there is a Christmas meal on Friday and am baking a cake for my friends. Thanks

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