People soak their dry fruits one year in advance. Hence I should be soaking my dried fruits for my Christmas cake or pudding now for next year. Crazy isn’t it? Every country has its own tradition of making Christmas cake and pudding. It is said that Brandy is the best liquor to soak your dried fruit in. I beg to differ.
So here is my guide to soaking fruits for your Christmas cake. Also, I have added a few tips on non-alcoholic options and the types of dried fruit you could use. Do make a note that these are my opinions, everyone has their own and some of my views aren’t traditional but they definitely work. There are three parts to making the perfect minced meat aka soaked dried fruits.
- Wash, dry and prepare Dried fruit
- Source good alcohol/liquor
- Soaking the dried fruit
There are many varieties of dried fruit combinations for the Christmas cake/pudding. Traditionally one would use raisins, sultanas, candied peel and some chopping almonds. It is not set in stone anywhere that you must follow that list. I use a mixture of Raisins, Golden Sultanas, Candied Peel, Stem Ginger, Dates, Apricots, Prunes, Dried Cranberries, Fresh fruit (apple/pear), Chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, cashews, pine nuts). Now you could add other types of nuts or fruit into this mixture, whatever you truly like. However, try to follow the ratios to avoid the fruits not being soaked well enough. When it comes to cleaning, washing your dried fruit are a must as they might have some dirt or unwanted stalks, stems or seeds in the mixture that might sneak into the cake later on. Hence, it is important to wash and sun dry them before chopping and soaking them.
Liquor or Sainthood?
Liquor aka Alcohol:Time to bring the booze out! Different countries have their own traditions on the kind of alcohol that is used to prepare the ever so faithful Christmas cake. Brandy is the commonly used spirit to drown the dried fruits. However, I use a combination of Brandy, Old Monk Rum and Cointreau Liquor. Now you could use Peppermint liquor, Creme de cacao, good old Bourbon, etc…The flavours you soak your fruit with are the flavours that will permeate through the cake. Also, it’s these liquors that we then have to drench the cake in once it’s out of the oven, absolute madness I tell you. This is definitely the time of year where we don’t look at our waste line.
Sainthood aka Non-Alcoholic: Now those who don’t drink or consume alcohol in any form, this is a great option for you, there are two ways to soak your dried fruit mixture.
- Steep the dried fruits in a mixture of grape juice, orange juice, vanilla extract and dark brown muscovado sugar. This will help get your dried fruits plump and ready for baking.
- Boil the liquids (mentioned above) and sugar together, add the dried fruits into the boiling liquid, boil for a min and take off heat.
Whichever is your preference, make sure to soak the fruits well in advance for best results. Also, it is of utmost importance to let the mixture cool down before storing. Store your mix in an air tight container (glass jar preferably) and place in a dark spot in your kitchen at room temperature. This can last up to 5 years if stored well. I still my fruit soaking from 2 years ago. Hidden from the naked eye of course.
That’s my take on the traditional ideology of soaking dried fruits for your Christmas cake or Christmas Pudding.
- Dried raisins – 100gm
- Dried sultanas – 100gm
- Candied Peel – 100gm
- Stem Ginger – 3pcs
- Dates (pitted and chopped) – 100 gm
- Apricots – 50gm
- Prunes – 50gm
- Dried Cranberries – 100gm
- Fresh fruit (apple/pear) – 1no
- Chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, cashews, pine nuts) – 100gm
- Liquor (your choice) – 650ml
- Dark brown sugar – 2 tbsp
- Vanilla extract – 3 tbsp
- Mixed spice – 1 tbsp
- Finely chop all the dried fruit and nuts until uniform.
- Add the sugar, vanilla and mixed spice and stir till combined.
- Add the liquor and using your hands (wearing gloves) mix and smash the fruit a little into the liquid. Transfer into an air tight jar and leave to soak until needed.
- NOTE: SAINTHOOD: Replace the alcohol with a mixture of grape juice and nonage juice. Warm it in a sauce pan and add the fruits, nuts, vanilla, sugar and spice and leave to steep. OR boil all the ingredients together and leave to cool before storing in an air-tight container.
This filling can be used in cakes, puddings, mince pies, muffins, pop tarts or even warmed up over some vanilla bean ice-cream. A great edible gift for your friends as well!
Food is love. Food is life. Kill em with kindness. Happy days. Positive Ninja Vibes.
Annika’s Xmas Alert.
Get your Santa on!