We all love a super moist fruit cake with dried fruits and nuts when Christmas comes around. Making this cake from scratch is easy. It is alcohol-free but the addition of treacle and orange oil helps to bring out the delicious flavours of this fruit cake. This is definitely the cake to bake for Christmas.
Secrets to a moist fruit cake
Baking a soft and moist cake is achievable with the following tips which need to be taken into account before, during and even after baking. Never skip any of these tips or you may end up with a dry fruit cake.
1. Soaking dried fruits and nuts
This can be done in water or alcohol. Soaking of the fruits and nuts conditions them so the baked product will retain its moisture. If you opt for an alcohol option, soak them in rum or brandy. Just substitute water with alcohol of the same amount as mentioned in this recipe. It's best to soak them for at least 6 hours. Skipping the soaking process may cause the fruits and nuts to absorb the moisture from the cake.
If you are short of time, bring water to a rolling boil. Then, add the dried fruits and nuts. Turn off the stove, cover the pot with a lid and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. However, note that the flavours of the fruits and nuts may be released into the water causing the cake to lose a bit of flavour. Hence, the slow soaking process is highly recommended.
2. Steaming in the oven
While baking the cake, having a tray filled with water below the cake pan will help to create steam. This will keep the cake moist. It's best to fill up 1/3 of the tray with hot or boiling water. If you don't have a tray, use any pan or casserole with a large surface.
3. Storing fruit cake
Leaving the cake in the open may cause it to dry up. It is best to wrap the cake with cling wrap and store in an air-tight container.
What is treacle and its substitute?
Treacle is a thick, sticky dark syrup made from partly refined sugar. Besides adding a rich strong flavour, it also adds a beautiful dark brown colour to the fruit cake. Treacle is mostly found in supermarkets or baking supply stores especially when Christmas is around. If it is not available, use molasses instead. Otherwise, substitute it with the same amount of brown sugar.
Can orange juice be used?
Instead of using orange oil, you can substitute it with the same amount of orange juice. It's recommended to add orange zest as well for a more intense flavour.
Using oil instead of butter
Butter does not only add flavour to the cake but because it solidifies when refrigerated, it is easier to cut the cake especially when there are so many nuts and fruits in them. If you do not enjoy the taste of butter, use oil instead. Simply substitute butter with oil of the same amount.
If oil is used, skip the heating process in step 3. You'll just need to mix all the ingredients and proceed with the recipe as suggested.
Substitute for nutmeg and ginger powder
If you happen to have all spice powder, you can use it to replace nutmeg and ginger powder. Add 4 g of all spice and 4 g of cinnamon powder instead.
Risk of cake falling apart
As there are a lot of nuts and fruits in the cake, it may fall apart when cut especially when the cake is still warm. Once the cake is done baking and had cooled to room temperature, chill it in the refrigerator for about 1 to 2 hours. Make sure it has hardened a little before cutting with a sharp knife.
Freezing fruit cake
Frozen fruit cake can be kept for about 1.5 months. Wrapped the cake with cling wrap and then leave at room temperature to thaw. Cake is guaranteed moist after thawing.