It’s Stir-Up Saturday!
Time to celebrate the coming of Advent by “making over” one of the holidays’ most dreaded beasts, a.ka. “the doorstop,” a.k.a. “alien food”… Oh no! It isn’t…No, it can’t be….Fruitcake? Never you fear, this is a Christmas Cake that will turn you into a “believer,” a fruit cake believer, that is. First and foremost, there’s nothing remotely neon about this cake…nothing electric red or green or orange in here. Nobody in this house would be willing to touch something studded with candied garbage, especially the candied stuff you buy in the store. Our cake is made with dried fruits and roasted nuts. And then there’s the fun factor, too. Every few days, the kids get to open it up, peek on it, and feed it with mama’s whiskey – under supervision, naturally. The cake’s “maturation” process keeps them active and engaged in the kitchen all December long!
The recipe below is a combination of recipes by American Alton Brown and Brit. James Martin, both of them designed to thrill. Of course, we’ve added a decidedly Canadian twist! Canadian Whiskey and good old fashioned Maple Syrup go into this Canadian Christmas Cake. If you want to get your house smelling fantastic in a hurry, this is the cake for you. And, well, if you like to get ahead on your Christmas desserts, then there’s nothing to hold you back. This one is going right next to the Bûche de Noël on the Christmas table. And we have a feeling it will be gone in a flash, just like all three of our famous Bûches!
Twenty-First Century Canadian Christmas Cake
- 4 c dried fruit [we used currants cherries, chopped dried mission figs, and blueberries]
- 1 c Canadian Whiskey [or brandy sherry or rum] plus more for "maturing" the cake
- zest 2 oranges [or lemons]
- 1 c strained orange juice [we used 3 oranges or substitute apple cider]
- 3/4 c brown sugar
- 1/4 c maple syrup [or more brown sugar]
- 1 1/4 c butter room temperature
- 1 3/4 c all purpose flour [or nut-flour substitute if gluten-free]
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 eggs stirred
- 1 c pecan pieces [or other nuts] lightly toasted
Day-of Maple Glaze
- 2 tbs butter
- 1/4 c maple syrup
- 1 c icing sugar
- In a large bowl, mix fruit, whiskey and orange zest and macerate 8-24 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Place fruit and remaining liquid [if there is any] in a non-reactive pot with juice, sugar, syrup and butter.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Reduce to a low simmer and simmer for up 10 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat, place the fruit mixture in a cool, clean bowl, and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.
- While the mixture is cooling:
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Line the bottom and the inside rim of a 1o.5-in in round baking pan or the equivalent with parchment.
- Place the pecan pieces on a parchment lined sheet and toast for 3-4 minutes, until just sweating.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
- When the mixture is cool, slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing with a spatula to incorporate.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
- Add the nuts and mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer pierced into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove the pan to a wire rack.
- Cool the cake COMPLETELY IN THE PAN on the rack.
- When the cake has cooled:
- Dunk a large piece of clean cheesecloth into a small amount of whiskey [brandy or other alcohol] until moist but not dripping. Squeeze out if necessary.
- Spread out a large piece of plastic wrap or two criss-crossed pieces big enough to cover the whole cake.
- Spread the soaked cheesecloth out over top of the plastic wrap.
- Place the cake bottom down/face up on the cloth and plastic, making sure to remove any parchment on the cake's bottom.
- Spoon a few tablespoons [up to 1 cup] of whiskey over the top of the cake.
- Wrap the cake fully in the cheesecloth.
- Wrap cake in plastic so that is is completely sealed.
- Place cloth- and plastic-wrapped cake in an airtight bag, container or foil.
- Open the cake and "feed" it occasionally by spooning more of your chosen alcohol over the top of the cake every 3-6 days for at least 3-4 weeks [although cake tastes just great after baking!].
- Stop "feeding" the cake 3-6 days before serving.
- Cake tastes better and better the longer it sits "inebriated."
- 4 weeks or longer is best.
- Although, it's just as fantastic baked a day or two before and soaked with warm whiskey on site.
- Slice and serve as desired.
- Or, go crazy and top it with a maple glaze!
Day-of Maple Glaze
- In a small saucepan or in the microwave, melt butter and syrup together.
- Whisk icing sugar into hot mixture.
- Pour over cake.