I can only recall one episode of my mother making Christmas cakes when I was growing up. The fruit was costly back then and making them was time-consuming but I think she didn’t bake them again because of the reaction she received from her children.
Her fruitcakes were rejected by the majority of the eight of us, and I’m sure with all the groans and yucks kids still express today. However, Christmas celebrations wouldn’t be complete for millions of people without the Christmas cake. Fruit cake is either loved or hated and to appease both sides, I’ve included a favourite recipe for a rich chocolate cake, as well as for a fruit cake.
Double Chocolate Christmas Cake
1-3/4 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup brewed strong coffee, room temp.
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate bars (100 g each), divided
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 cups thawed Cool Whip
1 cup fresh raspberries
Heat oven to 350°F. Beat first 10 ingredients in large bowl with mixer until well-blended. Pour into 9-inch springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 50 to 55 min. or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. (Cake will have slight indentation in centre.) Cool 10 min. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; remove rim. Poke deep rings in cake at 1-inch intervals, using handle of wooden spoon. Break chocolate bars into pieces; reserve 6 pieces. Place remaining chocolate in microwaveable bowl; add half-and-half. Microwave on medium 1 min. or until chocolate is almost melted; stir until completely melted. Pour melted chocolate into rings in cake. Refrigerate 1 hour. Top cake with Cool Whip and berries just before serving. Place reserved chocolate bar pieces in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on medium 20 sec. or until chocolate is almost melted; stir until completely melted. Drizzle over cake. Beautiful to look at, moist and scrumptious to eat.
Rich, Dark Fruit Cake
2 cups Sultana raisins
2 cups seedless raisins
1½ cups currants
1½ cups candied cherries, halved
1½ cups mixed candied fruit
1½ cups chopped dates
1½ cups pecans (halves)
1 cup apples, finely chopped pared and cored
2¾ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ginger
1½ teaspoons mace
1 tsp. ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup light molasses
2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, melted
Line a 9” or 10” tube pan with two thicknesses of buttered brown paper.
Combine fruits, nuts and fresh apple in large bowl. Dredge fruit with ¼ cup of the flour.
Measure 2½ cups flour (without sifting) onto square of waxed paper. Add baking powder, spices and salt. Stir well to blend. Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses and melted chocolate. Add blended dry ingredients to creamed mixture, combining well. Stir in fruit and nut mixture until well-mixed. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Preheat oven to 275°F. Bake about 2½ hours, or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cake cool completely in pan on wire rack. Remove cake from pan, peel off paper and wrap in foil. Store in airtight container or in refrigerator for several weeks. Most fruit cake recipes taste best made several weeks before Christmas so this is a great make-ahead dessert. Wrap cake in cheesecloth, then in foil. Unwrap every few days and drizzle with a bit of liquid. The best cake makers swear by rum or orange liqueur. (if you don’t want to use alcohol, use orange juice), wrap tightly and keep in cool place (like back of fridge) for a few weeks. Decorate with glaze or almond paste and icing, or top with candied cherries and nuts.
Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.