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Storing Christmas Cake Without Alcohol

Asked by Parousia. Answered on 22nd October 2017

Full question

Will the Christmas Cake still keep for a couple of months if I don’t soak the fruits in alcohol? I prefer them without the brandy flavour. I also don’t like ingredients such as candied peel, prunes or dates in my cakes. If it contains these ingredients can I just replace them with more raisins, sultanas and cherries?

Traditional Christmas Cake
By Nigella
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Our answer

Nigella's Traditional Christmas Cake recipe (from Nigella Christmas) warms the dried fruits in alcohol then leaves them to soak overnight. This soaking is needed to help the dried fruits to rehydrate and become plump and soft, otherwise the cake will be a little dry. Glace fruits such as cherries and candied peel do not need to be soaked and so can be omitted from the soaking stage and just added when the cake batter is mixed. If you do not want to use alcohol then fresh orange juice is an alternative, though you should leave the fruits in orange juice to soak overnight in the fridge once they have cooled.

A cake made without alcohol will not keep as well as one that is made and then fed with alcohol, so we would suggest that you do not make the cake more than one month in advance of eating. If you need to make it further ahead then it is best to freeze the cake until needed, wrapped tightly in a double layer of clingfilm (plastic wrap) and a layer of foil. Thaw the cake overnight at room temperature. In some recipes prunes can be substituted with other dried fruits such as raisins and sultanas, but it depends on the quantities and other ingredients in the cake. For Nigella's Chocolate Fruit Cake we do not recommend substituting the prunes for other dried fruits.

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