How to store Christmas fruit cake?
In this article, we will answer the question “How to store Christmas fruit cake?”, and how to make the best Christmas cake?
How to store Christmas fruit cake?
One of the bakery products in the industry is cake. Globally, the market has currently grown about 1.5% (6).
Fruit cake has a shelf life of one year when stored frozen (2). Alcohol acts as a preservative in food (5), and, although fruit cake may be safe to eat after many years in a microbiological point of view (3), it will not taste good, thus chemical reactions occur during storage, including oxidation of the fatty acids (4).
Follow the steps below to successfully store your Christmas cake.
Step 1: Marinate a cheesecloth/muslin in brandy, rum, wine, or fruit juice. Use this cheesecloth/muslin to wrap your Christmas cake.
Step 2: Then wrap the cake in aluminum foil.
Step 3: Now that the Christmas cake is double wrapped, put it in an air-tight container or a plastic bag.
Step 4: Store the cake somewhere dark, dry, and cool, such as the pantry.
Aged Christmas cake does not need to be eaten right away because it can be safely kept in the fridge or freezer for later. Usually, a Christmas fruit cake is aged for about 2-years but 6-7 weeks of aging also results in a pretty delicious fruit cake.
Frequent and consistent feeding of Christmas fruit cake during the aging period contributes to a longer shelf-life.
If the fruit cake contains alcohol, it needs to be aged for about 4 weeks before freezing. This is because freezing does not mellow the booze flavor. Soaked fruit cake is best consumed within a year of storage.
Hydrogen bonding of water molecules with polar groups on proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids is important in food systems from the standpoint of structural stability, chemical reactivity, and water-holding capacity. Alcohol molecules are also polar and are bound to the water molecules in the cake. Bound water has restricted motion compared to full liquid water, has a low self-diffusion constant close to that of ice, and does not crystallize at sub freezing temperatures (1). In other words, in frozen conditions, the alcohol-water hydrogen bridges cannot diffuse in the food. Therefore, the aging time is needed.
Alcohol-free fruit cake
Alcohol-free or unsoaked fruit cakes tend to dry out and go hard during storage. But there are ways you can revive your alcohol-free fruit cake. Let’s get into the process.
- First of all, poke holes all over the surface of your alcohol-free fruit cake. Make sure the hole goes all the way to the other side of the cake. You can use a skewer for this purpose.
- In a large saucepan, pour 1/2 cup alcohol, such as brandy, cognac, or rum. Then stir in a bit of zest for flavor. Place the cake in this pool of alcohol and heat until the alcohol starts to simmer.
- Cover the saucepan and let the steam do its magic. During the steaming process, uncover the pan to spoon the liquor over the cake to make sure that the cake absorbs all the alcohol. Do this multiple times and put the lid back on after each session.
How to make the best Christmas cake?
- 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes, or figs)
- zest and juice 1 orange
- zest and juice 1 lemon
- 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky, or rum, plus extra for feeding
- 250g pack butter, softened
- 200g light soft brown sugar
- 175g plain flour
- 100g ground almond
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 100g flaked almonds
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large pan, add 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest, and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter, and 200g light, soft brown sugar. Set the pan over medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Transfer this mixture into a large bowl and set it aside to cool.
- Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line the bottom of a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking paper. Wrap the exterior of the pan with a double layer of newspaper and secure it in place using string.
- Add 175g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 100g flaked almonds, 4 large eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla extract into the fruit mixture. Stir well until homogenous and no flour pockets remain.
- Spoon the cake mixture into the parchment-lined tin and level the surface with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Place the tin in the center rack of the oven and bake for about 2 hours.
- When the time is up, remove the tin from the oven and poke holes into the cake using a skewer. Pour 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol over the cake and let it cool down in the tin.
- Remove the parchment paper, wrap the cake in clingfilm and store somewhere cool and dry. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp of alcohol, every fortnight. Skip the feeding for the final week to allow the surface to dry up before you frost it.
Other FAQs about Fruit cake that you may be interested in.
Can you freeze a boiled fruit cake?
Can you freeze the Christmas fruit cake?
In this article, we answered the question “How to store Christmas fruit cake?”, and how to make the best Christmas cake?
- Powrie, W. D. Chemical effects during storage of frozen foods. J Chem Edu, 1984, 340.
- Van Laanen, Peggy. Safe home food storage. Texas FARMER Collection. 2002.
- Shipman. M. Fruitcake – Will it Last Forever? 2014. New York State University.
- DAGLIOGLU, Orhan, et al. Changes in oxidative stability of selected bakery products during shelf life. Food sci technol res, 2007, 10, 464-468.
- Abdulmumeen, Hamid A., Ahmed N. Risikat, and Agboola R. Sururah. Food: Its preservatives, additives and applications. Int J Chem Biochem Sci, 2012, 1, 36-47.
- Khanam, Tayyaba, et al. Nutritionally enriched cake using vegetable and fruit waste: A review. Curr Top Phytochem, 2019, 8, 722-5.