Soaking fruits for Christmas Cake is the first step to making the traditional rich Christmas Fruitcake. Learn how to soak dried fruits the right way with this handy tutorial. They add amazing flavor, richness, and moisture to the fruit cake.
I baked my first-ever fruit cake in 2015! And since then it’s been a tradition to make it every Christmas just like my Mother-in-law does.
The first step of making the Rich Christmas Fruit Cake or plum cake requires soaking the fruits in liquor. The dry fruits rehydrate and turn plump and juicy lending a boozy, decadent, and rich flavor to the fruit cake.
Don’t consume alcohol? No worries, I’ve shared substitutes in the FAQ below.
My Mum-in-law makes the best fruit cake ever! People often help themselves with seconds! Yes, it is that good!
Now, each family has their own way of making this cake, from the kind of dry fruits they use or the recipe for the cake. Regardless of whatever dry fruits you use, it is necessary to soak them in some sort of liquid in order to macerate them and get them prepped up to be used in the fruit cake.
Table of Contents
I’ve used the following ingredients;
Dry fruits: I’ve used black raisins, raisins, black currants, unsweetened dried cranberries, dried apricots, prunes, tutti frutti, candied orange peel, and candied ginger.
Liquor: I’ve used dark rum to soak the fruits.
How to soak the fruit for Christmas cake – Step-by-step process
Step 1: Chop the fruits and mix
Chop up dry fruits like prunes, dried apricots, candied ginger, and candied orange peel. Remove the stems, if any of the raisins, and chop them in half if they are big. (Photo 1)
Add the chopped dry fruits to a bowl and mix well. If you want to add some orange marmalade, you can do so at this point and mix it well. About a 1/4 cup of marmalade is good. (Photos 2 and 3)
Step 2: Transfer to a glass jar and pour rum
Transfer the fruit mixture into an airtight glass jar. (Photo 4)
Pour rum over the fruits, just enough to immerse them completely. (Photo 5)
Close the jar and give it a shake. (Photo 6)
Store at room temperature until further use. Give the jar a shake every 2-3 days to ensure that the fruits are evenly soaked.
Step 3: Add more rum as needed after a couple of days
Check the jar in a few days, if most of the alcohol is soaked up, then add some more. (Photos 7 and 8)
Store the glass container in a cool and dry place. Remember to give it a shake every other day.
If most of the liquor is absorbed, add some more. The fruits should always remain submerged in the liquor.
Use your own mix of dry fruits: There is no hard and fast rule here that you must only use the dry fruits listed. This assortment of dry fruits works great for us. I know of someone who doesn’t like raisins in the cake, so she adds more candied fruit. Likewise, feel free to add whatever you like. Totally up to you! Make it your own 🙂
Uniform-sized pieces of dry fruits: Chop up the dry fruits into more or less even sizes before soaking. If the raisins are long, chop them in half. This will prevent the cake from crumbling too much while slicing it.
Use a glass or ceramic jar: Avoid using metallic containers to soak the fruits as the alcohol tends to react with these materials. Make sure that your glass/ceramic jar is airtight.
Leave about 2 to 3 inches of headspace in the jar: Avoid filling the fruits right up to the brim since they soak up the liquor and plump up.
Give the jar a good shake every other day: Do not forget about the jar once you soak your fruits. Do remember to give it a good shake or mix it with a clean, dry spoon. Check the alcohol levels and if it has reduced, add more.
Add some jam or citrus zest to the fruit mixture: You can add some orange marmalade if you love the citrusy flavor and the subtle bitterness it adds to the cake. You may also use other jams like blueberry, strawberry, etc. Some people also like adding lemon or orange zest. It really depends on what flavor you’d like in the final cake.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What dry fruits can be added to the rich Christmas fruit cake?
Use your choice of favorite dried fruits and liquor or a combination of liquors. My Mum-in-law uses these proportions.
- 300 grams of raisins (mixed)
- 100 grams of dates
- 100 grams of walnuts.
I’ve been experimenting with my assortment of dry fruits over the years and I tend to include a lot more while keeping the net quantity more or less the same. I’ve used black raisins, raisins, dried black currants, dried cranberries, prunes, apricots, tutti frutti, candied orange peel, and candied ginger.
You can also use red or green glace cherries, figs (if you don’t mind the tiny seeds), dried blueberries, etc.
I’ve also I’ve also skipped adding the nuts this time and will add them later into the cake batter.
What is the best liquid to soak dried fruit in for Christmas cake?
Typically, the dried fruits are soaked in liquor. In India, most folks use Old Monk dark rum. However, you can use spiced rum or other spirits like brandy, cognac, port wine, Madeira, sherry, etc.
What can I soak the fruit in instead of alcohol?
For a non-alcoholic version, you can use grape juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, or a combination of these juices.
How long should I soak the fruit for Christmas cake?
With alcohol: I suggest soaking the fruits for a minimum of 2 to 3 months in advance. Of course, the longer the better! You can soak the fruits up to a year in advance for a truly boozy fruit cake. If you are crunched for time,1 week or even 1 day of soaking the fruit works fine. But, it is best to plan in advance.
Here’s a timeline that you can use as a guide:
- Soak fruits 2-3 months in advance.
- Bake the cake in the first week of December or at least two weeks before Christmas.
- Mature the cake by feeding it with 2 tablespoons of rum after it’s baked, while it is warm, and then with another 1 to 2 tablespoons of rum once or twice a week until Christmas. Keep an eye on the cake as it is easy to overfeed it and it will turn soggy.
Please note, that this is what I like to follow. People have their own timelines, as some may prefer to bake the cake in October and feed the cake for 12 weeks. Some bake the cake a couple of days prior to Christmas and feed the cake only once after it’s baked. You can always experiment and see what works for you. Typically, In India, most folks bake their cakes a couple of days or weeks before Christmas.
Without alcohol: Store it in the refrigerator. Soak it only a week before you intend to bake the cake.
How much alcohol to use to soak the fruits for Christmas cake?
This will depend on the volume of the jar you use. There is no fixed quantity here. You need enough alcohol to cover the dry fruits completely. The fruits will soak up the alcohol and plump up. Add more alcohol as needed to submerge the fruits.
How many cakes can I make with this quantity of rum-soaked dried fruits?
This totally depends on what the recipe calls for and also on your preference for the fruit-to-cake crumb ratio. If you prefer more fruits in the cake you can double up this recipe.
My Mum-in-law soaks 500 grams of fruit for a 2.5 kg fruit cake. Her recipe makes a standard bundt cake and an 8-inch round cake. The fruit-to-crumb ratio is slightly less in this cake, but it still tastes so rich and decadent.
You can use this entire batch of soaked fruits to make one 9 x 2-inch square cake, a 10 x 2-inch round cake pan, or a standard bundt cake. This will yield a good amount of fruit-to-crumb ratio.
What else can I make with rum-soaked fruits?
You can make so many other things like;
- Breads like cinnamon rolls, buns, etc
- Spruce up a simple cake batter
- Ice creams, rum and raisin ice cream, anyone???
- As a topping on desserts
Have you soaked your dried fruits for the rich fruit cake yet?
I would love to hear from you! Please be sure to share your feedback and/or give this recipe a rating in the comment below. Your reviews help others know the recipe better too.
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Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published on Nov 21, 2015. It has been republished and updated with new images, video, and content on Nov 24, 2022. The original recipe has been modified, however, you can find the original quantities of dry fruits in the first query of the FAQs above.
Soaking Fruits For Christmas Cake
- 100 grams black raisins, 2/3 cup
- 100 grams raisins 2/3 cup
- 50 grams dried black currants, 1/3 cup
- 50 grams unsweetened dried cranberries, 1/3 cup
- 50 grams dried apricots, 1/3 cup
- 50 grams prunes, deseeded, 1/3 cup
- 50 grams tutti-frutti, 1/3 cup
- 25 grams candied orange peel, heaping 1/8 cup
- 25 grams candied ginger, 1/8 cup
- 2 cups dark rum, or as needed (you may use your favorite liquor)
Chop the fruits and mix
- Chop up the dry fruits like prunes, apricots, candied ginger, and candied orange peel.
- Remove the stems, if any of the raisins, and chop them in half if they are big.
- Add the chopped dry fruits to a bowl and mix well. If you want to add some orange marmalade, you can do so at this point and mix it well. About a 1/4 cup of marmalade is good.
Transfer to a glass jar and pour rum
- Transfer the fruit mixture into an airtight glass jar.
- Pour rum over the fruits, just enough to immerse them completely
- Close the jar and give it a shake.
- Store at room temperature until further use. Give the jar a shake every 2-3 days to ensure that the fruits are evenly soaked.
Add more rum as needed after a couple of days
- Check the jar in a few days, if most of the alcohol is soaked up, then add some more.