Try our easy three-in-one fruit mix, studded with festive dried cranberries and rich with brandy, to create a traditional Christmas cake, pudding and cute mince pies
THREE-IN-ONE BASIC FRUIT MIX
Prep 40 mins (+ standing) | Makes 9 cups
Ideally, make this recipe one month ahead. This basic fruit mix is enough to make 12 mince pies (see page 118), a regular-sized cake (see recipe, page 119), and boiled pudding to serve 10 (see recipe, page 120).
170 g packet Ocean Spray Craisins (dried cranberries)
21⁄2 cups sultanas
2 cups currants
21⁄3 cups raisins, coarsely chopped
1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
2⁄3 cup pitted prunes, finely chopped
1 cup dried figs, finely chopped
2 large apples, grated coarsely
¼ cup golden syrup or treacle
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
11⁄2 cups brandy
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Combine ingredients in a large bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Store in a cool, dark place for a month (or longer, if desired) before using. Stir the mixture every two or three days.
You can customise the flavour of the fruit mix by substituting other dried fruit. To make the substitutions, ensure the substitute is the same weight as the fruit you are replacing.
In place of brandy, you could also use a 50:50 mixture of rum and amaretto.
To turn the fruit mix into a gift, pack in sterilised jars and label with date.
THREE-IN-ONE MIX MINCE PIES
Prep & Cook 1 hour (+ refrigeration) | Makes 12
You need a 7 cm-round cutter and 4.5-cm star cutter for this recipe, or you can cut the stars out freehand using a sharp pointed knife. Pies are best baked up to one day ahead.
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
75 g cold butter, chopped coarsely
1 egg, separated
1 tbsp iced water, approximately
1 cup Three-In-One Basic Fruit Mix (recipe on previous spread)
1 tsp lemon rind, finely grated
1 tbsp white sugar
1. Grease a 12-hole (2-tbsp) round-based patty pan.
2. Process flour, icing sugar and butter until crumbly. Add egg yolk and enough of the water to make ingredients just come together. Knead dough on a lightly flavoured surface until smooth. Cover dough with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 30 mins.
3. Preheat oven to 200 C (180 C fan-forced).
4. Roll two-thirds of the dough between sheets of baking paper until 3 mm thick. Use round cutter to cut 12 rounds from pastry (re-roll pastry scraps if necessary to make a total of 12 rounds). Press rounds into pan holes; reserve pastry scraps.
5. Combine basic fruit mix and rind in a medium bowl. Drop level tablespoons of fruit mince into pastry cases.
6. Combine reserved pastry with pastry scraps, roll out until 3 mm thick. Using the star cutter, or a sharp knife, cut out 12 stars. Place stars in centre of pies, brush with egg white, sprinkle with white sugar.
7. Bake for about 20 mins or until pies are browned lightly. Stand for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Serve dusted with extra icing sugar, if desired.
THREE-IN-ONE MIX FRUIT CAKE
Prep & Cook 3 hours (+ cooling) | Serves 20
41⁄4 cups (135 kg) Three-In-One Basic Fruit Mix (recipe on previous spread)
185 g butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten lightly
11⁄2 cups plain flour
1⁄2 tsp bicarboanate of soda
1⁄4 cup brandy
1. Preheat oven to 140 C. Line base and side of a deep 20-cm round cake pan with one layer of brown paper and two layers of baking paper, extending paper 5 cm above top of pan (see “Lining a round cake pan” below).
2. Place basic fruit mix in a large bowl. Stir in butter, eggs, sifted flour and soda. Spread mixture into pan; level top.
3. Bake cake for 21⁄2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Brush hot cake with brandy. Cover hot cake with foil; wrap in a clean towel. Cool the cake in the pan overnight.
FRUIT CAKE STEPS
1. Lining a round cake pan
Cut lengths of brown and baking paper to line the side of the cake pan, overlapping ends slightly. Make a 2-cm fold, snip paper up to the fold (Step 1A). Trace the base of the pan onto paper; cut out paper slightly inside the marked circle. Position in pan. Lightly grease the pan to hold the paper in place. Position the paper around side of the pan, with the snipped fold at the bottom (Step 1B). The multiple layers of paper will insulate the cake and prevent it from burning during the long cooking time.
2. Preparing the cake mixture
Place basic fruit mix in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter and lightly beaten eggs. Sift the flour and baking soda over the fruit mixture in bowl (Step 2) and fold in dry ingredients to combine. Make sure that the mixture is well incorporated.
3. Filling the cake pan
Drop spoonfuls of fruit cake mixture around the edge of the cake pan (or in the corners if using a square pan) to hold the baking paper in position (Step 3A), then add the rest of the mixture. Fruit cakes often end up with air pockets; pour mixture and lightly tap the pan a few times to eliminate any air pockets forming, then level top with the back of a spoon or spatula (Step 3B).
4. Settling the cake mixture
Hold the pan with both hands and bang it down hard on the bench or drop the pan from about 20 cm (Step 4). Do this a couple of times to settle the mixture and get rid of larger air bubbles.
THREE-IN-ONE MIX BOILED PUDDING
Prep & Cook 6 hours 45 mins (+ standing & cooling) | Serves 10
To boil the pudding, you will need a 60-cm square of unbleached calico. If the calico has not been used before, soak it in cold water overnight. The next day, boil it for 20 mins, then rinse in cold water. You will also need 2.5 m of kitchen string. The pudding can also be steamed by following our Chef’s Tips on the facing page.
4¼ cups Three-In-One Basic Fruit Mix (recipe on first spread)
185 g butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten lightly
3 cups lightly packed stale breadcrumbs
1 cup plain flour, plus extra
1. Place basic fruit mix in a large bowl. Stir in butter, eggs, breadcrumbs and sifted flour.
2. Fill a boiler three quarters full with hot water; cover and bring to the boil.
3. Have ready 2.5 m of kitchen string and an extra 3⁄4 cup plain flour. Wearing thick rubber gloves and using tongs, dip prepared pudding cloth into boiling water, boil for 1 min. Remove cloth from water, squeeze excess water from cloth. Working quickly, spread the hot cloth on a bench. Rub the extra flour into centre of the cloth to cover an area of about 40 cm in diameter; leave the flour a little thicker in centre of the cloth where the “skin” on the pudding will need to be the thickest.
4. Place pudding mixture in centre of cloth. Gather the cloth evenly around pudding, avoiding any deep pleats; pat into a round shape. Tie cloth tightly with kitchen string as close to mixture as possible. Knot the corners of cloth together to make pudding easier to remove from the boiler.
5. Gently lower pudding into the boiling water. Tie the free ends of the strings to handles of the boiler to suspend the pudding. Cover boiler with a tight-fitting lid; boil rapidly for 6 hours. Replenish the boiling water as needed to maintain boil and water level – there must be enough boiling water for the pudding to be immersed at all times.
6. Untie pudding from the handles. Place handle of a wooden spoon through the knotted string loops to lift the pudding from the water. Don’t put the pudding on the bench: suspend it from the spoon on the rungs of an upturned stool. The pudding must be suspended freely. If the pudding has been cooked correctly, the cloth will start to dry in patches within a few minutes. Hang pudding for 10 mins.
7. Place the pudding in a bowl, cut string, gently peel away cloth to uncover about half the pudding. Scrape the “skin” back onto the pudding with a palette knife if necessary. Invert the pudding onto a plate and continue to peel off the cloth completely. Stand the pudding for at least 20 mins or until the “skin” darkens and the pudding becomes firm, before cutting to serve.
To store your Christmas pudding, make sure to cool pudding to room temperature first, then wrap in plastic wrap and seal tightly in a freezer bag (or place in an airtight container). Store in the fridge for up to two months or freeze for up to 12 months.
To get it ready, thaw frozen boiled pudding in fridge for three days. Remove from the fridge 12 hours before reheating. Remove the plastic wrap, cover with a non-floured cloth and tie. Boil for 2 hours. Hang the hot pudding for 10 mins. Remove cloth; stand for 20 mins before serving. To reheat a whole boiled Christmas pudding in a microwave oven, microwave on medium for 15 mins or until hot.
CRANBERRY & ALMOND FRUIT CAKE
Prep & Cook 3 hours (+ standing) | Serves 20
You will need to start this recipe a day ahead.
170 g dried cranberries
3 cups sultanas
¾ cup glace cherries, coarsely chopped
1 cup soft and juicy dried apricots, coarsely chopped
½ cup brandy
250 g butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tbsp orange rind, finely grated
½ cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1¼ cups plain flour
2 tsps mixed spice
80 g unsalted butter, chopped
⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
1 cup flaked almonds
¾ cup glace cherries, halved
½ cup mixed peel
1. Combine fruit and brandy in a large bowl; cover. Stand overnight, stirring occasionally, until brandy is absorbed.
2. Preheat oven to 160 C. Grease a deep 22-cm round cake pan; line base and side with two layers of brown paper and two layers of baking paper, extending the papers 5 cm above the tin edge (see Fruit Cake Steps, page 119).
3. Beat butter, sugar and rind in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined between additions (the mixture may appear curdled at this stage, but will come together later). Stir egg mixture into fruit mixture, then stir sifted flour and spice, mix well.
4. Spoon mixture evenly into pan. Tap the pan on bench to remove any air bubbles; Smooth the surface with damp fingers.
5. Bake cake for 1 hour 40 mins.
6. ALMOND TOPPING Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the sugar and golden syrup; cook stirring until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat; stir in almonds and fruit.
7. Spread Almond Topping evenly over cake, bake for a further 40 mins or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (if topping starts to over-brown, cover cake loosely with foil). Place a piece of baking paper over top of cake, cover hot cake tightly with foil. Cool cake in pan overnight. Not suitable to freeze or microwave.
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