Everyone should get a delivery of Christmas cake at least once in their life, don’t you think? Yesterday was my lucky day, as a basket with one of chef Mynhardt Joubert’s beautifully wrapped Christmas cakes made its way to my front door. Tucked beside it was a bottle of KWV 10 year old pot still brandy and while the brandy can wait for a special occasion, the cake got immediate attention!
This is my kinda Christmas cake – rich, fragrant, studded with large chunks of luscious dried fruit and soaked in brandy. Definitely moreish! And thanks to the good folks at Feed That Bird PR and chef Mynhardt, I have the recipe to share with you below.
You can also buy the cakes ready-made if you’re quick about it! Mynhardt has baked 200 of the most wondrously rich and boozy, fruity Christmas cakes for sale directly to the public. The cakes cost R250 via www.mynhardt.co.za, or at the Festive Ideas Market from 2 to 6 November at Simondium Country Lodge, situated between Paarl and Franschhoek.
Chef Mynhardt’s nifty tips for flawless fruit cake
Says Joubert, “I’ve never really liked fruit cake. Then, three years ago, my sister baked one for me and mailed it to me all the way from Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State, packaged in an old-fashioned tin. That day, I started loving fruit cake and to this day, I still bake her recipe every year.”
- Keep it natural: Don’t add too many “foreign spices” like nutmeg. Let the natural flavours of the fruit, nuts and brandy do the talking.
- Don’t add too much brandy: Adding too much brandy will give the cake a dense and heavy texture. If you use a moist batter, like this one in my sister’s recipe, you will find that it is not necessary to add too much brandy. To maintain the brandy flavour and moisture in the run-up to Christmas, about 50 ml of brandy per week will be sufficient.
- Choose serving companions carefully: Fruit cake is quite rich, so serve it with something light like crème anglaise or a light home-made ginger ice-cream as alternative to custard.
- Use raisins sparingly: If you add too many raisins, the cake will be too dark in colour and might have a sour taste. Opt for golden sultanas instead, like in this recipe.
- Do not over mix: When you combine all the ingredients, don’t be too vigorous when you stir and mix, as this will crush the nuts and cherries and we want the cake filled with nice, big cherries and chunks of nuts.
On with the wonderful recipe!
Mynhardt Joubert’s Fruity Christmas Cake
Says Mynhardt: ‘This is one of the most delicious Christmas cakes I have tasted in a long time. I got the recipe from my sister, who sent me the cake in a beautiful tin from the Free State one Christmas – one of my favourite gifts ever! The original recipe comes from the mother of Arina du Plessis from the magazine Landbouweekblad. I have adapted it a little bit to suit my taste.’
Servings – large cake
1 cup (250 ml) water
310 ml soft brown sugar
1 kg Safari dried fruit cake mix
250 g Safari dried fruit dates chopped
250 g Safari dried fruit golden sultanas
250 g Safari cashew and macadamia nuts roughly chopped
7 ml baking soda
250 g butter
100 g whole red glacé cherries
100 g whole green glacé cherries
5 eggs, beaten
4 t (20 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125 m)l KWV brandy
2 and a half cups (625 ml) self-raising flour
1 t (5 ml) salt
1 t (5 ml) cinnamon powder
- Preheat the oven to 120 °C (250 °F) and butter the inside of a high, 25 cm diameter cake tin.
- Line the sides and bottom of the baking tin with three layers of baking paper and butter the inside again.
- Slowly heat the first eight ingredients to boiling point and let it simmer for five minutes.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool. Add the cherries and stir well.
- Combine the eggs, vanilla and brandy together, and add it to the mixture. Stir until throughly combined.
- Add the flour, cinnamon and salt, and mix well.
- Spoon the mixture into the pan and bake for two hours.
- Let the cake cool in the pan and turn it out. Sprinkle a bit of brandy over the cake and place it in an airtight container.
- Sprinkle more brandy over regularly to keep the cake moist.