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Tips for the perfect Christmas Cake


We’ve got the best tips for your Christmas Cake this year. If you haven’t baked yours yet, NOW is the time to start, it needs some delicious maturing.

No-one wants to have a flop with their Christmas cake. At Food Lover’s Market, we have always been part of Christmas as South Africa’s supplier of fruit cake mix for over 20 years. We didn’t make it all the way to (and through!) 2020 without gathering some of the best tips to help you make the perfect fruit cake at home.

If you’ve had some ‘oopsies’ in the past, if the family recipe seemed to leave out some crucial steps, or especially if it’s your first time, have a read through our tips for Christmas Cake.

1.Use the freshest spices!

Fruit cake is very much about the warm festive spices. To get the best flavour out of your spices, buy them whole and grate or grind them freshly before adding them to your cake mixture. Nutmeg can be grated on your grater, while you may need a mortar and pestle for cinnamon and cloves. You can find fresh, whole spices at Food Lover’s Market. Simply scoop up what you need and our team will weigh and price it for you.

2.Which Sugar to best for fruit cake?

Which sugar to use is not just about the flavour and texture but also about the colour. Do you want a dark or light fruit cake? Light in texture or sticky and heavy?  When choosing your sugar, you need to know the desired outcome you want. A rich aroma and stickier texture then you should use light brown sugar. When choosing dark brown sugar, you will get a dramatic colouring and it this will add to the moistness to the cake and add a depth of flavour.

3.How do you keep your Christmas Cake moist?

To maintain moisture to your Christmas cake, reach for cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. When having the option of adding butter then opt for real butter instead of stick margarine. Once you place the mixture in the oven, place a pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack in the oven to add moisture while it is being baked. For an amazing texture of fruits,  soak the fruits overnight to use the next day. This ensures the fruit has its own moisture and does not take moisture from the cake batter. (*Soak your fruit mix in fruit juice or the alcohol of your choice for 12 hours before you make the cake, to keep it extra moist. Brandy or whiskey are the most popular choices.0

Did your cake come out drier than you hoped? No problem. Simply cut your cake in 2 halves if possible and pierce and drizzle, or brush with sugar syrup or orange juice to add moisture and sweetness. If you are planning on adding alcohol, brushing on your sweet alcohol is also a solution.

4.What is the best alcohol to put in a fruit cake?

The best alcohol to use in a fruit cake is a reasonably strong spirit. It should contain around 40% ABV, this alcohol should have fiery and warm flavours that will compliment the taste of the cake. We suggest rum, even a spiced rum, whiskey – or South Africa’s favourite – brandy. Another South Africa favourite is to substitue the alcohol for Rooibos tea!

For some recipe inspirations, see your recipes below, from our kitchen and from our foodie friends:

5. How to stop my fruit from sinking to the bottom?

To make sure sweet fruit is in every bite, toss the fruit in a bowl with a scoop of flour. Mix until every piece is evenly coated.  Once coated, add the fruit to the mix, when the recipe requires it. The flour will help the fruit to stick to the batter and stop the fruit from sinking.

If the fruit is wet, drain excess liquid and dust with flour just before adding to the batter. The fruit on its own, when added to the batter, tends to sink to the bottom of the cake. When you dust the fruit with flour – this flour helps to hold onto the cake batter keeping it in place.  If you have soaked the fruit cake, you can drain the liquid, you can add the liquid in which the fruit was soaked to the batter separately. (unless you want to limit the quantity of alcohol or unless stated otherwise in the recipe), likewise, if you have opted for a quick fruit cake by and boiled the fruits with sugar & butter. HOWEVER, it is not necessary when making the Food Lover’s Market traditional fruit cake according to the tub instructions / on our website.

6. Prevent your fruitcake from burning

Wrap your baking tin in parchment paper, and then place a layer of paper on top of the mixture before baking. This helps the cake to bake evenly, and prevent it from overcooking.

Fruitcakes cook long and slow. This is why lining the baking pans on all sides is very important. This will prevent the outside from overcooking while the center is still cooking. Ensure oven temperature is low or at the temperature according to the recipe so that the batter will cook evenly without drying out the fruit. *Remember the high sugar fruits can burn easily.


Don’t forget to get your Festive Fruit Mix from Food Lover’s Market soon, to make your fruit cake. 

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