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Here in Britain it's traditional to have a rich fruitcake for Christmas, and these cakes are traditionally baked a month or two ahead of time and kept wrapped in brown paper/in airtight tins.

All of the recipes I have seen include some form of alcohol (brandy, sherry) used, as a liquid for the fruit to soak in and as liquid to be poured into the cake while it's resting before Christmas.

I'm tee total, and the taste of alcohol in food always makes me feel ill. I don't usually eat Christmas cake because of this, because I can always taste the alcohol. I want to make my own cake this year, but omit the alcohol.

I've see some recipes that say to soak the fruit in orange juice instead of brandy. Would this be an acceptable substitute liquid to feed the cake with, or would I just end up with orange flavoured fruitcake?

Should I just leave out feeding the cake at all? Does the alcohol act as a preservative for the cake? Should I leave the cake baking to the last minute, as I won't be using the alcohol?

Thak in advance for anyone that can help me!


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 9th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
The point of soaking the fruit is usually to make them really soft and to make the dough a little more pliable. Don't bake the cake longer, the alcohol does nothing to conserve the cake, it's all about the aroma. Liquor aroma tends to increase after time which makes the cake very aromatic, but since you won't have that, you don't need to make the cake so much in advance. A few days should be enough.
It depends on the recipe but you can certainly exchange juice for the wine to soak the fruits. I find cherry juice to fit quite nicely with the added bonus that it's not as sweet as many other juices.

I guess if I were you, I'd bake the cake not too many days before you want to eat it, use a juice of your choice for the fruit and use rum flavor* for the cake batter. If the batter is a bit dry, add some water or milk to it to make up for the missing alcohol.

*You should get that at the bakery section of your supermarket, there are versions that are completely alcohol free.
Oct. 9th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
i usally soak mine in apple juice or apple cider because i hate the taste of citrus in baked goods. I don't let it sit as long because the alcohol acts as a preservative. A spiced apple cider would add depth to the cake. now i think i need to make one lol
Oct. 9th, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
This, sort of. I use hard cider--the real stuff, not Mike's or whoever--to soak my puddings in. I find that the cider adds some depth of flavor, but the little bit of alcohol in the non-fortified stuff is unnoticeable.
Oct. 9th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
There's a recipe in this Month's Good Food that suggests using strong tea if you don't drink alcohol :)
Oct. 9th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
The alcohol does inhibit mold growth- the juice would encourage it. I'm fairly sure that if you tried this for even a week, you'd end up with green cake.
I've seen recipes for a soaked cake that offer strong tea as an alternative to the liquor for soaking, to be poured on while the cake is still warm, and it works fine, but you'd really need to bake it fairly late and keep it in the fridge if you want edible cake.
Oct. 9th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
Personally I have the opposite tastes, and put as much alcohol in there as I possibly can :)

BBC website on the subject
"The best fruit cakes are matured for at least a month and moistened or ‘fed’ from time to time with alcohol such as sherry, Madeira or brandy. Fruit cakes made solely from dried fruit will keep for several weeks and up to a month; fruit cakes containing both dried and fresh fruit will go mouldy more quickly. Fruit cakes that have been matured and fed with alcohol can be stored for a year or more"
It doesn't have a recipe, unfortunately.
Wikipedia suggest that in Canada, leaving out the alcohol is normal.

Googling further, I find this:
which quite apart from the range of cake tins it'll fit, only adds a couple of tablespoons of brandy at the end, so you can regard that as optional.
Oct. 9th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
The alcohol acts as a preservative in the cake, which is why they can be made months in advance and stored until christmas. If you were to make a cake 2 months ahead of time and feed it with anything but alcohol, you'd end up with a giant mouldy mess. I'd just bake one the day before you want to eat it and give it a good dousing with simple syrup for a similar effect.
Oct. 9th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
Find a recipe you like (although I'm sure you can find some by googling alcohol-free fruitcake that are alcohol-free by design). If there is alcohol in the dough, substitute an equal amount of juice (if the recipe calls for an orange flavored liqueur, use orange juice, if it calls for brandy I'd probably use cranberry or white grape, and if it calls for rum, I'd probably use apple or white grape.

Soaking the fruit, you can soak in juice or plain water.

Don't bake more than a few days ahead and keep it in the fridge. If you want to get the same moistening that "feeding" would get, I would spritz with either juice or a simple syrup.
Oct. 9th, 2011 07:24 pm (UTC)
and/or google non-alcoholic fruitcake. I came up with a bunch of hits when I searched.
Oct. 9th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
This is a case where you don't want to "substitute." It's best to just find a recipe that doesn't call for it (it won't be "traditional") and follow that. You're certainly not the only one in this position and I'm sure you'll find something that tastes great for you.
Oct. 9th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
I'm told that it hasn't been that many years that alcohol's been vaguely affordable enough here in Britain for this to be something the masses could do; ask grandmothers and great-grandmothers for recipes, because they would be the ones who grew up making alcohol-free fruitcakes. Alcohol-soaked fruitcakes are traditional, but it's a new tradition.
Oct. 9th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
Soak the fruit in tea, that's an Irish trick. I would just make it much closer to the time and not feed it at all.
Oct. 9th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
When I make my cakes, I always leave one un-boozified and we eat it over the few days after baking. It's different, but still really good. I'd just soak the fruit in whatever juice you think would be good (orange, cherry, or black currant I think would be my top choices) and make it the day before you intend to eat it. (or day of. Mmmmm....warm chewy goodness.)
Oct. 11th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
My great-grandmother's fruitcake recipe calls for orange juice instead of alcohol of any sort. I don't have access to the recipe at the moment, but I've made the cake several times, and I do recall that much.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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