Christmas cake with a whiskey caramel sauce inside

This is Sofia's favourite Christmas cake − a recipe she discovered in The Australian Women’s Weekly decades ago, and has adapted over the years.

The family loves it − even her husband who generally dislikes any type of fruit cake can't resist this one. It's just so moist, dark and delicious.

Sofia usually makes two − a square one for gifts and general enjoyment leading up to Christmas (easier to divvie up into smallish portions), and a round one for that special Christmas treat on the big day!

Ingredients for two cakes

Whiskey caramel sauce

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 30g salted butter
  • ½ cup of whiskey

Cake

  • 500g sultanas
  • 375g currants
  • 375g raisins
  • 125g soft apricots (Egyptian)
  • 125g cranberries (pkt ones)
  • 250g prunes
  • 250g dates
  • 125g glace or ordinary pkt figs
  • 125g preserved or glace ginger
  • 125g mixed peel
  • 500g salted butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 10 eggs
  • 3 cups of sifted plain flour
  • 1 cup of sifted self raising flour
  • ¼ cup of whisky or brandy
  • 1 pkt coloured glace cherries
  • Blanched almonds 

Method 

Whisky caramel sauce 

  • Place sugar in a small heavy based saucepan over medium heat
  • Melt the sugar until it turns light brown. Do not stir!
  • Remove from heat, add butter and whiskey and return to heat
  • Stir over low heat until any pieces of toffee have melted. Do not allow to boil!

Cake 

  • Have butter and eggs at room temperature
  • Place sultanas, currants, raisins, peel and cranberries in a large bowl
  • Chop pitted prunes, dates, figs, apricots and ginger into the same size as the sultanas and add to the bowl
  • Add three tablespoons of whisky or brandy each day for three days, mixing in every day so that the alcohol soaks into the fruit
  • When fruit has completed soaking – stir in the whiskey caramel sauce
  • Beat butter (room temperature) until soft – add sifted brown sugar, beat until combined
  • Add eggs one at a time,beating each egg into the mixture before adding the next egg
  • Add this mixture to the fruit, mix well with clean hands until all is combined breaking any clumps of fruit
  • Gently mix in sifted flours – combine all ingredients well
  • Line base and sides of two deep 20cm square or two 23cm round cake tins with four sheets of baking paper, bring the paper 5cm above the top edge of the tin
  • Decorate the cakes with colourful glace cherries and blanched almonds to your liking
  • Bake in a slow oven for 3½ to 4 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when tested
  • When cooked remove from oven, brush top with ¼ cup of whisky or brandy, cover by folding the extra 5cm of baking paper over the cake, then cover cake tin with aluminium foil
  • Leave in tin until cold until next day
  • Day two, remove aluminium foil and baking paper, turn the cake over, brush (bottom side) with 2 tablespoons of brandy or whisky, rewrap with baking paper, place upside down in cake tin and replace aluminium foil
  • Day three, remove aluminium foil and baking paper, turn the cake over, brush (decorated side) with 2 tablespoons of brandy or whisky, wrap in several layers of plastic wrap, and place in an airtight container
  • Store in the refrigerator to keep fresh for longer – cake should last for at least three months

Sofia's tips and Christmas message 

  • Best not to sample the alcohol at every step if you prefer to be compos mentis at the end of the process!
  • Wrap left-over cake in lots of layers of plastic wrap and store it in the freezer for future treats.
  • Delicious re-heated in the microwave until warm and served with a runny custard, whipped cream or ice-cream.
  • May each and every one have a ‘Blessed’ Christmas. Enjoy!

Recipe and image source 

Recipe: Australian Women's Weekly 14 November 1976 with Sofia's own extras
Image: Phil Vickery's rich Christmas cake