We can all agree on one thing – it takes a long time to prepare a proper Christmas fruit cake! Some holiday pros begin making their Christmas puddings as far as 4 months out. Today we look at the whys and hows, and more importantly, if you’re like us and the boat has left the dock without you, we share the local businesses near you who are dishing up the best holiday puddings.
If you’re still catching your breath after the 4 months part, we sympathize. Let’s ease you into some basic fruitcake 101 together to help you get a handle on everything. First things first, the longer the cake rests, the more juicy and flavourful the final product is going to be. Ever had a slice of a dry and tasteless Christmas cake? We’re sorry to say this is because the creator either started too late, they “dropped the alcohol” layering, or perhaps a combination of both. This coating step must occur once a week, like clockwork, otherwise, the cake comes out dry.
Various alcohols can be used to coat the Christmas fruit cake including rum, brandy, sherry, and even boiled cider. We’re not going to lie, this is one of the best parts of the cake. Alcohol-free versions of fruit cakes do exist, in their place we see juices and sugar syrups, but this forfeits the fragrant and warming effects of the alcoholic ingredients synonymous with cold winters. And generally, adding ingredients like rum or brandy is what your grandparents would have recommended!
During the holidays, it’s common for us to consume a little too much; what with the options of turkey, roast beef, mashed potatoes, glazed ham… Another benefit of having plum pudding is that it has a long shelf life. If you’re too full and need to wait until Boxing Day (or sometimes New Year’s Day) to tuck into the Christmas pudding, it will be there for you. You see, the dried fruits in it equate to a lower water content, i.e., a boring environment for bacteria who typically love moisture. Keeping the cake tightly wrapped will also encourage the bacteria to celebrate their own little bacteria Christmas elsewhere.
Now we did mention figgy pudding before. Yes, the one mentioned in the Christmas carol. But what about its sweet cousin, the figgy duff? A very acceptable Christmas dessert option, those from Newfoundland and Labrador will know exactly what we’re talking about. For those unfamiliar with this quintessential Canadian dessert, imagine a boiled/steamed fruit cake with breadcrumbs, brown sugar, molasses, and spices. The “figgy” part refers to the raisins that are essential ingredients in the Maritime cake that can actually be consumed at any time during the year.
If you’ve left it too late and haven’t begun to make yours yet, never fear. You can find your own slice of comfort from one of these local bakeries near you. They may use different names like plum pudding, figgy pudding, or Christmas fruit cake, but the end result is the same: a warm feeling in your tummy that can only mean one thing – it’s the holidays!