Fruit cake is a sweet, filling and delicious dessert that goes well with a cup of tea, after a meal and as a celebration cake. For such a versatile baked product, you would think that us bakers would have gotten it down to a T. But so many people still struggle to get a moist fruit cake and end up with something much drier than they had imagined.
There are a few ways that you can improve the quality of your fruit cake and make sure that it stays moist. After all, there is nothing worse than biting into a crumbly, overly dry bit of fruit cake; even all the tea in China couldn’t quench your thirst after that!
In this guide, I’ll be talking you through what to do to keep your fruit cake moist as well as giving you some handy tips on making an overall excellent fruit cake.
Why Does Fruit Cake Get So Dry?
If you really want to make sure that you don’t end up with a dry fruit cake, then it’s important to understand why this happens in the first place.
Let me start by saying that fruit cake is notorious for drying out so even if you’ve gone through several trial and errors, don’t beat yourself up if you still have a way to go.
One of the most common reasons that a fruit cake will dry out is because it has been overcooked. This usually happens because the baker has turned the oven up too high. The key to a moist fruit cake is making sure that you use the correct temperature and don’t exceed the cooking time.
It’s also imperative that you measure out the ingredients correctly. If you put in too much fruit then this will result in the cake not holding together due to a lack of batter. On the other hand, you might end up adding too much sugar which can cause the cake to crumble when you cut it.
How Can I Stop My Fruit Cake From Being Dry?
As I’ve mentioned, there’s a huge degree of trial and error when it comes to baking fruit cake. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to stop the cake from being dry. Once you get this down to an art, you’ll be renowned for making the moistest, most delicious fruit cake; and that really is something of an achievement!
Brush The Cake
One of the most common ways to ensure a moist fruit cake is to brush the cake with milk or water. You’ll do this with a pastry brush which you’ll use to simply brush the liquid onto the top of the cake. If you’re working with a fruit cake that has already gone a little dry or even stale, this is a method that works well.
It’s a matter of personal opinion whether you use water or milk but most would agree that milk gives the cake a little extra boost of moisture so is usually the better choice.
Once you have applied the milk or water, you will need to put the cake into the oven for around fifteen minutes at around 180ºC. The result will be a cake that is much more moist and has a nice crisp on the top.
However, you need to be really careful when doing this as you don’t want to risk overcooking the cake. This will remove all of your hard work. The cooking time will depend on factors such as how dry the cake is, the size of the cake and its thickness so just keep an eye on it.
Wrap Your Cake
Traditionally, fruit cakes are wrapped in an alcohol cloth to ensure they last as long as possible But this notion of wrapping the cake can also be used when it is fresh out of the oven and will help to retain a lot of the moisture.
You’ll need to use a towel which you’ll drape over the top of the fruit cake. Make sure that you leave the cake in the pan and that the entire top is covered. If you find that your fruit cake usually comes out of the oven already dry then this is a great method to counteract that problem.
The reason that this works so well is that, as steam escapes from the cake as it cools, it has nowhere to go other than back into the cake. This means that your fruit cake will be filled with moisture that would have otherwise evaporated into thin air. Not only this, but since the cake will be much more moist, it’ll also be softer which makes it generally more pleasant to eat.
Use Wine For Your Fruit Cake
If you’re anything like me then there’s never a bad excuse to add a dash of wine to a recipe! Where fruit cake is concerned, this is a brilliant option as it can breathe new life into an otherwise dry and crumbly piece of fruit cake. A lot of people rely on this method and it will vastly improve the quality and taste of your cake.
Keep in mind that dessert wine is much better for this as it is markedly sweeter and compliments the cake better. That said, some people will use brandy, rum or other spirits. It’s really down to personal taste.
You can afford to be pretty generous with the amount of wine you pour over your fruit cake; the more you use, the more moist it will be.
If you don’t drink alcohol or aren’t keen on the taste of dessert wine, you might choose to use something like cream which can also inject a little moisture back into the cake.
Make Sure The Fruit Is Moist
The final thing that you should do to make sure your fruit cake stays moist and delicious is to soak your fruit. Now, this only applies if you are using dried fruits in the recipe as fresh fruit will already contain a lot of moisture.
However, since dried fruits are…well, dry, they aren’t going to help with this problem. But by soaking them in water for an hour to two, you will help to eliminate the issue before it has even started.
It’s quite difficult to bake the perfect fruit cake and one of the issues that a lot of people face is that the cake ends up being too dry and crumbly. In fact, this is such a common problem that fruit cake has gotten something of a name for itself as being dry and unpleasant.
But when it is made properly and kept moist, it’s a delicious dessert. There are ways to ensure the cake doesn’t lose moisture during and just after the cooking process but you can also revive dry fruit cake using products like water, milk and even wine.