In my family, the fruit cake had always featured highly during Christmas and the Chinese New Year.
When my daughter was still in school, we had a practise of making goodies for all of her teachers for Christmas as well as a small token gift of appreciation to them.
This cupcake variation was conceived out of a wish to keep the tradition alive as well as making it small and easier for transportation. Having to ferry 10 goodie bags, gifts as well as the school bag meant down sizing.
The mixed fruits are usually pre-soaked, at least overnight. Although a common favourite was to soak the dried fruits in alcohol, I soaked mine in freshly squeezed orange juice. This meant that those who are not allowed alcohol because of religion, allergies or age could enjoy the fruit cake like anyone else.
1 3/4 cups plain / all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup (113g or 1 stick ) butter, softened
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark jam (optional)
2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup fruit mix, pre-soaked overnight or at least an hour before use
Decorations – silver dragees, large & mini hearts sprinkles
Pre-soaking the fruit mix:
- Place contents of a box of fruit mix into a container with a tight lid.
- Cut & squeeze one (1) orange.
- Pour the freshly squeezed orange juice into the fruit mix.
- Toss the fruit mix.
- Repeat tossing (just shake the container with the lid closed) every now and again so the fruits absorb the juice.
- Leave overnight.
- Preheat oven to 175ºC (350ºF). Prepare cupcake holders. If you are not using cupcake holders, you will need to grease the cupcake pan.
- Sieve the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder & soda) together. You can do this over a bowl or in a plastic bag
- Place the softened butter & brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat together till light & creamy.
- Add eggs, one at a time to the butter mix, beating after each addition.
- Add the vanilla essence & jam, if using.
- Now to add the flour & fruit mix, using slow speed or the ‘STIR’ speed of your mixer.
- Alternate between the flour & fruit mix being added in portions into the butter mix. This helps to even out the fruit in the batter.
- Scoop into cupcake holders to at least 2/3 full.
- Bake 15-18 minutes till cooked. Test if done with a skewer poked into the middle of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, it is cooked. If not, bake for additional 5 minutes, test for doneness.
- Remove and cool on a baking rack.
Time to prepare the buttercream.
60g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar, sieved
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Green food colouring
Beat butter & icing sugar together till it is light & creamy.
Add vanilla essence & beat another 2 minutes or so until the mixture is smooth & fluffy.
Add 2-3 drops of green food colouring in the beginning. Add more to increase intensity of colour as required.
Note: Do not beat the icing too long as it will turn watery.
Ready to ice the cupcakes!
When the cupcakes are completely cooled, place into holiday motif holders (the one in the photo is actually an ice-cream cup!) before icing.
Spoon the icing into a prepared icing bag with the icing tip of choice. Ice the cupcakes in a swirl to build into a Christmas tree shape. Top the tree with a large heart, sprinkle some mini hearts on the tree. Place dragees on the ‘branches’ of the tree.
When all the cupcakes are iced, leave to ‘harden’ before bagging. Otherwise, they are ready to eat. Enjoy!