Thursday, December 12, 2013

Easy Christmas Fruit Cake in 3 Ways (Oven, Rice Cooker and Steamer)

Christmas is just around the corner, how is your preparation for this festive season? I am sharing with you a easy Christmas Fruit Cake that can be made in 3 ways - in the oven, in the rice cooker and in the steamer. And what's more, it doesn't require a cake-mixer, not even a handwhisk! Just boil, stir and bake or cook! So there is absolutely no reason for you not to make this cake, unless you don't have a liking for fruit cakes, even then this cake may change your perception of how a fruit cake would taste like, really. 

I happened to see this cake recipe on my FB feed a week ago and I have been thinking about it ever since. It was posted on the Joy Of Baking website and it came with a video. This is a British Christmas Fruit Cake which is meant to be baked in an oven. I thought, why not make it into a steamed cake or a rice cooker cake, so that people with no ovens can also make a good cake for Christmas? 

So that was I set out to do. I tried to look around for more steamed fruit cake recipes to have a rough gauge of the time required for such a fruit cake. After comparing with another 2 other recipes, one from Amy Beh and the other from Alex Goh, both of which stated a steaming time of 1.5 to 2 hours in a steamer, I estimated that I should at least cook for 1.5 hours in my 5.5 cup rice cooker. 

I was right, and after 90 min in the cooker, I had a beautiful Christmas Fruit Cake in front of me. Oh, did I tell you that I got a new singing Cuckoo last week? Not the singing bird, but a Korean Cuckoo rice cooker. But this cake was made using my old workhorse, little white Toshiba, which is now 100% dedicated to trying out new rice cooker cake recipes. 

According to Joy of Baking, this cake tastes even better as it ages with time. After cooling, you should wrap it up tightly in clingwrap and it is best eaten at least after 1 day. So I made it on Tues night, wrapped it up and left it at room temperature overnight and ate a few pieces on Wed and Thur and I still have some left for Fri. It is really rich, moist and quite heavy, and just a little piece will make you feel full. I like the soaked raisins and the flavour of the spices really brings out the best in the cake. If you like it laden with alcohol, you can lace the cake by drizzling a small spoonful of Brandy or Grand Marnier over the cake every day. 

[Important : I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do, and I would be happy if you could give credit where credit is due, and link back to this post if you do make this cake and share it on your blog or facebook. Remember plagiarism is not the best form of flattery.]

Recipe adapted from Joy Of Baking

180g light brown sugar
240ml water
55g butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon *
1/2 tsp ground cloves *
1/2 tsp ground ginger *
300g raisins

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
195g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted with flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g mixed candied peel, chopped

1. In a large saucepan or pot, add brown sugar, water, butter, spices and raisins and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let it boil for 5 min, then remove from heat and allow it to cool till lukewarm.

2. Stir into this mixture, the lightly beaten eggs, sifted flour + baking soda + baking powder, vanilla extract and mixed candied fruits. Mix gently with spatula or spoon until everything is well-mixed. For rice cooker, pour into the greased rice cooker pot and cook for 1.5 hours; For steaming, pour into a greased 18 20 cm or 7 inch round cake tin and steam over high heat for 1.5 hours; For baking in the oven, pour into a greased loaf pan (recommended 9 x 5 x 3 inch) and bake in a preheated oven at 350F or 180C for 50 to 65 min. When it is done, remove from rice cooker pot/steamer/oven and let it cool on wire rack. Cover with clingwrap and store for a few days before serving. This fruit cake can be frozen.

Diameter of cake is 14 cm at the base and 17 cm at the top. Height of cake is about 7 cm.
- The only major changes that I made to the recipe were to reduce the brown sugar from 210g to 180g, the addition of 1/2 tsp of baking powder, the omission of salt and changing the method from baking in oven to cooking in rice cooker, all else remained the same. I also cut down the amount of cinnamon and ginger from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp each, but this was a matter of personal preference.

- If you don't have either of the 3 spices or all 3, you may replace with 1.5 tsp of ground mixed spices. I didn't have ground ginger powder, so I replaced it with finely chopped fresh ginger. The ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger really adds an extra dimension of flavour to the cake, especially the cloves and ginger. Of course, you can adjust the amount and proportion of spices to your taste, by just adding a little in the beginning, then tasting the batter while cooking it on the stove, and adding more as you like.

- If using a rice cooker, cook for about 1 hour 30 min. Note that the cooking time will vary, depending on the brand, model, capacity and technology of your rice cooker. For mine, I pressed "Cook" a total of 6 times (8.30pm => 9.00pm => 9.17pm => 9.34pm => 9.51pm => 10.08pm), the first time took 30 min and the subsequent times took 17 min each. Pls take good care of your rice cooker and allow it to rest in between to prevent over-heating if it gets too warm. If you are not sure as to whether your rice cooker can be heated up for more than 1 hour, I would suggest either you make a smaller cake (say 3/4 of the ingredients) OR allow the rice cooker to rest in between, which means pressing "Cancel" and let it rest for 5 to 10 min before restarting "Cook", this should be done at half way or at 1 hour. I don't wish to be responsible for any damages to your rice cooker during the festive season. :p

- If using a steamer, steam at high heat for 1 hour 30 min +/- 10 min. Cover the top of the cake loosely with aluminium foil and allow enough space for the cake to rise. The water in the steamer must already be boiling before you put in the cake and if you need to add extra water, only add hot boiling water in the steamer. 

- If using an oven, bake in a greased loaf pan at 180C for 50-65 min. 

- Regarding the use of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and baking powder and whether they are interchangeable in this recipe, note that the original recipe (baked in the oven) only stated 1 tsp of baking soda, I added an extra 1/2 tsp of baking powder to make the cake rise better in the rice cooker as I don't like cakes which are too dense. You may choose to add only 1 tsp of baking soda as per the original baked recipe. For your info, baking soda is 4x the power of baking powder, and is only used in recipes that contain acidic ingredients, in this case raisins and mixed fruits. Too much baking soda can cause the cake to taste soapy. If you only have baking powder and no baking soda, do not attempt to use 4 tsp baking powder to substitute 1 tsp of baking soda (base on the logic that baking soda is 4x stronger), because too much baking powder not only causes the cake to become bitter-tasting, it will also cause the batter to rise rapidly and then collapse suddenly. In this case, you should add about 1.5 to 2 tsp of baking powder, that is if you don't have baking soda at home. But I would recommend adding the baking soda in this recipe as it will give a better rise for such a rich and dense cake.

If you are using self-raising flour, there is no need to add extra baking powder and salt since SR flour itself contains baking powder and salt. I omitted the addition of 1/2 tsp of salt simply because I forgot about it.

The total amount of raisins and mixed candied peel is 300 + 150 = 450g. Instead of 150g of candied peel, I added 75g of a mix of dried cranberries, cherries and orange peel and 75g of dried apricots. If you wish to add mixed nuts, you can substitute the candied peel with mixed nuts, but note that this cake should have more raisins than nuts as it is the soaked raisins which make the cake moist. You can add a mixture of light and dark raisins so that the cake would look prettier. Note that you should only soak the raisins, and not the candied peel or the nuts. 

PS: I must say that although I took great pains to test and try out each and every rice cooker cake recipe, I cannot be responsible for making sure that it will turn out well in each and every rice cooker, I never promise that and I never will. And since this is a cake that requires cooking for 90 min in the rice cooker, I wanna add an extra clause to say that I will not be responsible if anything happens to your rice cooker during or after baking this cake, in case I get blamed (I sometimes get nasty comments) for causing accidents in the kitchen. =)

I am linking this post to Baby Sumo's Christmas Recipes Collection 2013 hosted by Yen from Eat Your Heart Out.


  1. I must give this a try. It looks so tasty! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Myriam,
      My hubby said "het smaakt een beetje als peperkoek", but more moist and delicious!

    2. Hi Miss B, I just made this fruit cake, in the oven, with self-raising flour. It really is very moist because of all the raisins and other candied fruits. It's good but heavy!

    3. Hi Myriam,
      Yes, it is rich and moist but heavy, just like a christmas fruit cake. Let it cool down and wrap it up with clingwrap, it will taste even better after 1 or 2 days. :)

  2. this is interesting... fruit cake with rice cooker! love the twist

  3. Ms B, Mary Morris here. Your cake looks just like it was baked! Was planning to have just banana cake and choc cake for Christmas to give my neighbours. Have a few banana trees fruiting in my garden, so no need to buy any!! Will definitely try out this fruit cake as soon as time permits. Thanks

    1. Hi Mary Morris,

      I have never made a christmas fruit cake before, this is my first time. I initiated the search for this cake recipe because you requested for one and I was also keen to try it out. Hope you like it !

      By the way, your neighbours are really lucky to receive cakes from you for Christmas!

  4. Hi Miss B, thanks for the rice cooker fruit cake recipe. I am excited and am going to "bake" it this weekend.
    I am using the same toshiba rice cooker (5.5 cup) too. Since the Toshiba cooker has a steam function which you can set a maximum of 60 mins, wouldn't it be simpler to set the cooking time to 60 mins with the steam function, followed by 30 mins after the 60 mins is up? Is there a difference between using the steam function and cook function?

    1. Hi Anne,
      For the steam function, my understanding is, you need to put water inside, and you need to put your cake batter in a cake tin, and it has to be a very small cake tin in order to fit into the 5.5 cup Toshiba. I have not tried using the steam function to bake a cake inside, whether it is with or without a cake tin. Moreover, the steam function need at least 10 to 15 min to warm up before it will start counting down, so the actual time will be longer.
      This "cook" function works fine for me, unless you want to help me test out the steam function? My Toshiba is spoilt and I can't do any rice cooker cakes until next Feb at least.

    2. Hi Anne & Miss B,

      I have a similar Toshiba rice cooker except mine has soup/baking selection. Since it put baking and soup under the same selection, perhaps you can try using the soup function on your rice cooker.

    3. Hi Syl,
      No, I'm afraid you can't use soup function for this. Soup function is like slow-cook, the heat is very mild. This cake needs high heat for 1.5 hours, maybe if you use bake bake function, it will be slightly less than 1.5 hrs. Perhaps you can try and let us know. Thanks.

    4. Hi Miss B,

      Just bake the fruit cake this afternoon using the bake function. I set to max of 60min, let it rest for 5 min then followed by 30min. The cake turns out well. Maybe I shall test if less time is needed for my next bake. =)

      The soup function is on the same tab as bake (baking/soup) on my rice cooker so I tot it's interchangeable. But oh well, I am not an expert on my rice cooker. I just follow your recipe and instructions like a dummy. haha

  5. Hi Ms B,
    If I want to soak the raisins with rum, do I still need to boil it with the butter, water, sugar and spices?
    Or I just add the soaked raisins after the mixture has cooled then follow by egg, flour and the rest of the ingredients? Cos I'm not sure if it can be done this way.

    1. Hi Val,
      You can add the soaked raisins to the boiled mixture later. But since your raisins are already soaked, you may need to reduce the water amount a little, by the amount of rum that you add.

    2. Hi Ms B,
      Okay.. Thanks for your advice!
      Have a great day ahead :)

  6. Hihi Miss B

    A thousand thanks for your recipe!! I've always wanted to make a X'mas fruit cake but don't have an oven. Your post is like a dream come true to me!!
    Juz a question, what is the room temperature in which you place the finished cake? Because mine is like 30 degrees celsius, I suspect it's better I rest my baked cake in the fridge.. Please advise, thanks!


    1. Hi sy,
      My room temp is always around 20 degrees celsius. I'm not sure if the cake will turn hard or become less moist if u put it in the fridge. It's better if you cover it completely with clingwrap to prevent loss of moisture.

  7. Hi Miss B, thanks for your yummy Christmas fruit cake. I steamed it for 1 hour and 10mins. The outcome was great :)

    1. Hi Summer,
      Thanks for your feedback. Glad that you made it successfully in a steamer too. What is the size of your cake tin and did you steam over high heat? Thanks.

    2. I used 8 inch round pan and yes I steamed over high heat :)


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