Fruitcake at its best. Picture: courtney africa
A Christmas cake doesn’t have to be a brandy-soaked fruitcake made weeks in advance.

There are easier ways to wow your guests and still stick to the festive theme. 

Christmas cakes are an English tradition and during December, while we’re soaking up the sun here in the southern hemisphere, the north is usually covered in snow and experiencing dull, grey weather – hence the heavy use of spices and liquor, which is necessary and suits the climate of those countries. 
So, with our festive season being in summer, it’s the perfect excuse to add a pop of colour and jazz up the flavour of your cake by playing around with fruits that are in season.

Not everyone likes fruitcake, so a layered sponge or Christmas cookies are other great alternatives to add to the festive cheer. 

A quick scroll though #christmascakes on Instagram revealed that these cakes have taken on a new and more colourful form, with snowmen, reindeer chocolate cakes, mini-Christmas trees and even Christmas cakesicles (a cake in the form of a popsicle) all being popular. 

We asked chefs Mynhardt Joubert and Siphokazi Mdlankomo for their take on the Christmas cake trend and how we can include it into our menu. 

Christmas cakes are usually fruitcakes soaked in brandy and made weeks, if not months, in advance. Is this still the case?
Chef Siphokazi: Nowadays, people have busy lives and want to do quick and easy baking, so home-made Christmas fruitcakes are not the way to go unless you have a grandma at home who has the time to make it. 
Chef Mynhardt: Things have changed over the years and although it improves the taste it is now acceptable and very possible to 
bake a Christmas cake and eat 
it straight away. Our recipe is specially developed to do just that and is still very moist and flavourful.
How are Christmas cakes made and presented differently from the traditional cakes?  

Chef Siphokazi: I have noticed that people are more creative when it comes to cakes, like combining different flavours in one cake. And, not everyone likes fondant – some prefer naked cakes, for example.
Chef Mynhardt: There are so many different recipes and all are very special as each one is unique and tells its own story. I have even seen recipes for a white Christmas cake made with sultanas and almonds, and it sounds incredible. 

What other alternatives are there to traditional fruitcakes? 

Chef Siphokazi: I suggest people buy fruit mince pies, Christmas chocolate cake, gingerbread or Christmas cookies.

Chef Mynhardt: I would suggest that instead of buying, people get back into the kitchen 
and start baking again. We have  such a rich food history and all of us have memories of the holidays and baked goods from our moms and grannies. Dig out those special recipes and get baking. It is fun  for the whole family, the kids can   get involved and there is nothing quite like the feeling of putting 
out your own home-made cakes   and cookies.

Fruity Christmas Cake PICTURE: Danie Nel Photography

What’s your idea of a South African-style Christmas cake? 
 
Chef Siphokazi: A perfect cake would be a combination of milk tart and malva pudding. 
Chef Mynhardt: Moist, flavourful, not too dark, packed with whole green and red cherries, loads of nuts and soaked in lots of brandy – very much like the one I bake.