Full of Christmas flavours, my delicious, warmly spiced Brandy and Mincemeat Cake is a lighter alternative to fruit cake that is perfect for any occasion. Even folks who aren’t fans of traditional fruit cake (like me!) love this easy to make cake. And while it will keep for up to five days and the flavours do deepen with keeping, this isn’t the sort of Christmas cake you have to make weeks in advance.
History of Brandy and Mincemeat Cake
I have been making Brandy and Mincemeat Cake for years, and first blogged it way back in 2009. Brandy and Mincemeat Cake has always been delicious – but last year I’ve adjusted the spices to give it even more flavour.
I’ve also changed the pan I bake it in. For years I used an eight inch round pan to make this cake, but last year I decided to bake the mixture in a 13 x 9 inch pan and serve it cut in squares. I baked it for about five minutes less and it worked really well. I’ve since used an 8 inch square pan very successfully too.
What is Mincemeat?
While individual recipes may vary, mincemeat is a mixture of currants, raisins, sugar, apples, candied peel, spices and suet (a solid, shredded fat) all cooked together. Sometimes brandy, rum or other wines or spirits are added for flavour. More recently, cranberries or dried apricots may also be included. Mincemeat is a very traditional ingredient here in England and we’ve been using it in cooking and baking since the Tudor times.
Mincemeat does not contain any meat, although it does contain a shredded solid form of fat called suet. Some mincemeat contains beef suet, other varieties use vegetarian suet. While I can buy jars of mincemeat easily in any grocery store here in England, I know it can be harder to source if you live in North America. If you can’t find mincemeat near you, click here for an easy recipe from Jean at Delightful Repast. There is also a vegetarian sugar and suet free recipe from Vicky at Gluten Free SCD and Veggie.
Tips for Making Brandy and Mincemeat Cake
You can use a traditional dried fruit mixture that you buy in the supermarket, or mix your own with your favourite dried fruits. Sultanas and chopped dried apricots make a great combo but I have also used raisins or sultanas on their own very successfully.
Dark rum or whiskey work well in place of brandy, but please don’t skimp on the alcohol as it is what makes this cake so deliciously moist. If you need an alcohol free cake, you could substitute orange juice for the booze.
If you are using alcohol it’s really nice to soak the fruit for a few hours if you can, stirring it from time to time, however I’ve been known to only leave the dried fruit soaking for about half an hour and the cake still tastes lovely.
Use unrefined icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) for the glaze if possible. It gives a really lovely colour to the cake.
Keep Brandy and Mincemeat Cake covered, at room temperature for three to five days. It’s one of those wonderful cakes that gets even more delicious a day or so after it is made.
I like to serve Brandy and Mincemeat Cake on its own with a cup of tea or coffee, or as a more substantial dessert with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.
Mincemeat and Brandy Cake – Printable Recipe
- For the cake:-
- 1 cup mixed dried fruit, chopped if in large pieces
- 6 tablespoons brandy
- 1¾ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup mincemeat
- For the topping:-
- 2 tablespoons demerera or turbinado sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- For the glaze:-
- 1 cup of icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), unrefined if possible
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water
- Put the dried fruit in a bowl and pour the brandy over top. Stir to mix and cover with some Saran wrap or cling film. Leave for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours, stirring occasionally, so the alcohol can soak into the fruit.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch pan with butter.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Cream the butter or sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl with a spatula and beating well after each addition.
- Beat in the flour and spice mixture, a little at a time.
- Add the mincemeat and mix until combined.
- Remove the bowl from the electric mixer and use a wooden spoon to fold in the mixed dried fruit, along with any remaining brandy in the bowl.
- Put the batter in the prepared pan, spreading it out to the edges with a spatula. It may look like there isn't enough batter to fill the pan, but if you coax the batter to the edges of the pan it fills it nicely.
- Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the batter.
- Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before carefully removing from the pan. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
- To make the glaze, add the water to the icing sugar a little at a time, until a smooth, pourable consistency is reached.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cake.
- Allow the glaze to set before cutting into squares to serve.