Kristang Rich Christmas Fruitcake — Whip It UP!

Kristang Rich Christmas Fruitcake (Kek Fruita)

By Chef Melba Nunis, The Majestic Malacca

You may think it’s too early for Christmas cake, but the lights are already up along Orchard Road! And it takes time to make a good, rich, tasty fruitcake.

This Kristang fruitcake is perfumed with several essences, each adding a different nuance to its ultimate flavour that is further boosted with alcohol during the curing process. The recipe was passed down by Chef Melba’s grandmother.


Total time: 6 hours
Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: $50
Servings: 10-12 persons

A: Fruit & Nut Mix

1.3kg mixed dried fruit
170g chopped almonds
85g crystallised ginger, chopped
1½ teaspoons vanilla essence
1½ teaspoons rose essence
1½ teaspoons almond essence
1½ teaspoons lemon essence
¼ cup brandy
55g plain flour


B: Cake Batter

500g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
450g butter, room temperature
225g caster sugar
225g brown sugar
10 eggs
2 tablespoons black treacle
2 tablespoons golden syrup


C: To Cure Cake 

¾ cup brandy or rum, optional



1. In an airtight container, combine A ingredients. Store overnight in the fridge.

2. Grease and line 6 (18 cm x 10 cm) loaf tins or 2 (25cm) round cake tins, depending on what you use. Place a bowl of water on the bottom of the oven. Preheat the oven to 160°C  for 15 minutes

3. Sift dry ingredients under B: flour, salt, mixed spice, ground nutmeg and cinnamon into a bowl. Set it aside.

4. For the cake batter, using an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars (white and brown) together until light and fluffy.

5. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the treacle and golden syrup while beating until it is blended in.

6. Add 2 tablespoons of flour mixture to the fruit and nut mixture in order to loosen it, making it easier to incorporate the remaining flour mixture. Fold this combined mixture into cake batter. Mix well. Divide equally among prepared cake tins.

7. Bake for 15 minutes at 160°C.

8. Lower oven temperature to 100ºC. Bake for 3 to 4 hours, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

9. Remove from the oven. Using a pastry brush, brush with brandy or rum until all the alcohol is used up. Set aside to cool.

10. Wrap cooled cakes with aluminium foil. Store in airtight container for 3 weeks to 1 month before serving.

TECHNIQUE: Bake it at least 3 weeks up to 1 month ahead.  Brush cake with brandy or rum; the alcohol flavours the cake as well as extends its shelf life – this process is called curing.

Chef Melba Nunis is author of two cookbooks: A Kristang Family Cookbook and Everything Kristang. The Kristang community of Portuguese, Dutch and Asian ancestry resides mainly in Malaysia (Malacca) and Singapore.

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