Category Archives: English-Style Fruitcake

Fruitcake, Day 2

Another day where I meant to post more, but didn’t. I’m in a new work situation, you see, and still trying to achieve a state that one might call “normalcy”. That of course is no excuse — fruitcake makers await! So let’s get down to it.

Start by whisking together your dry ingredients.

Then cream (as best you can) your butter and sugar. I do it with a wooden implement since it helps me better get into that Old World spirit.

Add your eggs one or two at a time and beat until you have a soupy mess that looks like this:

Add it to the dry ingredients…

…and stir until you have a thick batter. Don’t worry that it’ll be too thick for a fruitcake, because once you add in your fruit and nut mixture, it’ll loosen back up again.

See?

Now then. Taking your prepared pan, put in half the batter (a quarter if you’re doing the full recipe).

Mine came out to 2 3/4 pounds per loaf (that’s serious cake, man).

Bake as instructed until the fruitcakes look like well-fired fruit and nut bricks. Like so:

After they’re cooled down, it’s time for the fun part. Grasping the nearest spritz bottle full of rum — and who doesn’t have one of those lying around? — spritz the loaf liberally on all sides.

Swaddle in a double layer of cheese cloth to keep the loaf from sticking to the outer layer of foil…

…then apply the outer layer of foil.

Ta-da! A fruitcake ready for cellaring. Of course you can also put it in the fridge if you want, but a basement is traditional and still best. If you fear rodentia or other types of cake-eating vermin, you can put the cakes in a plastic tupperware container. That’ll have’em stymied. Check the cakes every other day or so to check for drying (you don’t want that) and spritz and rotate as you see fit. See you on Christmas Eve, boys!

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Fruitcake, Day 1

Now there are the makings of one fine fruitcake (actually two, I cut the recipe in half). You may notice there are cranberries in there. The reason for that is I couldn’t find any figs at Kroger yesterday afternoon. I could have gone somewhere else, but I’d already spent enough time in the supermarket. The first Wednesday of each month is old folks day, you see, and the place is packed with cranky octogenarians bumping their carts into one another. Slowly. It took me almost half an hour to navigate around them all to pick up what I needed for this shot. Fortunately none of them could figure out the self check-out computers, so I was out of there in a flash after that. Still, I’d had enough. And anyway, you think Medieval fruitcake makers were choosy? They took what they could get, bub, and so did I. Anyway cranberries add a nice color.

So then, once you’ve got your fruits and nuts measured, your zest zested and your spices in, pour in the wet ingredients…

…and stir to combine.

Easy. Wrap and let macerate overnight. What’s the difference between macerating and marinating? The former involves sweet ingredients and the latter, savory. That’s all I know.

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Old School Fruitcake

You know you’ve got hold of a good, solid traditional fruitcake recipe when the ingredients list is as long as your arm. These recipes date back hundreds of years in America, but their pedigree goes back to at least the High Middle Ages, when European bakers emptied their pantries of every last good thing they could possibly think of, and put them all into one giant, dense, dark cake: candies, fruits, sweeteners and spices of all kinds. That, my friends, is when you knew it was a party. Is this my old man’s famous fruitcake recipe? Of course not, I don’t even know it. This, however, is a very close match:

Day one:

2 cups golden raisins
2 cups currants
2 cups dried apricot halves
2 cups dried figs, halved
2 cups pitted dates
4 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped pecans
Zest of 3 oranges
Zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup molasses
2 cups brandy (or rum)
1/2 cup orange juice

Combine all the dried fruits, nuts, zest ginger and spices in a large bowl (my father uses a roasting pan). Toss well to mix. Add molasses, brandy (or rum) and OJ and mix well. Cover the mixture and let it macerate at room temperature overnight.

Day two:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 lb butter, softened
3 cups dark brown sugar
8 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 275. Spray the inside of four 9″x5″x3″ loaf pans with nonstick spray and line with wax paper or parchment. Spray again with cooking spray

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. Separately, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light in color. Add eggs one or two at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter over the fruit and mix well. Divide the mixture among the pans and bake for 2 hours. They’re done when a toothpick or sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely on a rack, dribble more brandy (or rum) on top (or spritz with a spray bottle) then wrap each individual loaf, first in cheese cloth, then in foil. Every 2-3 days inspect the loaves. Check for dryness and spritz with booze as needed (hey, it’s medicinal). Do this for a minimum of two weeks, over which time the cake’s flavor with develop enormously.

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