I hear you.
Fruitcake is awful. It’s a hard rock of weirdly colored candied fruits which doesn’t taste much like fruit. In addition, most commercial fruitcakes are sickeningly sweet. No one wants to make that!
But what if it wasn’t? What if fruitcake was a joyous celebration of dried fruits: pineapple, golden raisins, cranberries, along with pecans, candied ginger and delicate candied peel? What if the cake was moistened with apple brandy, heady with the taste of fall? Would you make it then?
Gather your fruits and nuts in a bowl and toss them together. If you like a bit more bite to your fruitcake, mix in 3 tablespoons of Calvados, or other brandy, cover it and let it sit overnight.
Prepare a baking tin by greasing it then lining it with parchment paper and greasing the paper.
Start with butter and sugar. Beat together until it is almost white and fluffy. Then beat it a little longer.
In order to lighten this fruit-laden cake we are going to add a lot of eggs. More eggs really than the butter and sugar mixture can easily hold without breaking (curdling).
Add the eggs slowly. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl until they have broken down enough that you can measure them out with a spoon. With the mixer going, add the eggs one tablespoon at a time waiting until each tablespoon has been incorporated until adding the next. Once you get to the last quarter of the beaten egg mixture, slow it down even more, adding the eggs one teaspoon at a time.
Chances are the mixture will break toward the end anyway. It’s okay if it does. It will come back together when you add the flour. Why, then, do we bother with adding the eggs so carefully? A cake made with unbroken batter will be somewhat lighter than one in which the eggs have separated out. If the batter does break, the later it breaks in the mixing the smaller the lumps will be.
When you add the flour (the next step) the batter should come back together.
Finally put the fruit into the batter and mix it well, breaking up any clumps of fruit. You may want to use your hands to do this.
After the cake is baked, prick it all over with a toothpick and pour two to three tablespoons all over the top. Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan.
I bet you think that’s it.
Well, it can be, if you want a dry fruitcake. But for a true fruitcake, you will need to feed it a little more brandy. Once a week to begin with and once a month after that. The cake can be stored for three or four months this way.
Take a piece of cheesecloth and soak in it two tablespoons of Calvados or brandy. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and spread the damp cheesecloth over it.
Wrap the cheesecloth tightly in the plastic wrap and cheesecloth.
Store it in a dark cabinet and feed it once a week until it is time to share it with friends and family. I hope this changes your mind about the dreaded holiday fruitcake!
BUILD A BETTER FRUITCAKE
For the Fruit
- ½ c chopped dried pineapple
- ½ c currants raisins or cranberries
- ½ c chopped candied ginger
- ¼ c chopped homemade mixed peel see note
- 1 c chopped pecans
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ¼ c apple brandy optional, see note
For the Batter
- 1 ¼ c flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp cloves
- ½ c butter softened
- 1/3 c light brown sugar
- 1/3 c sugar
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ c cider see note
- 3-6 tbsp apple brandy
Prep the Fruit
- Mix together all of the fruit together in a large bowl. If you are using the optional brandy, add it to the fruit, toss it well and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit overnight.
Make the Batter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8”x 5” loaf pan. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars by beating them together on high for 5-6 minutes. They should be very light and creamy.
- Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk them together well. With the mixer running on medium to medium high, add the eggs to the creamed butter one tablespoon at a time. Make sure each addition is thoroughly beaten in before adding the next one. When you get to the last quarter of the eggs whisk them in by teaspoonful. The mixture may break (or curdle) as you do this. Add the vanilla at the end.
- Mix together the flour, spices and baking powder. Add 1/3 of the flour along with 1/3 of the cider to the butter and eggs. Mix well. Repeat this two more times. Continue beating for one minute until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the fruits to the batter stirring to break up any clumps of fruit
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick and brush with brandy. Let the cake cool for another ten minutes then remove it from the pan and take off the paper. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.
- Once the cake has cooled, place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter that is large enough to wrap the cake. Soak a similar size piece of cheesecloth in 2 tablespoons of brandy and spread it out over the plastic wrap. Place the cake in the center of the cheesecloth and wrap it in the cheesecloth. Then wrap it in the plastic wrap.
- Store the fruitcake for up to three months, re-soaking the cheesecloth with brandy once a week for the first month and monthly after that.
If you don't have any homemade candied peel (mixed peel) subtitute in some apricots or dried oranges,
Apple Brandy is also known as Calvados. It is a strong brandy from France. Other brandys can be used, including Grand Marnier which is an ornge brandy. Bourbon or rum will also work. If you want a non-alcoholic fruitcake make a simple syrup of one part sugar to one part water, boiled briefly with a drop or two of a flavored extract for thje soaking liquid.
I used hard cider. Regualr cider or apple juice will work as well
I wonder if this should be started in August. ?????
FYI. Mayville’s football team is going to State and I read in the paper last night that City Hall was going to close at noon so everyone can attend the game.
You’ve gotta love Mayville. I
My mother used to make hers in early September. I always mean to but never really get to it that early! And yes, small towns are wonderful!