When I was a child my mom would make a fruitcake with the "candied" fruit from the grocery store. Lets face it I hated it. It looked so delicious and it was always a dry disappointment. As I got older I started reading the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency and the Orphan Director always bribed the husband with big slices of delicious fruitcake. I thought maybe there is a decent edible fruit cake out there. So I turned to my trusty Fanny Farmer Baking Book. But the fruit cake recipe was too bitter and had an overwhelming flavor of molasses. Not a flavor Americans encounter outside of molasses cookies, and it has hints of bitterness, that lets face it in our fast food culture of "sweet, salty and savory" is not widely embraced. So I modified it. Over the years I have adjusted the recipe that follows. Using more widely recognizable flavors has caused this cake to be a gift people ask for at Christmas. I have had numerous requests for the recipe so here it is, in its current state. I'm a very flexible cook, and I swap out ingredients at will... it's the secret to keeping y'all on your toes.
I'd place this on an advanced level of cooking, mainly because it takes a lot of time and prep before and after the cakes are baked to have them come out perfect.
Makes four 9” X 3” pans 8-9 mini loaves
This can be eaten the day you bake it, but it tastes best if allowed to age at least 2 weeks. This batter is just enough volume to hold all the add in’s, so don’t be surprised when putting it together. This does take days to prepare plan accordingly. And as Dr. Strange Warns Read ALL the Instructions BEFORE beginning!
At least one day before you begin in a large covered bowl place the following:
1 1/2 cup Golden Raisins
1 1/2 cup Raisins
1 1/2 cup Craisins or pitted cut Prunes
2 cups Apricot halves quartered
1 cup dried Currents
1 cup dried Cherries or quartered Dates
1 cup dried Blueberries or figs halved
(If you can’t get a variety just makes sure the dried fruit volumes match. I find the cake is perceived as more tasty when figs and dates are removed. We don’t eat them often and people can’t recognize the flavors.)
Grated zest of 3 Oranges
Grated zest of 3 Lemons
Grated zest of 3 Tangerines.
1 cup Candied Ginger chopped. * see shopping list
Cover with Honey mixture and
2 cups Brandy (buy a mid-shelf brandy not a bottom shelf brandy).
1/2 cup orange liqueur
2 tablespoons light molasses in the bottom of a 1 cup measure, then fill the measure with honey. You can adjust this but I find more than 2 tablespoons of molasses overpowers American tastebuds and adds to much bitterness. So just a hint works great.
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Allspice or Cloves
1 teaspoon Mace or Nutmeg (if possible grate this fresh.)
Sprinkle top with spices
Blend fruit mixture and set aside for a minimum of 24 hours.
I soak my fruit for 2-3 days. It really plumps up the fruits.
Before you begin to make the batter prep loaf pans with buttered and then floured parchment paper. Leave some height to the paper because the cake will rise and this will guarantee your ability to remove the cake from the pans. Preheat oven to 275° F
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 pound Butter softened to room temperature
3 cups Light Brown sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
Take the first cup of flour and shake it over the fruit and blend into fruit.
In a bowl mix together the flour baking powder and baking soda and salt, set aside.
In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together, add the vanilla and beat till incorporated, then slowly add the eggs two at a time till it is blended. (If you are like me and forgot to add the honey mix to the fruit add it in at this time.) then add in the flour mixture a cup at at time (approximate), if you are using Kitchen Aid pop a towel over the bowl to reduce the flour flinging out of the bowl. Once it is well incorporated get out your Largest mixing bowl, It has to be the size of a dish tub. If you don’t have a Huge Bowl…use your dish tub.
Blend the fruit, nuts and batter together.
4 cups Walnuts
2 cups Pecans (blanched almonds work as well)
making sure all the add-ins are coated with batter. Fill pans till they are about 1/2 inch from top of pan.
Bake for 2 hours.
You can use any size pan this will make about 9 mini loafs and a huge number of cupcake size. if you use a different size pan you will have to adjust the time. For cupcakes start checking them after 45 min. For mini loaf pans check after 70 minutes. When I do this recipe I double it but then my oven is packed to the hilt. The top and outside cakes will be ready after 2 hours but the middle bottom cakes take 30-45 more minutes to finish. You know the cakes are ready when a skewer is comes out clean of batter (fruit residue is ok) allow to cool for 30 minutes. When being a purist you should have some pre-washed pre-cut muslin cloth, remove the paper from the cakes carefully, they are quite delicate at this time! Re-wrap them in the cloth, pour 1 jigger (1/2 shot for min loaves) of Bourbon (or brandy, or rum or whiskey, well you get the idea) on the cloth (or directly on the cake). Wrap well in foil. Leave on counter for up to a month (or if you are paranoid freeze), add more alcohol after a week or 2 for a more powerful cake. Best if eaten after 2 weeks. Cut with a serrated bread knife to serve. If your in a hurry, you can just leave them in the disposable pans with the paper on them and let the recipient deal with it.
This is what I usually need to purchase to make the cakes.
Craisins or Pitted Prunes
Cherries or quartered Dates
Blueberries or figs halved
*Candied/crystalized Ginger this can be super expensive if bought in the baking section of the grocery store If possible order online (nuts.com) or buy from places like Whole foods/ Sprouts/Trader Joe’s where they sell it in bulk for 6-7$ a pound instead of 5.50$ an ounce in a tiny spice bottle. One bag is more than enough.
3 tangerines (cuties work!) (peel then scrape off and discard white pith from zest and chop)
Orange Liquor ( or Triple Sec)
Light brown sugar
Extra Eggs (I used my duck eggs so I don’t need to buy these.)