It’s a bit early for the holidays, but if you want good fruit cake in time for Christmas, ’tis the season. When Lloyd first suggested that we make fruit cake several years ago, I thought he was crazy. Then he told me that a friend of his had soaked it in alcohol for a couple of months before eating and it was pretty good that way. So we gave it a shot and it has become a tradition ever since. Here’s how we make it:
WARNING: Some planning ahead is required!
We start off with the Betty Crocker Yellow Fruitcake recipe. We have an old version of this cookbook from the ’70s – before Low Fat! and Microwavable! decorated the pages – and I’m not sure if it’s in the new versions so I’ll reproduce the highlights here.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
- 2/3 cup orange juice
- 9 eggs
- 16 oz candied cherries (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 15 oz golden raisins (about 3 cups)
- 12 oz candied pineapple (about 2 cups)
- 4 oz candied citron (about 2/3 cup)
- 4 oz candied orange peel (about 2/3 cup)
- 3/4 cup flaked coconut
- 8 oz blanched whole almonds (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 8 oz pecan halves (about 2 cups)
Grease two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans and split batter evenly between the two pans. Bake at 275 degrees F for 2.5 to 3 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
The first thing you’ll notice about this recipe is that there’s a lot of candied fruit in there. However, if you’re soaking the cakes in alcohol, candied fruit is a poor choice as it won’t absorb the alcohol. We use dried fruit since it has much better absorption properties. That being said, we also make a few other changes to the recipe. First, we use butter for the shortening as well and melt it in the loaf pans so that they’re pregreased when I add the butter to the mixture. The rest of the first 8 ingredients are kept the same. This results in a batter that looks like this:
It’s pretty obvious where the recipe name came from at this stage.
Make sure to use a big bowl since the dried fruit will take up a lot of space!
Once the batter is done, we determine what dried fruit to add by going to a store that sells dried fruit and grabbing whatever sounds good that day. The only things we always add are dried pineapple, which we both love, and crystallized ginger, Lloyd’s favorite. We learned the hard way that if you add both of these things (or are not a huge fan of large pieces of ginger) that you need to cut up the ginger into small pieces. Otherwise, the ginger is very easy to mix up with the pineapple and is quite overpowering when you get a big piece.
These pieces won’t be mistaken for pineapple!
We follow the recipe for the amount of nuts to add, but the amount of dried fruit to add is determined based on what looks about right. I think of the batter as the glue that holds the tasty stuff together. That being said, we’re also thinking about switching to three loaf pans because I add so much dried fruit. When we’re done adding the dried fruit and nuts, the batter looks like this:
Lot’s of fruit and nuts in this batch!
Pour the batter into the loaf pans and bake. Once the cakes are done, let cool completely on the counter. Next, apply alcohol. We use brandy as our alcohol of choice. I add about a shot to each cake, pouring very slowly and evenly over the top of the cake. Then cover and place the cakes in the fridge. I continue adding the same amount of alcohol once a week until the cakes are moist. This results in rather alcoholic, and tasty, fruitcake. Enjoy!