CHRISTMAS FRUITCAKE

by Shumaila

Merry Christmas!

When I was young, every Christmas, one of my mom’s friends, would gift us a loaf of fruitcake. It was the most delicious cake I have ever had. Growing up, I experimented tasting other fruitcakes, but nothing ever came close to that cake and well, the other fruitcakes just put me off fruitcakes altogether. This Christmas I wanted to recreate the same recipe. I tried asking my mom to get the recipe from her friend, but, unfortunately she did not have her number. One thing my mom did know about the recipe, though, was that she would make it at least a month before Christmas, soaking the cake with booze every few days.

So, the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, I started prep for my version of fruitcake. One thing I was sure that I did not want to use in the cake, was candied fruit. I was so sure about that, that even before searching for an apt recipe, I had already bought dried fruits. So I looked into my cookbooks, but none carried the recipe that made the cut. Then , I turned to my next best friend, google, for the recipe. And I found Alton Brown’s. Now, I loooooove his series Good Eats and the recipe is from one of the episodes of the series that aired this recipe. Besides not including any candied fruits, the recipe also got rave reviews. I did tweak it a bit by including the dried fruits I bought. My list included black figs, calmyrna figs, dried currants, medjool dates, dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, monukka raisins, pitted prunes, sultanas. I used brandy instead of rum as thats what I had on hand. Since, I planned to gift the cakes to a few of my friends, I tripled the recipe.

The dried fruits chopped up and covered in sugar

I have never baked so many cakes together at one time before. And, there was this nagging feeling telling me- this is not a good idea. I did not have a bowl big enough to mix the whole batter. Then the oven wasn’t so big to accommodate all the cakes and having enough space for air circulation. Anyways, I thought to myself, if they are an utter failure- well, I’ll keep them for myself and make a pudding!

Three weeks later, they are all wrapped and ready to be gifted to friends, save for one- the one for us. Now, of course, I don’t remember the taste of the fruitcake I had eons back, but this version has been the best I have eaten since then!

All wrapped up!

Alton Brown likes to have his slice toasted with some mascarpone cheese! Like Alton Brown says, this is Good Eats!


CHRISTMAS FRUITCAKE

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Free Range Fruitcake

  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup sun dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sun dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sun dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
  • Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
  • 1 cup gold rum (I used brandy)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
  • 4 whole cloves, ground
  • 6 allspice berries, ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken
  • Brandy for basting and/or spritzing

Directions

  1. Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests. Add rum and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit.
  2. Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice and spices. Bring mixture to a boil stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes. (Batter can be completed up to this point, then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before completing cake.)
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture. Quickly bring batter together with a large wooden spoon, then stir in eggs one at a time until completely integrated, then fold in nuts. Spoon into a 10-inch non-stick loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, bake another 10 minutes, and check again.
  5. Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack or trivet. Baste or spritz top with brandy and allow to cool completely before turning out from pan.
  6. When cake is completely cooled, seal in a tight sealing, food safe container. Every 2 to 3 days, feel the cake and if dry, spritz with brandy. The cake’s flavor will enhance considerably over the next two weeks. If you decide to give the cake as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient that they are very lucky indeed.