One of the first things I think of with Christmas (besides cookies and booze) is fruitcake. I never really understood the symbolism of it and am proud to say I’ve never tried the stuff. But I do remember hearing threats of people re-gifting fruitcakes over and over and rumors that the stuff could last for decades, if wrapped properly. It does seem festive, with it’s red and green “fruits” and I couldn’t imagine writing a 12 Days of Christmas series without it. I planned on
spending hours researching scouring the internet checking Wikipedia to learn about its origins, until I came across this article on the Huffington Post. While I could research and write for days, I don’t think I could ever come close to their thoughts as to why fruit cake is the most hated feared Christmas dessert cake food. Just go ahead and read it.
But just in case you haven’t been scared away yet, I must offer a recipe. It is my duty and a sacred pledge I made to myself upon launching this blog. And I choose this one simply because it’s labeled “Free Range” and I would like to think there is some level of humane treatment of all those fruitcakes out there. So to you brave souls out there who have sampled the forbidden, er, fruits, of fruitcake and may even be brave enough to one day make your own–enjoy.
Free Range Fruitcake (from the Food Network)
- 1 c golden raisins
- 1 c currants
- 1/2 c sun dried cranberries
- 1/2 c sun dried blueberries
- 1/2 c sun dried cherries
- 1/2 c dried apricots, chopped
- Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
- Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
- 1/4 c candied ginger, chopped
- 1 c gold rum
- 1 c sugar
- 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 c unfiltered apple juice
- 4 whole cloves, ground
- 6 allspice berries, ground
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken
- Brandy for basting and/or spritzing
Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests. Add rum and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit.
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.)
Heat oven to 325°F. 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. 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.
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.
- Family-friendly Christmas Fruitcake (emmaeats.com)
- Fruitcake: Holiday Tradition or Joke? (grubamericana.com)
- The Best Christmas Fruitcake (barbaramelnikcarson.com)
- Various Uses For That Christmas Fruitcake (mix965houston.cbslocal.com)
- fruitcake biscotti with white chocolate drizzle (bitebymichelle.com)
- Holiday Fruitcakes (No not your family) (mistresssopia.wordpress.com)
The trouble with Christmas fruit cake in particular is that it’s often made too rich and heavy. It’s perfectly possible to make a light fruit cake with a few red cherries, sultanas and even apricots or figs. But every kind of fruit is densely packed into Christmas fruit cake.
Marzipan and icing is often wrapped round too! I hate marzipan, and the icing is brittle and adds extra sweetness to an already sweet thing. It’s all too much. I love fruit cake, but not a traditional Christmas fruit cake.
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