Despite its long history, fruitcakes have not made it to the top ten list for being the most favorite cake. It has remained the butt of jokes since Jonny Carson claimed that it was the worst Christmas gift.
He said that there was probably just one fruitcake in the world and that one fruitcake keeps getting passed around year to year. For me, it is a very special bake.
Why The Fruit is Special To Me
Baking a fruitcake fosters wonderful childhood memories. I can remember as a small child “helping” my father make the annual Christmas fruitcake. It became a yearly tradition where we cut and chop fruit and nuts for what seemed like for hours back then. We made this very special cake to have at Christmas and it was sent to relatives.
How long does it take to make a Fruitcake?
To have a moist and richly infused cake it takes about a month. The cake does not have to be bathed in booze, but that is one of our favorite ways to enjoy it. It can be consumed after baking, but the alcohol pairs well with fruit and enhances the flavor.
We start making our fruitcake around Thanksgiving giving. The cake takes about a month for the alcohol to absorb and develop it’s full flavor.
What makes this fruitcake different than a store bought fruitcake?
The fruit used in the cake – I use all freshly dried fruit, not the processed candied fruit. I purchased my fruit from Sprouts and Whole Foods. I do not use the bitter citrus of orange peel that is commonly used.
Overall time devoted – This is not a quickly made cake. There is prep time with chopping the fruit and nuts. The baking time is about 2 hours and then there is a month of remembering to check the moistness of the cake every few days and bathing the cake with the booze of your choice as needed to ensure you end up with a moist and flavorful cake.
A Heaping cup of love added – Making the cake is a labor of love. It provides life long memories about the baking, caring for the cake, sharing the cake with family and friends, and stories about events that occurred around that time.
Fun facts about Fruitcakes:
- It goes back to the Romans. It was not a cake full of fruit, but rather meat, barley and other ingredients like honey. It was consumed as an energy snack.
- Europeans learned that fruit could be preserved with sugar later in the 16thcentury when sugar was plentiful. This is when meat was replaced with fruit in fruitcakes.
- The fruitcake was outlawed for a period of time in the 18thcentury because of it’s sugary richness. It was said that this dessert Figgy pudding was sinful
- The fruitcake became the cake of choice for special occasions with British Royals. It was the wedding cake for Queen Victoria. The use of fruitcake with wedding celebrations continued with Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and with Kate Middleton and Prince William.
- The colonist brought the fruitcake to America
- The Apollo flight took the fruitcake to the moon in 1969. That fruitcake is on display in Washington’s Smithsonian museum
- Fruitcake got its connection with Christmas time possibly with the Christmas carol “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” with the line that refers to ” bring me some figgy pudding.” Fruit cake is also refer to as figgy pudding by the British.
- Fruitcake is not only a British or American Christmas dessert. The Germans have a fruitcake like bread called Stollen. Italians have a sweet bread with raisins and fruit called Panettone, and the Jamaicans are known for their fruit filled rum soaked Black cake
Daddy’s Fruit Cake
- 2 cups light raisins
- 1 cup dried peaches
- 1 cup dried apples
- 1 cup dried appicots
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup dried pineapple
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup dried figs
- 1 cup dates
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup softened butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 eggs beaten
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 cup bourbon,sherry, rum, or white wine select and use just one
- Preheat oven to 300 degree and line a tube pan with parchment paper
- The fruit and pecans needs to be placed into a large bowl/container for mixing. I use my 7 quart crock pot to mix the cake.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder onto the fruit.
- Toss until all the fruit and nuts are coated with the flour
- In a stand mixer or with large mixing bowl and a hand electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar
- Add beaten eggs and the lemon extract to the butter mixture and continue to beat until it is light and fluffy
- Pour the butter egg mixture onto the floured covered fruit. Add burbon or sherry and mix batter well by hand with a large spoon.
- Spoon batter into the tube pan and bake at 300 degree for 2 hours. Test doneness and add additional time if needed.
- Cool the cake on a cake rack
- When cool, wrap the cake in tea towels
- Transfer the cake covered in the towel onto a cake carrier with a lid or another container with a closing lid.
- For the next several weeks , about every 3 days, apply a generous amount of the alcohol you selected onto the top on the cake. The alcohol will soak down into the cake and make it rich and moist
This is a great Christmas tradition to start with your family… baking an annual fruitcake together. I promise that many years from now, your kids will look back holding very fond memories of their baking it with you.
Merry Christmas Bakers
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