Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Vox's well-laden Christmas Fruitcake

Here we are in the First Week of Advent. No Christmas decorations up yet, we'll leave that for after the Fourth Sunday but it is time to begin some of the preparations. I love Christmas, always have; and I love fruitcake. Is that weird or something? What is it about fruitcake that prompts so much derision? I think I know, lousy, dry, overly sweet fruitcake mass produced bought in a grocery store.

Now, what about making your own? It's not that hard and this recipe is one which I've used and modified here and there. Note that except for orange peel, there is no candied fruit with all that added liquid invert sugar. As a tip, when making Christmas Pudding or mincemeat that require candied fruit, soak it in water from the kettle for a few minutes to melt off the gooey syrup and sugar. Just use the brown sugar of your recipe to sweeten and not all that chemical stuff.

One word of caution. Do not cover the pot while its cooking. I did the first year and the alcohol escaped all at once with the steam. Yes, I lost part of my eyebrows!

So, here it is, enjoy.

1 cup chopped dried apricots                                 

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped dried pineapple                  

1 cup chopped pitted prunes

1 cup yellow raisins                                    

1 cup Thompson raisins

½ cup candied orange peel                                   

½ cup chopped dried figs
1 cup spring water
½ cup dark rum                                                     

½ cup brandy

½ cup port                                                               

½ cup Cointreau

1 teaspoon bitters                                                   

1- 3 inch cinnamon stick

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon                            

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg                      

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1½ cups Demerara sugar                          

¼ teaspoon salt      

1 cup softened, unsalted butter               

4 large eggs, beaten

1½ cups self-rising flour                                       

1-teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine fruit in a large pot.  Stir in rum brandy, port, Cointreau, water and bitters.   Add cinnamon stick, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Remove fruit mixture to large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for five days tossing it once a day. 

Prepare cake pans.  This is a large amount of cake and will fill 4 loaf pans or 2 – 8inch square pans.  Butter pans and line with parchment paper. 

Preheat oven to 275. F.  Beat together butter and sugar until well mixed.  Gradually beat in eggs a little at a time, adding some of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle. 

Stir in remaining flour.  Add fruit mixture with liquid to flour and egg mixture.  You may want to use your hands.  Spoon into prepared pans and smooth the surface.  Loosely cover top with a double layer of parchment paper.  Bake for about 2 hours for small [pans and up to 3 hours for large ones.  Test with a toothpick.  It should come out clean although the cake will be quite moist in center. 

Cool pans on rack.  Un-mould and wrap with foil.  Do not cut for at least three days.


Bear said...

I never cared for Christmas pudding, though when I was young making it was a big production and we were all given turns to stir the pot- it brought good luck, we were told. More towards christmas I'll start baking shortbreads and fudge and sticky buns. I rather enjoy the Christmas baking. it gets the family together in the kitchen, and away from the television.

Gabby said...

I've loved fruitcake since I was a kid and have never understood the derision it incurs every year. I was lucky to have had my mother-in-law's dark fruitcake and plum pudding to look forward to each Christmas for 20 years. Sadly, nobody seems to know where the recipes went after her death.

In recent years I've had the pleasure of sampling the fruitcake made by my son-in-law's mother. It's a delight that would keep me from getting behind the wheel if I were to eat more than a sliver at a sitting. Since it's a once a year thing I try to make it last as long as possible.

Anonymous said...

What can you do with the "juice" from the fruit????

Vox Cantoris said...


Anonymous said...

Well, you said remove the fruit mixture, and I presumed you left the liquors behind....but maybe not?

Vox Cantoris said...

Ah, now I understand.

When you remove the fruit mixture to the bowl for the five days the beauty of it is that there is no "juice." The fruits, all dried of course, are dry no longer, they are full of the mixture of spring water, rum, brandy, port and Cointreau -- it has been all absorbed into the fruit.

Imagine how that is going to taste in three weeks!

Stir it daily. I made this on Wednesday and will let it ferment until Tuesday at which point the other ingredients are prepared and it will be baked, slowly. It will still age after baking.

Anonymous said...

Oh, good. I thought I was going to have to drink it....:) One more thing, can one add nuts of some kind?

Vox Cantoris said...

Absolutely! I was thinking about doing that. Walnuts perhaps? I think you could add those with the egg and other ingredients before baking.

Good luck with it.

Anonymous said...

I think pecans, for me anyway. Question: Do you chop the orange peel after you candy it? And do you roll it in sugar once it is dry, as recipes for candied orange peel say? Or is that just for use as a candy....? You gotta be the expert on this cake.

Vox Cantoris said...

I hate to admit it, I used store bought peel and then soaked all the gooey stuff off of it; but it should be diced up.

Mary Ann (anonymous) said...

I made a double batch. Lots of chopping and lots of spirits! Added some pecans. We cut it on Christmas night....the cake is WONDERFUL! Thank you! And a blessed Christmas to you and all your readers.

Mary Ann (anonymous) said...

The fruitcake (with a few added chopped pecans) is so good that people who hate fruitcake are asking for the recipe, and my husband said he can never buy our (really great Texas) cake again....I have to make this every year. thank you!