Now’s the time to start thinking about the Christmas season! Since Thanksgiving came as late as it did this year, we’re having less time to get things ready for the holidays, so let’s start right off the bat with some holiday baking. There’s one holiday treat that actually needs to be made in advance to allow the flavors to ripen and mellow and that’s fruitcake. Fruitcake is one of those holiday items that gets a lot of negative attention, but there are fans of this treat. I’ve always liked fruitcake, but I’ve found in recent years that I enjoy it more. So, today and tomorrow, I’ll be sharing fruitcake recipes that you can make ahead and have them mellowing to be ready in time for Christmas.
The recipe I have for you today is for a “Dark Fruitcake”. This is an old, traditional fruitcake full of candied fruit, nuts, raisins and dates. It also contains several spices and a mild flavoring of molasses. It’s a dark, rich and spicy cake that can be soaked with rum, brandy, bourbon or even wine, if you choose. This recipe makes a five pound cake and can be made in either one 10-inch tube pan or two 9×5 inch loaves. The loaves are a good idea if you plan to share one with someone for a gift. You can keep one and give one to someone else, along with a copy of the recipe. That would make a thoughtful gift, especially if you know the recipient enjoys fruitcake!
This cake is made by making the cake batter and folding in the nuts and fruits. The batter is very stiff, so I would make the batter with an electric mixer, then work in the fruit by hand with a study wooden spoon. The pans are greased first, then lined with foil. Then the foil is greased . The batter is packed in the pans very tightly and baked. It has a long, slow baking of 275 degrees for about 2-1/2 hours. You also place a pan of water under the pan(s) on the oven rack below. When it’s ready to come from the oven, you let it cool slightly, then turn out of the pans, removing the foil. Here, you can decorate the cake with candied fruit and/or nuts. Or, you can soak a piece of cheesecloth in the liquor of your choice and wrap it around the cake. Then, wrap them in foil and store in a cool place. Between now and Christmas, check the cheesecloth periodically and moisten it with additional liquor so that it doesn’t dry out. Then by Christmas, you’ll have a good, mellow dark fruitcake that’s part of the Christmas tradition!
Speaking of Christmas and gift-giving, I shared a recipe last year for “Buttercup Cheese Straws”, which make a fabulous Christmas treat for parties or for giving. Here’s the link to the recipe, if you don’t already have it:
Also, if you’re palate doesn’t care much for fruitcake, how about a “Caramel Apple Cake”? Here’s a video-link for this recipe:
Enjoy this weekend after Thanksgiving! If you’re not out Christmas shopping today, why not round up the ingredients to make this cake and get a head start on the holiday baking!
- 1 pound seedless raisins
- 1 pound chopped dates
- 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 pound mixed candied fruit
- 1/4 cup molasses or honey
- 1/4 cup fruit juice (either orange, apple, grape or pineapple)
- 2 sticks butter or margarine
- 1-1/4 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon mace
Combine the raisins, dates, nuts and candied fruit in a very large bowl. Add the molasses and fruit juice and mix well. Set aside. Cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one by one. Combine the flour with the dry ingredients and add gradually to the creamed mixture. Combine the batter with the fruit/nut mixture and mix by hand until all is mixed well. Grease and flour one 10-inch tube pan or 2 9×5 inch loaf pans. Line pan(s) with aluminum foil and grease again. Pack the batter into the pan(s). Place a shallow pan of hot water on the oven rack below the cake. Place cakes in the oven preheated to 275 degrees. Bake for 2-1/2 hours or until the center is firm to the touch. Let cake(s) cool for about ten minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container. For easy slicing, an electric slicing knife works very well. Yield: 5 lbs. fruitcake.
If desired, soak a piece of cheesecloth in either rum, brandy, liquor or wine and wrap around the cake(s). Wrap them in aluminum foil and store in a cool place, checking periodically to see if cheesecloth needs additional moistening.