This entry was first posted in July 2005, but I re-post it here for all those folks who were asking for fruitcake in December but haven’t figured out my archives. If you go down to the comments area, my sister has graciously written out her spectacular fruitcake recipe. Don’t substitute stuff, it won’t come out the same! The best time to eat a good fruitcake is after it has had time to properly age and absorb the brandy or liquor that has been sprinkled on it. Fruitcakes are extremely dense, packed chock-full of nuts, dried and candied fruit and just a little batter. They were traditionally the ideal wedding cake and often brides in cooler climates such as England (where it originated) would even keep their wedding cake for a full year and eat some of it on their first anniversary. The thick sugar icing would help to â€œpreserveâ€ the cake within. It is considered to improve with age, up to a certain point, of course. The worst possible time to eat a fruitcake, in my opinion, is when it arrives with all the other dozens of high sugar baked goods just about the eve of Christâ€™s birthâ€¦ which most scholars believe actually happened much later but letâ€™s not go there, shall we? Great fruitcakes are seriously dense with fruit and nuts which may include some or all of the following: currants, raisins, sultanas, candied peels, dates, figs, cherries, walnuts and almonds. Some bake the cake with brandy in the batter but others like to drizzle the brandy onto the cake and repeat this several times until they think the cake is pleasantly saturated.
Fruitcakes are one of those food masterpieces that have been badly maligned and for the most part, seriously bastardized. The joke that there is only one fruitcake in the whole wide world and it makes its rounds during the holidays is just symptom of fruitcakescrewedtitis, a virus that has affected the planet since the 1950â€™s. Good fruitcakes have the following characteristics â€“ dense with fruit, not much cake, a balance between sweet and bitterish fruit (dates and candied citrus peel for example), moist from the fruit such as sultanas and brandy, dark and spicy but not burnt, substantial but terrific when consumed in small portions. They should license bakers who want to make it because so many screw it up! The other day I was clearing out the deep recesses of one of our refrigerators and to my delight I spotted a huge red can that weighed a ton! My sisterâ€™s famous fruitcake had been â€œagingâ€ for six months! I took it out and served it for dessert at a dinner that night and it was superb! Still moist, nutty, fruity and redolent with aged brandy, this was a real holiday treat at the start of July! Served with an equally intense dessert wine, a Coteau du Lyon brought by one of the dinner guests, both were sublime!