Fruitcake Redux

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 afcake1age 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 “preserve” 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 Christ’s birth… which most scholars believe actually happened much later but let’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 afcake2been 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 1950’s. Good fruitcakes have the following characteristics – 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 sister’s famous fruitcake had been “aging” 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!


22 Responses

  1. Hi, it was really nice to eat fruitcake in the middle of the year this is one of my favotite…
    Would yo be kind enough to suggest where I can order a good fruitcake???
    Love you site, its a ritual for me to open this everyday..

  2. Who says fruit cake is only for xmas? I dont bake the
    fruit cake for us, my husband does.After years of living in UK and have baked tons of these he has learned to proportion the fruits and nuts well.(he used to baked for the Spastics Society for their annual charity.

    What he does as well is soak the fruits with rum, port, orange juice overnight.

    He starts preparing this after summer and once somebody asked why his cake is so MOIST? He said he added a bit of grated carrots!!!

    This reminds me I still have a xmas pudding I bought at Fortnum and Mason (London)The price is a bit expensive but its heavenly.

    WE serve ours with Jersey Cream if we are in UK or creme
    fraiche (with more brandy on the cake).
    and a good pot of earl grey

    well if I were working and money is not the question, I would serve with St Yquem

  3. My heavens, marketman has matured, he has finally gotten around to appreciating a fruitcake! I’ve been making hundreds of pounds every year for 4 decades to be sent to friends and relatives around the world for Christmas. Mom loved fruitcake so this is for her. Today I am making 2 wedding cakes for September and November, to be encased in almond paste and fondant eventually. Join my campaign against bad fruitcakes, make a good one, it’s really easy. Follow my recipe exactly, no substitutions, please. My recipe has been published in New York so I am happy to share it with your readers:
    Brandied Dark Fruitcake
    1 1/2 lbs pitted dates quartered
    1 lb. each dark and sultana raisins
    1 lb. each candied orange and lemon peel coarsely chopped
    1 lb. dried currants
    1/2 c. really good brandy (I use my husband’s Martell Cordon Bleu)
    1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
    2 tbsp. powdered cinnamon
    1 tbsp. freshly grated nutmeg
    1 tbsp. powdered cloves
    2tbsp. each lemon and orange zest
    2 lbs. walnuts, pecans or blanched almonds coarsely chopped

    Combine all of the above in a large bowl cover, marinate overnight, stir to mix occasionally.
    1 1/4 lb. butter room temp.
    2 lbs. moscovado brown sugar
    8 extra large eggs
    4 oz. unsulphured molasses
    4c. unsifted all purpose bleached flour
    1 tsp. each salt and baking powder
    Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5 min. Add eggs one by one, beat well. Add molasses.
    Sift flour, salt and baking powder and add on low speed, mix only until smooth.
    Add the batter to the fruit mixture and mix with 2 ladles until batter is distributed amongst the fruit.
    Line loaf pans or tube pans with parchment, butter well. Fill 3/4 full, pack down with back of spoon and level off.
    Bake in preheated 300F oven on the center rack. On the bottom of your oven place a cake pan full of water to keep the cakes moist and prevent overbrowning.
    Loaves should cook in about 2 hours, tube pans a little longer, check with a tooth pick. If you want to decorate with candied cheeries and nuts on top brush with corn sirup and place nuts and cherries and return to the oven for another 5 min.
    Cool.Do not remove paper. Now pour over each one a quarter cup of brandy. Wrap in foil tightly. Add more brandy every 2 weeks until you give them away. Makes approx. 15 lbs. 2005 cost approx. US$75.
    This recipe is the most expensive cake you can possibly make and its quality totally depends on the best possible ingredients. You will need half a litre bottle of brandy or more.
    For you Filipinos out there who want more cake than fruit simply cut the amount of fruit and nuts in half, as well as the orange juice, brandy and spices.
    I’ve bought fruitcake all over the world to compare and this one stands up to the best of them so try making this once and your relatives and friends will never stop asking you for more.

  4. That last comment was from my sister. I would have never asked her to share her fruitcake recipe for the entire planet but since she has generously posted a very personal recipe, I suggest you try it someday. Make it soon and it will be perfect by the holidays! Thanks!

    Arlene, I never buy fruitcake here in Manila as my sister usually sends us one. Why not try baking a few for yourself? Otherwise, will readers please post their local source for fruitcakes??? Thanks.

  5. Above recipe makes six 8x4x4 inch loaf pans or five 8 inch tube pans, or twelve mini loaf pans.

  6. yay, a fellow fruitcake lover! my theory is some people are burned from ever loving fruitcake because their experience has been with the cheap citron-filled and fake flavors kind. bleeccch! nothing like a rich fruitcake with dried organic fruits, and like sis says, great brandy. may i say, i LOVE your sister — i can’t have enough fruitcake recipes! are we seeing a “sister’s food blog” in the horizon? PLEASE tell her to consider!

  7. “They should license bakers who want to make it because so many screw it up!”

    If ever I land a seat in Congress, this will be the first bill that I will pass. Not that I dream of being a congressman though.

  8. I don’t know where my mother got the fruitcake we had last Christmas, but it was so moist and full of fruit that I’ve loved fruitcake ever since.

    Are there any good store-bought fruitcakes out there?

  9. oooh, fruitcake! my mom used to bake them to give away during christmas and we always had extras for eating months after the holidays hehehe… i’m probably one of the few youngsters who love this part of Christmas (baking, brandying and eating fruitcake), still don’t like queso de bola though (must be the texture)

  10. I knew this off topic mr marketman, but can you pls recommend a restaurant or store that sells and deliver Cebu’s lechon here in manila,thank you.

  11. Maybe I can surprise my mom and make her some fruitcake, I have a feeling she’ll love this. She sometimes has them in her fridge all the way thru Easter! Is there a brand of cinnamom that is available locally that you prefer to use. I find the one’s on the grocery racks a bit off. Thanks for the pan de sal recipe, it’s good.

  12. Hchie, I am not sure what cinnamon is available locally…maybe mccormicks? I try to stock up on spices on trips so I have some good ones around when I need them…

  13. Not sure if you’d still be able to read this.. but, my sister plans to give fruitcakes as souvenir for her wedding. Am just wondering if you can suggest where we can get some good tasting cakes. Of course, these cakes would have to be budget-friendly too.

    Hope to hear from you…

  14. gambit, I have never purchased a fruitcake in Manila. I suspect the best way to do the giveaways is to make the fruitcakes instead. That would be the most economical way to do it… My sister lists her recipe up above in the comments, but I have to warn you that doing it right means a serious amount of dried fruit. Perhpas you can try the various bakers at the more upscale bazaars (say Fort bonifacio once or twice a month) and see if they do bulk fruitcake orders…

  15. Hi to all, I am very glad to find this recipe!! in Mexico we also use some dried and candied fruit from the country, like biznaga and pineapple, and sometimes rum instead of brandy, but I definitively agree that the ingredients have to be the best ones … I usually pour 1 oz of brandy everyday for 2 to 3 weeks before Xmas or give it, which way is better?

    Thanks a lot for sharing…

  16. Beatriz, the slow drizzle of rhum or brandy is a good idea, but I think it can get better with age for up to 6 months before you eat the cake… :)

  17. hehehe… almost a year since the last post… my regular suki for fruitcake is rustan’s grocery, my tita sends me a fantastic one that she buys from a hardcore fruitcake lola she knows (this one is exponentially better)… trying to convince the wife to make your sister’s version. she doesn’t like fruitcake. i know. i can’t explain how we get along either. hehehe… and i love her even more for it!

  18. The best fruitcakes I have tasted are my mom’s fruitcakes. Commercial fruitcakes just do not look nor taste yummy to me. No wonder a lot of people do not appreciate fruitcake…because they haven’t tasted good ones!

    I remember that my mom would start baking them around August. She would “soak” the cakes with brandy, then wrap them in katsa(sp?) cloth that had been soaked in brandy and then cover with foil. Then she would add more brandy every so often till they had been given away. My sisters can correct me if I’m wrong (I know you’re lurking here!).

  19. I love fruitcake. When I used to travel I would bring in some from the U.S. and Europe and let them age in time for Christmas. A lot of people don’t like Fruticake. It must be because they haven’t tasted the real ones because of the ones sold here commercially. Really off.
    Loved them when I was still a child when my Dad would get some gifts of this from the U.S. and from the priests who would give him some. (Jesuits). Guess for some,it’s an acquired taste. Thanks Sister!!



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