Fruitcakes of the world bear one of two major characteristics, apart from being special cakes that contain fruits and nuts: alcoholic and non-alcoholic. And then there are dark and light fruitcakes on top of that. The end result looks like a dense, delicate concoction chock full of scrumptious wonder and, with the addition of alcohol, juicy candied fruits. They can be made big or small, although use of a tube or bundt pan is standard. Christmas is the specific time of the year when these cakes are consumed. The late Queen Victoria “waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste,” according to WhatsCookingAmerica.net. These cakes are capable of being stored long-term, depending on the treatment.
Preparation of the alcoholic variety begins far in advance, such as the month of November or early December, when the cake is wrapped in cloth and situated on aluminum wrap, then doused in various liquors and wrapped tight. This application repeats every two weeks until eaten at Christmas.
When preparing a fruitcake, it’s important to have the proper ingredients on hand. Tubs of candied cherries and candied pineapple can be purchased easily at the grocery, especially during the season. Candied citron comes from the Citrus Apple, a lumpy, elongated, rounded fruit as big as a grapefruit, bearing the basic form of a kumquat. Many varieties of this evergreen leaved plant certainly exist.
Raisins are also used in sizable quantity, along with candied orange and lemon peel. Juice is another ingredient, such as OJ or grape. Some recipes call for pecans while others use almonds. Coconut is sometimes an ingredient. Nearly a carton of eggs may also be called for.
The dark fruitcake typically uses a host of spices, whereas there are no spices used to make the light variety. Both varieties have their own appeal, but the dark variety features the more exotic ingredients.
The Special Edition of Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook features recipes for both dark and light fruitcake, using 9″ tube pans.
The recipe for the dark variety makes a single cake, and the light variety makes a double recipe. At the right place and time, it may be treasured for its complex goodness.
1 1/3 cup raisins
1 3/4 pound pecans, chopped as preferred
1 1/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 pound candied pineapple, chunks
1/2 pound candied cherries, halves
1/4 pound chopped citron
1/4 pound chopped candied orange peel
1/4 pound chopped candied lemon peel
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup grape juice
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Cream butter and sugar. Add to molasses, grape juice, and beaten egg yolks and mix well.
Mix the fruits, nuts, and one cup of the flour and shut into oven for 5 minutes.
Sift flour with all five dry ingredients.
Beat the egg whites into peaks phase and add to creamed ingredients, folding. Add remaining recipe components.
Bake 2 hours. Cool on rack and then wrap in foil; or wrap both in cheesecloth and foil if planning to add alcohol (in which case, keep in cool and dark place and place in tied plastic bag to retain alcohol). This dark fruitcake can also be refrigerated or frozen.
As for the light fruitcake, this is not the sort of baking item that you can just walk in to the store and buy. It features a richness of various citrus fruit and cherries just like the dark but brandishes the flavor as all-genuine and wholesome without help from any spices. Unlike the dark, certain components must soak overnight. Cooking takes longer and bakes at a lower temperature.
White fruit cake
2 cups orange juice
2 pounds white raisins, chopped
1 pound almonds, blanched & slivered
1 pound candied cherries, diced
1 pound candied pineapple, diced
1/2 pound preserved citron, diced
1/4 pound candied lemon peel, diced
1/4 pound candied orange peel, diced
2 cups butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 pound measured egg, beaten (8 – 10 medium)
4 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (reserve 1 1/2 cups of this, unsifted)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces copra, shredded (prepared meat of one coconut)
Chop raisins, mix in the OJ, apply elastic food cover or plastic wrap to sit out overnight.
• Once ready to proceed with preparation, preheat oven to 250°F.
Mix 1-1/2 cups of flour in with remaining fruits and nuts.
Cream butter and sugar, add beaten eggs, and mix well.
Sift and add dry ingredients a half cup at a time, beating to incorporate, and then add coconut and the fruit and nut mixture. Mix and add the OJ mixture, then mix well.
Divvy up the batter between two greased 9″ tube pans and bake for about 2-1/2 hours.
Cool, and then wrap like the dark fruit cake, above.
Recommendation: Use floured oil such as Baker’s Joy to skip using wax paper for the tube pan.
Making a fruitcake isn’t difficult, although a sizable preparation of the necessary ingredients shall most probably require a special grocery outing, unless already present in the freezer. Be sure to get fresh ingredients for a good experience. If you should want to douse all or some of your fruitcake in alcohol, consider alcohol such as bourbons and rums rather than alcohol such as Irish cream so that nothing can spoil … and everything can be preserved. Fruitcake is special, and a little bit served can be very savory and satisfying. You’ll please anyone a whole lot more than by using the trite, sugar-soaked store bought version now that you can make your own from scratch.