As someone who’s enjoyably eaten fruitcake for many decades, it’s hard for me to understand the revulsion and mockery that this seasonal treat receives. Like with any other baked good, there are excellent home-made specimens, but also terrible mass-produced ones too. This year, I made fruitcake from a recipe that Serious Eats published a few years ago, one that I somehow hadn’t come across before.
Most fruitcake calls for a mixture of dried fruit to be chopped and macerated in alcohol, sometimes overnight or even for a few weeks. This recipe uses ten dried, fresh, and candied ingredients, and two different spirits. I followed the recipe pretty closely, and my final mixture included:
- chestnut liqueur (Trader Vic’s)
- Thompson raisins
- dried cherries
- dried figs
- dried apricots
- half of a fresh navel orange
- fresh ginger
- candied pineapple
- candied orange peel
- candied ginger
I made this recipe twice in the past week: it didn’t really make much difference whether I let the booze-macerated fruit mature for a few days in a jar or not, so you can save yourself some time. One thing I did learn, is that if your dates aren’t super moist, you should use the boiling water to soak them, so that the food processor has an easier time grinding the mixture. And, you should always toast nuts, even if the recipe doesn’t tell you to.
The completed batter is quite fluid, and easily fills a standard Bundt pan. Do make sure you spray the pan well (don’t forget the central part), as the cake and its ingredients are sticky. The tube pan helps to bake this fruitcake in just one hour (compare that with black cake which takes four hours). It rose a little bit and cracked on the surface.
I didn’t make the glaze: fruitcake has enough flavours on its own, especially this one. Two forms of orange, ginger three ways, molasses, espresso, plus all of the familiar warm spices, make each bite unique and complex. This is definitely a keeper. If I had one criticism, it’s that the texture is quite soft, as to be expected from an oil-based cake. Slices of this fruitcake were a little crumbly and tended to fall apart.