It’s beginning to feel a lot like…I know, I know. You are expecting me to say Christmas, and yes, that is true. I was actually thinking that it’s beginning to feel a lot like fruitcake making!
There are two types of people out there; those who love this wonderfully decadent cake and those who loathe it. I, am a lover of this fantastical and awesome holiday treat. Where else can you get a myriad of dried fruits and nuts all mixed in a cake? Some like raisins, and some like currants; what about some candied ginger or figs?
I recently did a poll on Twitter and Facebook asking people what their thoughts were on this traditional holiday treat, and surprisingly enough, 96% of the people admitted to loving this cake that has gotten a bad rap. Even more surprising, was that there was 4% that had never even eaten it (you know who you are).
It is usually this time of year that I whip up a few batches of a fruitcake recipe that is a mix of both my mother’s and grandmother’s. Once I bake my dense, fruit laden cake, I wrap it in tin foil, poke holes in it and douse it liberally in whatever liquor tickles my fancy that year; in the past it has been cherry brandy, rum, ice wine and this year, cognac.
My memory of fruitcake is a funny one. Every year as a child, my parents would pack us up in the car and make the two day trek down to Florida for the holidays. The only big stop we had to make was once we hit Georgia and my mother would make sure that we stopped in a truck stop to pick up a dozen Claxton fruitcakes. What was so special about these specific cakes? They were dark, rich and full of fruits and nuts, especially pecans! To this day, when I see a Claxton fruitcake, it reminds me of those long drives and the great trips to Florida during the holiday season.
Whether you are a lover or a hater, fruitcake is here to stay. If you have been wary of this cake in the past, take time to re-visit it this year or even make your own to see if it was all just a bad holiday dream of Christmas’ past. As I write this, I stare at my cake, sitting in cognac and soaking up all it’s goodness, just waiting to be cut into in a months time. My mouth watering and visions of fruitcake presents arriving at my door, I now count the minutes until the holiday arrives.
Gateau De Fruit Extraordinaire
Makes 1 large fruitcake
Mix together in a bowl:
- 250ml (1C) sugar
- 250ml (1C) lard or shortening
- 500ml (2C) AP flour
- 10ml (2 Tsp) baking powder
- 5ml (1tsp) vanilla
- 5 eggs
Then add in:
- 250ml (1C) pitted prunes; chopped
- 250ml (1C) dates; chopped
- 250ml (1C) apricots; chopped
- 250ml (1C) pecans; broken up
- 250ml (1C) candied cherries
- 125ml (1/2C) candied ginger; chopped
- 250ml (1C) candied peel
Mix the fruit into the batter and into a greased 10″ cake pan. bake at 325F (app 168C) for 1 1/2 hours. Once baked, let cool and poke holes in it with a skewer and douse liberally with liquor or choice (rum, brandy, etc). Wrap in tin foil and place in air tight container. I add liquor every week to mine, but I leave this up to you. Let “age” for 1 month.
For special occasions, I decorate the finished cake with more of the fruits, left whole and brush warmed apricot preserves on top to keep it all together and to give it a gorgeous sheen.