Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fruit Cake

I love fruitcake. I love it earnestly and un-ironically. I love that it’s like the perfect marriage of trail mix and cake. I love its density, its chewiness, its booziness. I love it to the depth and breadth and height ….

Well, that’s a bit much. Suffice it to say that I really like fruitcake and am saddened by its unwelcome reputation.

Given my love for fruitcake, it was only a matter of time before I decided to try my hand at making my very own. The crop of fruitcake recipes popping up on tastespotting and foodgawker this time of year only heightened the temptation.

As with most temptations, it was only a matter of time before I succumbed.

This fruitcake is modeled this recipe. I liked its reliance on dried instead of candied fruits and the addition of cream cheese in the batter. I’m of the opinion that cream cheese makes everything better. However, I like booze in my fruitcake – otherwise, I don’t see the point – so I added rum. Next time, I think I’ll go with whiskey/bourbon, as I think I would have preferred their more mellow notes, but rum is better than no booze. In all sorts of contexts.

This fruitcake is a bit less artificial-tasting than store-bought fruitcake, but I would be lying if I said it were lighter. You could, in fact, use this as a doorstop. Alternately, you could drape slices of it atop yourself in lieu of a lead apron next time you need X-rays at the dentist.

You would be better advised to eat it, though, because somewhere, deep down, you probably love fruitcake too.

Among my many recipe futzes, I skipped the candied cherries and used dried bing cherries from Trader Joe’s. I also candied my own citrus peel, as I’m a psycho like that, and I didn’t *really* want to leave the kitchen this weekend. The only kind of candied citrus peel could find at the grocery store was made with corn syrup. While I’m not at all worried about the deleterious health effects of this unholy liquid – if I were, I’d hardly be making fruitcake –the taste of corn syrup squicks me out and always has. It’s why I’ve never been much of a soda-drinker.

Without further ado, I give you fruitcake. Consider it a virtual gift, i.e. easier to reject than the real thing if it’s not your cup of tea.

It would go nicely, however, with a hot cup of tea.


In a medium saucepan, bring to boil:

2 ½ cups water
¼ cup sugar

1 ½ cup sultana raisins
2 cups dried chopped apricots
8 oz. dried bing cherries

Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking at the bottom every few minutes, and cool completely.

Cream until light and fluffy:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum or bourbon or whiskey
4 ounces cream cheese

Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift together
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder

Fold half of the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Fold in the cooled boiled apricot mixture, followed by the remaining dry ingredients along with:

2 cups candied citrus peel, homemade or purchased
1 cup dried pineapple, diced into smallish chunks
2 cups toasted nut pieces (I used hazelnuts, but pecans and walnuts would also be good)
You can substitute other dried or candied fruit permutations should you wish.

I baked this in a loaf pan and a bundt pan. It probably would have all fit in a bundt pan, but I wanted a loaf for home – the bundt was for my family’s Thanksgiving gathering.  That's why you don't get any pretty pictures of bundt slices.

Bake in preheated 350 oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out relatively clean.

Once the cake or cakes are completely cooled, wrap in rum, whiskey, or bourbon-soaked cheesecloth (lightly damp – not sopping). Then wrap the cakes in plastic wrap, and wrap that in tin foil. Keeps indefinitely. Once a week or so, it’s a good idea to brush the tops of the cake with more liquor.

I’ll post the recipe for the candied citrus peel at some point in the future, so never fear if you share my aversion to the store-bought variety. Help is on the way.

Or possibly, the ever-spiraling cycle of insanity continues.  Printable recipe here.


  1. This cake is awesome, very sophisticated flavors. Love love love it.(and WOW you even made the candid citrus peel! )

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It was kind of a project but still fun to make -- if I hadn't candied my own citrus, it would have been easy. :)

  3. Hi Becky,
    It is said that there is only one fruitcake in the world and it's just passed along. Well, I think you have it! Seriously, your cake looks delicious. I like your use of dried fruits and homemade candied citrus peel. I love fruitcake, too, and just finished making ten of them. Count them, ten! For Christmas gifts, of course. Here's an idea I just discovered. Instead o plumping the dried fruit with a sugar syrup, why not use brandy? All the more boozy. Also, Scott Woolley, with whom I studied cake decorating, recommends a 300 degree oven for all his cakes. He says, too, that the English fruitcake is often use for wedding cakes. Just a bit of trivia.

    Can't believe you also love poetry. That is one of my passions, too.

    Happy holidays!

    Phyllis aka

  4. Thanks! I found it quite tasty, and the people who had some claimed to like it. Of course, people are polite. :)

    I'm tremendously impressed that you made 10 fruitcakes! I thought I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. The fruitcake did brown fairly quickly, so 300 might be a better temp. I actually did bake mine at 300 on my oven, but it runs really hot, so that's more like 325-350 in a "regular" oven.

    Thanks for reading!

  5. If you enjoy a good fruitcake you've got to pick up the book "There's Something About CHristmas" by Debbie Macomber.

    It's a delightful holiday book.
    Nancy Naigle