My Recipe Box

How to Make Fruitcake

Try the real thing (rum-soaked fruit!) and there’s no going back.

by Nicole Rees

fromFine Cooking
Issue 108

Although it’s rich in history, holds a permanent spot in many family recipe boxes, and is often used as a wedding cake in England, fruitcake is a much-maligned confection in the United States. That’s unfortunate, because a rich cake made with liquor-soaked fruit certainly sounds delicious. And as we’ve come to learn, it absolutely is. 

Fruitcake varieties abound, but most fall into one of two categories: the more traditional dark, made with molasses or brown sugar and heavy on spice, or the light-colored golden fruitcake, which includes ingredients like almonds and honey. You'll find both versions so delectable you’ll be loath to give them away.  

If it's been a few Christmases since you last made fruitcake, try one (or both) of these recipes.

Need to Know

Use dried fruit Fruitcake is only as good as its fruit. Instead of using super-sweet, artificial-tasting candied fruit, experiment with your favorite dried varieties: apricots, figs, cherries, and cranberries all work. But be sure to presoak the fruit you use—it will up the flavor and add moisture to your cake.

Mix your batter thoroughly Since traditional fruitcake recipes don’t include baking powder or baking soda, volume depends on thorough mixing. Adding a couple tablespoons of flour to the batter before beating in the rest helps emulsify and aerate the batter.

Keep the temperature low Due to its dense nature, fruitcake is best baked at a low temperature for a longer time—about an hour and a half for an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan.

Baste your cake Use the rum that remains after soaking the fruit to baste your cooled cake. It makes it extra moist and flavorful and helps preserve the cake. If you plan to keep your fruitcake for longer than a week, baste it each week thereafter with a tablespoon or two of fresh rum.

Tool Kit

Have these kitchen essentials on hand before you start the recipe:

• Liquid measuring cup
• Dry measuring cups
• Measuring spoons
• Rasp-style grater
• 2-quart saucepan with lid
• 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch metal loaf pan
• Medium bowl
• Stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or an electric hand mixer)
• Whisk
• Rubber spatula
• Cooling rack
• Pastry brush

Photo: Scott Phillips

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