Traditional fruitcake? That cake your grandmother made and insisted you try when you were five and you’ve hated it ever since? That cake that has become the brunt of many jokes about door stops and bricks? Yes, that fruitcake! If made correctly, fruitcake is a moist, delicious fruit and nut studded cake. Our family loves it!!
As a child, my English mother would make Christmas fruitcake every November in a big square pan, wrap it in foil and store it in a gold tin. Every few days, she would unwrap it and pour sherry over the top. As Christmas Day drew near, she would cover it in marzipan or almond paste and ice it with royal icing. I use the same recipe as she did from the Five Roses Guide to Good Cooking– the only cookbook she owned and the cookbook that I first started cooking from as a young teenager.
Over the years, I’ve made some changes to the recipe – mostly increasing the amount of fruit & nuts and replacing run with the English sherry my mother used. And this time, I made it in individual Paper Loaf Baking Pans to give these as gifts for some of my favourite blogging friends.
Start your Christmas fruitcake about 4-6 weeks before the holiday. And it all starts before you even make the batter. The day before you want to bake your cake, soak the fruit in about 1/2 cup of dark rum (or sherry or whiskey or brandy – you get the idea). Doing this plumps up the raisins and softens the citrus peel besides adding flavour.
Here’s my version of this classic recipe:
- 3 cups seedless raisins
- 3 cups golden raisins
- 1 1/2 cups whole glace cherries
- 1 cup chopped citron peel
- 1 cup candied pineapple
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp mace
- 1 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup molasses
- Rum, Sherry or liquor of your choice
- 1/2 cup apple jelly or honey
- 8 oz. almond paste
- Mix all the fruit together in a large bowl and pour about 1/2 cup liquor over it. Stir till all the fruit is covered. Set aside and let soak for 12-36 hours.
- If using paper loaf pans, spray with non-stick spray. If using traditional metal pans, line with heavy waxed paper or brown paper. Use loaf, square of tube pans.
- To the bowl of fruit, add the nuts and toss together. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the flour and toss till coated. This prevents the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the pan while baking.
- In a separate bowl, mix the remaining flour and the other dry ingredients together.
- In a third bowl, cream the shortening with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs incorporating one at a time. Add the molasses and mix well. Blend in the dry ingredients and mix till incorporated. Then pour the batter over the fruit/nut mixture. Mix well being sure to cover all the fruit with batter.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pans to about 2/3 full. The cakes will not rise too much at all. Bake in a slow oven (300F) for about 1 1/2 hours for the small loaves and 2 hours for the larger pans. Place a shallow pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven for the last hour of baking.
- Cool. Leave the cakes in the paper loaf pans. Remove the cakes from the metal pans and then remove the paper from the cakes.
- Poke holes in the tops of each cake. Pour about 2 TBS of liquor on each of the cakes. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in a cool dark place. Every 3 or 4 days, unwrap and pour a bit more liquor over each cake. Repeat this process until a day or two before serving.
- Cover the cakes with marzipan and fondant: Roll out the marzipan to 1/4-1/2″ thickness on a board sprinkled with icing sugar. Heat the apple jelly or honey in the microwave for about 30 seconds till liquid. Brush the top of each cake with the jelly/honey so that the marzipan will stick. Cut the marzipan to fit the top of each cake and press it on top. Roll out the fondant on the same board until 1/8″ thick. Brush the top of the marzipan with water and press the fondant on top.
- Rewrap the cakes in plastic wrap until ready to serve.
You can easily buy marzipan/almond paste at a cake supply or bulk food store. Keep it wrapped until you are ready to cover the cakes.
I’ll be mailing the fruitcakes to a couple of my blogging friends here in Canada. To mail food like this, it’s important to make sure that the food is wrapped properly. Then protect them by adding stuffing material like this glittery shred or bubble wrap around the items.
Place it in a sturdy box like this one I found at the dollar store. Wrap the box in brown parcel paper and head to the post office. Hope my friends enjoy their fruitcake gifts!
Now it’s time for some more DIY Christmas gift ideas from my Canadian
blogging friends. Get ready for some wonderful handmade gift inspiration
for your holidays!
From the top, they are: