Almost everyone has a strong opinion about fruitcake. It is one of those desserts that there is no in-between, you will find the “love them” group and “hate them” group in every bunch. For the love them group, it as much a traditional part of the holidays as the tree, the holly and Santa Claus.
Many cultures have a rich, fruit-filled cake that is baked only on special holidays. The Germans have their “Stollen,” the Italians their Christmas “pannetone.” In Russia it’s “kulich,” the Czechs make “vanochka,” to name only a few. Some are breads, with a yeast base; others are cakes. Some have lots of candied fruits, raisins and nuts, others not so much.
My family being Italians, had the pannetone as our “fruit cake” for the holidays, but my paternal nonna (grandmother) adopted the heavy, boozy cake when she moved to Venezuela. She started almost 6 months before Christmas. Soaking all the fruit in a huge jar, full of booze and then she would store it in the highest shelf in the hallway bookcase, feeding more booze every month until she used the whole thing to bake numerous cakes in December.
My regular readers know my strong dislike to any dessert that has fruit in it, I will bake you the most delicious pie, cake, tart, or even cookie – but if it has fruit in it – nope, no way will I touch it, in fact if I have a choice I will probably not even make it. A banana bread is the only thing that will get pass in this fruit aversion of mine.
Then I meet my husband, who goes all crazy over anything with fruit in it.
To make our marriage work, we have agreed to disagree on this point.
So you can imagine how the conversation went when I called out our next choice from The Baking Bible bake-along.
Tom: so what is this weekends choice?
Me: It’s an English Fruit Cake – yuck
Tom: Oh, yeah – I don’t like fruitcake, those candied fruit and heavy cake, really not my thing.
The.world.stop.moving – whaatttt?
Be.still.my.heart - I think I fell in love with my husband all over again! Yeah, I had him finally in my corner with the fruit thing.
You bet cha that I totally did a happy dance around the table.
Then, I had to come clean and tell him that this recipe was a bit different and instead of those neon color fruit, the recipe called for real and dry fruit instead. (bummer)
He agreed to give it a try, but he still did not have high hope for it.
Since the point of reference was my nonna’s fruitcake going into this, I figure this was going to be one of those prep-for-days-before deal thing. But, I was surprise when I read the whole recipe and discovered it seem pretty easy peasy.
You don’t even have to break out the Kitchen Aid mixer for this. Just a couple of bowls (I had a flashback of Heavenly cake when I started to see that I needed a bowl for this and a bowl for that) and a spoon.
You start by toasting pecans (next time I may use almonds, or walnuts instead)
Then you move to the sugars and butter.
This cake is a boiled cake – meaning that instead of creaming the butter and sugar, the butter is melted and then the sugar(s) - we are using both caster and dark muscovado sugar – are added. I remember reading somewhere, this trick gives a lighter and moister cake as an end result (more on that later).
For my dry fruit combo, I used apricots, sultan raisins, dry cherries, apples and currants. The recipe calls to soak them in hot water. I went off script and decided to soak them overnight in rum. I placed the dried fruit in a saucepan with rum (you can use any booze you like) and brought it to a simmer. Then I let them soak overnight covered with a kitchen towel. Then the next day, I removed the fruit and use the leftover liquid to soak the finished cake.
In addition to the dry fruit, there is also fresh apple, cut into smaller pieces and sprinkle with a bit of lemon. Then you add orange zest, the eggs and mix all that until combined - you got your wet part of this cake all set to go.
Next up - your dry ingredients – Flour, baking power, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together in a bowl. Made complete by tossing the dry fruit and pecans into it, then dumping the whole thing into your butter/sugar wet mixture.
A couple of folding strokes later and you got your batter all set to go. Pour into your prepare baking pan and into the oven for 40-45 minutes.
Once done (and trust me you will smell it) out of the oven and unto a wire rack to cool off before you un-mold it. Then the good part comes – soaking your cake (this is optional, but I highly recommend that you do not skip it), Rose uses rum.. but if you do a google search - you will find that rum is not your only option to boozy-up this cake.
The whole thing took me less than 2 hours – compare to last weeks 6+ doing the Kouign Amann and it got my thumbs up.
Tasting results – Tom loved it. Hear that Rose, you converted my husband to your fruit cake. As far as me – it was an improvement from the awful, syrupy neon candy fruit cake. But, it has fruit in it, so yeah, nothing to be done, not my favorite. I do however have to point out that it was moist and light and the rum gave it a nice boozy touch, which is always a good thing in my book with cakes.
As always, no recipe can be shared during the bake-along, but I can share a couple of others, that I found during my google research that are very similar to Rose’s recipe:
You can check out the rest of The Baking Bible Alpha Bakers doing their stuff by stopping at the bake along blog.
Disclaimer: As previously noted, No recipes are shared in my Cake Bible posts, due to restrictions in sharing the recipes by the publisher of Rose’s The Baking Bible. But, you can support me and her by purchasing the book