Fruitcake is not a Dirty Word
Fruitcake is not a Dirty Word

The fruitcake has endured more than its share of mockery over the last several years. We here at the RELAXnation kitchens think all this nonsense has gone on long enough. A good traditional fruitcake, properly made, is an Epicurean’s delight. Especially when it includes a little spirit of the season, if you follow our meaning.

You know you’ve got hold of a good, solid traditional fruitcake recipe when the ingredient list is as long as your arm. These sorts of recipes date back hundreds of years in America, but their pedigree goes back to at least the High Middle Ages, when European bakers emptied their pantries of every last good thing they could possibly think of, and put them all into one giant, dense, dark cake: candies, fruits, sweeteners and spices of all kinds. It’s a tradition that’s well worth keeping up.

But, a great fruitcake can’t simply be thrown together. It takes time and nurturing. Below is our favorite recipe. It can be cut in half if you wish, but trust us, you’ll want to have plenty to hand around.

Day one:
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups currants
2 cups dried apricot halves
2 cups dried figs, halved
2 cups pitted dates
4 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups chopped pecans
Zest of 3 oranges
Zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup molasses
2 cups brandy (or rum)
1/2 cup orange juice

Combine all the dried fruits, nuts, zest ginger and spices in a large bowl. Toss well to mix. Add molasses, brandy (or rum) and OJ and mix well. Cover the mixture and let it macerate at room temperature overnight.

Day two:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 lb butter, softened
3 cups dark brown sugar
8 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 275°. Spray the inside of four, 9″x5″x3″ loaf pans with nonstick spray and line with wax paper or parchment. Spray again with cooking spray.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and the brown sugar with a large wooden spoon until light in color. Add eggs one or two at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter over the fruit and mix well. Divide the mixture among the pans and bake for 2 hours. They’re done when a toothpick or sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely on a rack, dribble more brandy (or rum) on top (or spritz it on with a spray bottle) then wrap each individual loaf, first in cheese cloth, then in foil. Keep them either in the refrigerator or in a Tupperware container in a cool spot in the basement of your house. Every day or so, inspect the loaves. Check for dryness and spritz with brandy as needed. Do this for a couple of days or a couple of weeks (the cake’s flavor will improve with time).

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