NaBloPoMo (11/2016) – Day 29: Fruitcake – It’s not just a doorstop anymore

We’ve all heard the horror stories that come around each Holiday season about ridiculously bad fruitcake. That cake that gets re-gifted time and time again because, really, no one wants it. Eventually, it simply doubles as a doorstop. It’s the stuff of legend – or urban legend.

Fortunately, my grandmother’s fruitcake was not fodder for the re-gifting set. Quite the opposite, in fact. People craved Gram’s fruitcake. I don’t like fruitcake and even I enjoyed a small bit of it each year.  So that’s really saying something.

Gram and her daughters would make it each year the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was a ritual. My aunts would come to the house (Mom and Gram would already be here, after all) and they would all work together to make the fruitcake. Each of them had a job to do. After Gram passed away, the fruitcake stopped.

In 2014, I decided I wanted to give it a try. So, I bought all of the ingredients and traipsed over to my aunt’s house. Together, we made a fruitcake. It was good. I made it by myself for the first time last year. I didn’t have any, but from the response I got from friends and family, I didn’t screw it up.

For the past two years, I’ve shared a holiday recipe as part of NaBloPoMo – Pound Cake and Italian Wedding Cookies. So, to keep that tradition going, I’m going to share Gram’s fruit cake recipe.

Ingredients

¾ Pound Butter
2 Cups white sugar
2 ¼ Cups brown sugar
6 Eggs
5 ½ Cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon ground mace
2 Cups Southern Comfort (or bourbon/whiskey of choice)
3 ½ Cups Pecan or Walnuts (chopped)
8 oz Candied Cherries (red and/or green)
8 oz Candied pineapples

 

(Pre-batter): Cut candied fruit into smaller pieces, if necessary. (i.e., whole cherries should be cut in half). Now you need to flour the candied fruit so that it will separate and not stick together. Choose one of the following methods for flouring the fruit:

  • Fill a large Ziploc bag one quarter full of all-purpose flour. Add some candied fruit. Seal the bag and shake gently until the candied fruit is lightly covered in flour. Place in a separate bowl. Repeat until all candies are floured.
  • Put the candied fruit in a large bowl. Add flour and mix until the candied fruit is lightly covered in flour and no longer sticking together.

Put the candied fruit to the side

In a LARGE mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Combine white and brown sugar thoroughly and gradually work the sugar mix into the butter, making it as smooth as possible.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs (preferably with an electric beater) until light and fluffy, then gradually beat into butter and sugar mix until it is smooth and creamy.

Combine flour, salt, and mace together. Add these and Southern Comfort gradually to the batter – ending and beginning with the flour mix. Beat at a LOW speed.

Stir nuts (pecans or walnuts) into batter.

Stir prepared candied fruit into batter.

Pour into a greased 10-inch tube pan and bake at 325° for 2 ¾ hours. It’s very likely that you’ll also need a loaf pan as this makes a LOT of batter.  If you don’t have a tube pan, you can make this in multiple loaf pans as well, you’ll just need to bake for less time. I recommend keeping an eye on things and testing the cake(s) starting at 1 ½ hours.

Let the cake cool in the pan(s) for 15 minutes. Then put on a cake rack to cool completely.

Wrap well in foil and store in the refrigerator. DO NOT FREEZE.

The cake will improve with age.

OPTIONAL – This was my grandmother’s trick, and I continue to use it.

  • Dip cheesecloth in Southern Comfort. Remove the excess, but don’t ring it out too thoroughly.
  • Wrap the cheesecloth around the fruitcake. (It doesn’t have to be completely around the whole cake, but do make sure to cover the top and sides.)
  • Wrap in foil.
  • Once a week, unwrap the cake and re-moisten the cheesecloth. If you’d like a stronger cake, use more Southern Comfort. If you don’t want it to be particularly strong, use less Southern Comfort and/or do this every couple of weeks.

Now, I do have to warn you – this cake can be potent. I once watched my mother and her two sisters eat a small loaf of this cake over a 6 hour period and they got SMASHED. And these women were not light-weights. So, my recommendation is this: Do not operate heavy machinery (like a car) after eating this fruitcake. I can get you testimonials if you don’t believe me.

fruitcake

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