Seriously? Fruit Cake? That unwanted holiday treat that’s been fodder for every late-night comedian? Perhaps only less desired than aunt’s strangely knitted sweaters when you were growing up, it’s the gift that gets regifted into infinity with gooey sweetness.
Forget that version, this is Fruitcake 2.0–one packed with citrus vibrancy. with the only tradition to held over is the heavy soaking of fruit in alcohol. Let’s just say it’s high-spirited.
Fruitcake can be traced back to Roman times when the cake contained ingredients such as pomegranate seeds and pine nuts mixed with barley mash, spices, and honey. Preserved fruits were added during the Middle Ages; huntsmen liked to carry them through their long journey away from home.
Fruitcake became popular with the British during the 15th century when dried fruits from the Mediterranean were introduced. At the beginning of 18th century, fruitcake became a symbol of a successful harvest. Fruits and nuts from the current harvest would be made into cakes, which were saved until next year’s harvest when they would be consumed as a symbol of a successful harvest.
These cakes were actually banned at one time because of their excessive richness, most likely from the high alcoholic content. Queen Victoria brought the cakes back and tea time during that era would not be complete without a slice of decadent fruitcake.
Today, since we are not traveling for months on end and certainly do not have to eat the previous year’s cake for luck of a successful harvest, I’m taking the best part of the fruitcake and amp up the volume. I employed citrus, nature’s acid, to brighten up the sweetness and soaked the fruitcake TWICE with alcohol. This is definitely not the fruit cake that you regift. The only challenge is not to eat it too fast– it really does taste better after, at least, a day or two.
adapted from Cook’s Country
yield: One cake/serves 12
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup candies ginger, diced
1/4 cup currants
2 tablespoons Domaine de Canton (ginger liquor) or bourbon
2-3/4 cups ( 13-3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 oranges, remove peel with vegetable peeler, reserved. (Careful not to include white pith)
1 lemon, remove peel with vegetable peeler, reserved. (Careful not to include white pith)
1 lime, remove peel with vegetable peeler, reserved. (Careful not to include white pith)
Juice of 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
Juice of 1/2 lime, freshly squeezed
Orange juice, from 2 peeled orange, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon pure orange extract
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
5 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Bourbon-Butter Syrup, recipe to follow
1. Combine dried cranberries, raisins, apricots, currants, ginger and Canton in a medium bowl; toss to combine and let soak for 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to middle position. Spray 12-cup tube pan with cooking spray and dust with flour. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside. Combine lemon juice, lime juice and enough orange juice to measure 3/4 cup, and extracts in a separate bowl, set aside.
3. Process 1 cup of sugar, lemon, lime and orange peel in a food processor until finely ground. Add remaining sugar, butter, ginger and process until smooth. With the machine running, add eggs, one at a time; process until light in color. Transfer mixture into a large bowl.
4. Toss soaked dried fruit with 2 tablespoons of flour mixture, set aside. Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of the flour mixture, add juice mixture to combine. Fold in the rest of the flour mixture, dried fruits and walnuts until just combine. Scrape batter into the prepared tube pan and baked until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup ( 3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup bourbon
1. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, add butter and sugar; stir to combine and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and stir in bourbon.
2. When cake is done, remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a long wooden skewer, poke several deep holes all over the top of the cake. Slowly spoon a small amount of syrup over the cake. Let set for a few minutes and repeat until you use up all the syrup. (It might seems soggy, but the cake will eventually absorb it all and leave a glossy surface.)
3. Allow cake to cool completely in pan for at least 2 hours. Turn the cake out onto a cake stand or serving platter. Serve now or be good and wait for 24-48 hours to get an even tastier cake. (Store at room temperature for up to 5 days or longer in the refrigerator.)