A tradition that I’ve started in the past couple of years has been to make and gift fruitcakes to my family. It’s taken me a few years, but I think I’ve finally found a recipe that I like.
It’s nut-less, more cakey than fruity, and because I rinse all the glace fruit and soak my raisins before adding them in, it’s not nearly as sweet as it would have been otherwise (although, there are still those who find it too sweet). Also, rather than using brandy to soak the cakes, I prefer amaretto. It just gives a little bit extra without the crazy-strong alcohol fumes that I get from my mom’s preferred recipe for dark fruitcake.
Because I use mine for gifts, I make them in smaller containers, and at a multiple of the recipe below. This year I made 1.5x the recipe, twice, so I could have just done 3x, but space and lack of bowls made it impractical. My 1.5x yielded 8 cakes @ 400 grams (the gifts – approximately 6″ tube cakes) + 1 extra cake @ 450 grams (for me… you know… to sample).
- 900 grams (total) raisins, craisins, glace fruit, candied citron in a combination that you like
- 600 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 345 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 380 grams granulated sugar
- 4 medium eggs. room temperature
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 250 mL milk (I used skim milk)
To make the fruitcakes:
- If using raisins or craisins, rehydrate them by soaking in water overnight. Alternatively, what I did was to put mine into a saucepan, cover with water, and set on the stove until the water came to a boil; I then turned off the stove and let the water cool before continuing.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease & flour the pans, place on baking sheets and set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the rehydrated raisins and candied fruits (I rinsed and drained my rehydrated and glace fruits in hot water to get rid of some of the syrup first, otherwise for me, it would have been waaaayyyy too sweet). Add about 1 cup of the 600 grams of flour and stir so that all the fruits are coated with flour.
- Whisk the baking powder and salt into the rest of the flour and set the dry ingredients aside. Add the almond extract to the milk, and set that aside as well.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until it’s a very pale, almost white color.
- Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl between each egg.
- Alternate adding the flour mixture with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients (Flour-milk-flour-milk-flour).
- When the flour is completely incorporated, remove the batter from the stand mixer and add it to the bowl containing the flour-coated fruits and mix by hand with a wooden spoon or strong spatula until the fruit and batter are evenly distributed.
- Divide the batter among the pans and bake them for about 30 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
At this point, while the cakes were still warm, I brushed them generously with a mixture of Amaretto and orange juice. The drenching liquid will soak in really well while the cakes are warm, and help to keep them moist. After they have cooled, cover lightly with plastic wrap; every few days, brush with more Amaretto. After the first soak, I used straight Amaretto, and if the oven happened to be on, I would pop them back in to warm up before brushing, but if the oven wasn’t on, no big deal. The cakes are actually ready to eat right when they come out of the oven, and the extra step(s) of drenching aren’t strictly necessary (to me), but because I needed to hold these for a couple of weeks, I think they age better with a bit of booze ;-)