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Oct 29, 2002 07:46 AM

Does anyone like fruitcake?

  • s

The holidays are upon us, better drag that fruitcake that aunt Gladys gave us (two years ago) out of the basement, rewrap it, and send it to some cousin who you don't really like anyway.

Does anyone out there (other then my father) actually like fruitcake?

Also could not resist adding a link to my favorite fruitcake recipe ;-).

I have heard that there is actually such thing as a good fruitcake, unlike the nasty commercial green candied fruit laden monstrosities I have had in the past. Has anyone eaten one?


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  1. Glad you asked. I ran across a bunch of delicious fruit cake recipes in a magazine (probably Gourmet) about 10 years ago. Made several small and beautiful (and expensive to make) chocolate fruit cakes. Basically a very dense, fudgy cake with dates, raisons, dried figs and nuts and soaked in liquour.

    Gave one to my boss at the time who made a very obnoxious comment about fruit cakes. I'm STILL pissed.

    1. I have... but it has to be made right.

      The fruit mostrosities you speak of are not what I know as fruitcake. My mother used to make what I figure to be the British Christmas cake, similar to a carrot cake in texture with a thick, fondant-like icing on top.

      I have even made the Carribean equivalent, called black cake, and it was very tasty. Also similar to carrot cake but uses Sweet Potatoes instead.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gary Rolin

        Yes. The great tasting British Christmas cake. I remember my neighbour likes his with the traditional layer of marzipan but without the fondant. It remains deliciously moist but not over sweet.

      2. Funny you should ask. I LOVE fruitcake, but only good fruitcake. There should be a law against the stuff you're talking about.

        I do huge amounts of baking/preserving around the holidays -- cookies, nut brittles, fruit loaves, jarred sauces and jellies, homemade liqueurs -- all for gifting friends and family. A few years ago, I made some fruitcakes from a recipe in Saveur, very labor-intensive & time-consuming (I even candied my own orange and lemon peel). Sometime in January I was chatting with a friend whose family had been the lucky (I thought) recipients of one of the cakes and some jam and cookies. She gushed about how delicious the cookies were & how they loved the jam on their pancakes, but that THEY'D THROWN AWAY THE FRUITCAKE because they "weren't really fruitcake people". I near 'bout blew a valve over that one. Needless to say, they are no longer on my recipient list.

        A note to those of you who "aren't really fruitcake people": if you don't like fruitcake, that's just fine, but if someone GIVES you a fruitcake, give it right back. It might be one of those awful fruitcakoid substances, but it might also be something they spent untold hours and lots of heart on. And if you don't want it, there's someone else out there who does. Really. I, for one, wouldn't be the least bit insulted.

        2 Replies
        1. re: GG Mora

          Reposted from 2000:

          I used to make fruitcake every year and mail it to all the relatives (mostly my ex-husband's). It was a huge project, like, it took an entire weekend. Everyone was grateful, but these people were the sort who sent you a card back, not food, so when I got divorced I gladly stopped the process. It probably would have been less trouble to make a reasonable sized batch.

          I've dug out the old cookbook I got it from. The original recipe is called "Old Alabama Fruitcake". From the start I banished all ingredients that looked like plastic (candied fruit) and substituted for them assorted dried fruit of the sort you can get at the natural food store. It is necessary to cut the pieces up small, which I did with a sturdy pair of kitchen shears--wear a work glove on that hand to prevent blisters. Other changes I've made to the original recipe are to substitute molasses and/or honey for the white sugar called for, and to cut back on the butter, which would run off in the oven and make an awful smoky mess.

          At the fruitcake recipe in the cookbook I found a sheet of paper with "1980" on one side and "1981" on the other, so I'm working from my original notes here.
          For dried fruit, here's what I listed.
          [6 ounces dates
          1/4 pound each white and black figs
          1/4 pound dried apricots
          6 ounces pound dried apples
          1/2 pound dried currants
          3/4 pound muscat raisins
          1/2 pound raisins
          3/4 pound golden raisins]

          I'm sure I would have also used dried pears and pineapple also. Just buy an assortment of non-candied dried fruit of your choosing.

          Old-Fashioned Fruitcake

          1 pound fresh cranberries
          6-1/4 pounds of assorted dried fruit
          3 sticks butter, at room temperature
          2 cups honey
          1 cup molasses
          1 dozen eggs
          1 cup brandy, rum, or bourbon
          1 cup rosewater--I bought at a drugstore back then
          4 cups flour
          1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
          grated rind of 2 oranges
          1 pound pecans
          1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
          1 teaspoon salt

          First, cut up fruit into 1/2 inch pieces with wet kitchen shears. Mix together with cranberries and nuts.

          Cream butter until light Beat in honey and molasses, eggs, then rosewater, vanilla, and orange rind.
          Mix nutmeg and salt with flour, then sprinkle over dried fruit and mix in thoroughly with your hands. Add floured fruits to batter and mix thoroughly. Grease 4 9x5x3 inch loaf pans, line with baking parchment, and grease paper. Spread batter in pans. Bake at 225 degrees for about 3 hours. Cake will be crumbly. Cool cake in pans overnight to set. Let cake get very cold. Wrap cakes in white towel paper (cheesecloth is traditional), place in plastic bags, and add an ounce of liquor to each bag. Replenish if it is all absorbed and the bag becomes dry. The recipe recommends aging for at least 1 week, or 3 months if possible.

          This cake is very fragrant and flavorful, not like any you have purchased. I definitely recommend locating the rosewater. Probably you can get it at a Middle Eastern store.

          1. re: ironmom

            can make your own Rosewater.
            Take Flower leafes of rins under cold water.give in a pot and cover withe Water,bring to a boile,let stand to get cold and pore over a cleane Hanky.Know you have Rosewater.I hope i help't you.Let my know.
            Happy Xmex.Reny

        2. Yes, I actually adore good fruitcake--probably because I had it, thinly sliced and delicious, on a green lawn in England for tea in the flower of my youth. It saddens me, all those mean fruitcake jokes. June Taylor, a wonderful Englishwoman who makes fabulous organic jams and preserved fruits in Oakland, CA , makes a marvellous fruitcake, sans those horrible glaceed cherries and pineapple hunks. You can probably order it on her website.


          1. I normally hate fruitcake. But my late aunt made a wonderful light fruitcake that I loved dearly. Unfortunately, the recipe was lost with her, as it were.

            A few years ago, I finally adapted and cobbled together a couple of different recipes to produce a light fruitcake like the one I now only vaguely remember. People normally love this cake: it gets eaten within a day at work, often very fast.

            So, for the fruitcake-wary among you, here is my personal recipe:

            Light Fruitcake (no brandy, nuts, citron or icky candied fruit!)


            3 cups all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup cornstarch (or 3.5 cups cake/pastry flour)

            1/4 teaspoon salt

            Optional spices: allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace (perhaps a teaspoon each; freshly ground, grated or crushed if possible), and perhaps a couple of cloves, crushed

            Roughly one pound of chopped/diced dried fruit of your choice, such as Calimyrna figs, pears, blueberries, cranberries, tart cherries, golden raisins, currants, dates, apricots, pineapple, apple, mangoes, and papayas. (Tip: Chop any large pieces of dried fruit with scissors or a knife coated with cooking spray.)

            A tablespoon or so of fresh tangerine/orange or lemon zest. (I prefer tangerine/orange zest for this purpose, but lemon will do.)

            Cider, fruit juice or nectar to cover the dried fruit and zest (bring to a boil and turn heat off; let the fruit absorb the liquid for at least 20 minutes and then drain)

            2 cups granulated sugar (you may substitute some dark sugar if you want the cake to look darker, but you need to use a bit more dark sugar in replacing as it is less sweet)

            1/2 cup sweet (unsalted) butter, softened

            1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened

            1 tablespoon genuine vanilla extract

            4 large eggs

            2 large egg whites

            1 cup sour cream

            1 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder)

            1 tablespoon powdered/confectioner’s sugar (optional)

            Equipment: 12-cup Bundt pan; mixer (a stand-up mixer with a dough hook is greatly helpful,); whisk & large spatula; 4 bowls

            Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; set aside.

            Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt (and spices, if you add them) in a bowl to remove lumps; set aside.

            Combine dried fruits with 1/4 cup flour mixture in another bowl, tossing to coat.

            Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients (sugar through vanilla) in a large bowl or in a standup mixer, and beat at medium speed of mixer until well blended (about 5 minutes if using a hand mixer, less if using a higher powered standup mixer).

            Add eggs and egg whites to the foregoing mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition; this builds necessary air into the cake, which is otherwise not leavened except by the baking soda.

            In another bowl, combine sour cream and baking soda; stir well.

            Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in the mixing bowl, alternating with adding sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix well after each addition.

            Gently fold in dried fruit mixture (if you are using a mixer, switch to the dough hook by this point – otherwise, you’ll need to use a large spatula).

            Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.

            Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Servings: 24 slices