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Light fruitcake vs. dark fruitcake? Or none at all?

Question of the day, on the scale of the hamentasch vs. latke debate....

Are you for fruit cake or against fruit cake? Present your case.

Me, I happen to like the stuff, to the historical derision of many friends.

I am the proud owner of multiple fruitcake recipes of 20s-era vintage, lovingly handed down for three generations. (OK, haven't made them for ten years or so. Time, effort, and a personal tendency to consume any leftovers!)

IMNSHO, a good fruit cake should be loaded with nuts, citron and candied lemon rind. Red marschiao cherries, please, no green ones.

I'm not so fond of the dark ones, although I can see their richness being more easily adapted to something elevated and organic. I haven't, however, been motivated enough to experiment.

What are your preferences? Light fruitcake? Dark fruitcake? Or none at all?

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  1. I'm with you. I actually like fruitcake. My favorite one that I made a few times is steamed then kept wrapped in cheesecloth in fridge for a month (dampening it every few days with sherry or dark rum). It's from an old Gourmet cookbook. My other fav. is a light fruitcake from Epicurious, made with dried pineapple, peaches, apples etc (not a traditional one...) moistened with bourbon. I don't like the commercial ones so much though.

    1. I love fruitcake. I make a light fruitcake that has all organic ingredients, raisins, currants, dried papaya, mango, pineapple, etc. from Whole foods, black coffee, grape jelly. After soaking fruits in coffee and grape jelly, add dry ingredients and after baking, pour bourbon over them and let sit for several weeks, pouring bourbon over it every few days.

      1. I'm all for fruitcake if I need to, say, ward off an invader to my home with blunt force to the head. Other than that, not so much! My MIL sent a fruitcake this year and i gave it to one of my clients- the client was SO thrilled it was hilarious! To each his own I guess!

        1. My neighbor makes it every year and just brought us some which I am enjoying at this very moment toasted and slathered in butter. His is of the light variety, he calles it stollen(?). I have never tried the dark, but this stuff makes great french toast.

          1. Black cake - that's the way to go! Marinate that fruit for weeks, months, however long you can do it. Burn your sugar and put the cake together and then make sure you keep it dampened with rum.

            Laurie Colwin described it best when she said that "black cake is bracing." She was so right.

            1. I love fruitcake, assuming it's made with dried fruit (not candied) and minimal sugar. I actually like it on the drier side and not too boozy.

              3 Replies
                1. re: piccola

                  When I make fruitcake (haven't for years) it's exactly that, with dried apricots/peaches/golden raisins/apples/pears maybe dates, with orange juice and whole wheat flour. It's on the tart side, but delicious.

                  1. re: MobyRichard

                    oooh, could you please share the recipe on home cooking?

                2. I love fruitcake. That is, I love my fruitcake, which is made by macerating 2 cups of dried fruit in gold rum, then adding a cup of sugar, spices, and toasted pecans. I can't take credit for the recipe, as its Alton Brown's. But I've made it for 2 years now, and its a huge hit. It's dark, dense, and delish. I personally run screaming from any kind of candied fruit version of the stuff.

                  1. I have to go with dark, moist and boozy for fruitcake. Dense, so one can make a very thin slice. Loaded with fruits and nuts.

                    And did I mention the booze? That soaking-plus-time makes incredible flavor.

                    And y'know? I really love the citron (probably my favorite fruit in the fruitcake - lovely bitterness). Not keen on the electric-green cherries.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: cayjohan

                      I'm with cayjohan here. Boozy and dark, with green chunks and all the rest.

                      My great-grandma made hers every year shortly after Christmas, wrapped'em in cheesecloth, put'em in tins, and doused them once or twice a month with brandy (the ONLY time the old dear ever touched the stuff). Then ours would come in the mail a week before Christmas, to be doled out one tiny slice at a time. Heaven!

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Do you reprise the recipe Will? Would you share? I am despairing of finding the dark, moist boozy recipe I crave, and get only once in a blue moon. Or less often, thinking on the expression.

                        1. re: cayjohan

                          Alas, that is one more grandmotherly recipe I never got. I think she kept it to herself, as my grandma Owen did with her killer fried chicken, and I wasn't really into cooking at the time. I will ask my sister, though, who has the box of recipes from Mom's side of the family. Don't get your hopes up, though - the recipe she has for grandma's famous oatmeal date bars is unworkable as written.

                          1. re: cayjohan

                            I have adapted my grandmother's Irish fruitcake recipe that she brought with her prior to 1900. If you'd like, I'll share this (the recipe, not the fruitcake) with you. It is dark, moist & boozy, just as Genevieve Fenwick Wickham mandated. We're enjoying some right now with a nice cuppa in front of the fire. It is a part of what makes this Christmas for me.

                          2. re: Will Owen

                            To Sherri and Will Owen:

                            I would love to have your recipes, especially as it is local-time around 2:45 a.m. and I am *still* prepping for tommorow's Christmas Eve Feast, and the Christmas Day Feast after that! Having recipes that I can do months in advance? Priceless, as the ad goes!

                            Really, I would very much like to make the dark-moist-boozy cakes I love for next year. I would appreciate any recipes you wish to share. Will, I think ( maybe) we share the same predilection for fruity-fruitcake. And Sherri, as my kids are of Irish descent and love that culture, your grandmother's recipe would be very welcome.

                            Send them along on-post if you can? I've got to start planning for Christmas 2007!


                            1. re: cayjohan

                              Cayjohan, I'll put it on the HOME COOKING board. Merry Christmas!

                        2. I don't guess I know enough about other people's fruitcake to be able to tell whether mine's light or dark or what. It's a recipe that came out of a cookbook I got from my mom with the rather ponderous title: "A Collection of the VERY FINEST RECIPES Ever Assembled into One Cookbook." It's basically fruit & nuts with enough batter to bind them together. The batter has grape jelly and brandy in it. After it's baked you pour some brandy over it, then wrap it in brandy-soaked rags for four months minimum.

                          My own fruitcake absolutely rocks! But it's not all pretty and glazed and covered with patterns of cherries & nuts. I cook them in mini loaf pans, about eight at a time (I took the recipe and cut it to 1/4 because it seemed like I'd be drowning in fruitcake if I made the whole recipe.)

                          I have a batch aging up in my linen closet right now. I didn't get them made till November, so they'll have to be for next Christmas, if I don't get them out before that (but not till after March...).

                          My husband continually ridicules me because I love my fruitcake. My parents also love it, and I have a friend here in town that I share it with from time to time. And there's a lady at my church that will pay top dollar for them when they're up on a bake sale or something.

                          1. I don't know if it is light or dark or what, but I love Alton Brown's fruitcake recipe. I must have made 6 loaves last year for my husband. We saved one and put it in a cool dark place last year and I'm going to get it out on Christmas Eve and see if it is any good. Supposedly if kept correctly, they last almost forever!