The height of my year is when I make my traditional Christmas fruitcakes. To me, it has taken on the form of a ritual: buying the fruits, chopping the fruits, making my own almond flour, toasting the nuts, baking the cakes and aging them. I usually bake my fruit cakes around the 3rd week in September and age them for 3 months so they are ready for Christmas. The result of all my labour: bar none, the best cake you would ever eat. It is a fruitcake in the true meaning of the word as it has a total of 1,020 Grams of fruits packed tightly in an 8 inch pan with just enough flour to hold them all together. It is moist and rich and once you start eating it, it’s gonna be all gone. OK, enough of my rambling on and on, lets bake a fruitcake or two. This is an adaptation of a recipe by Nigel Slater
(1) 226 Grams Unsalted Butter (1 Cup)
(2) 110 Grams Light Brown Sugar (1/2 Cup)
(3) 110 Grams Dark Brown Sugar (1/2 Cup)
(4) 3 Large Eggs
(5) 3 Tablespoons Rum (See Note 1 Below) You will need more liquor for aging.
(6) The Zest of 1 Lemon
(7) The Zest and Juice of 1 Orange (See Note 2 Below)
(8) 65 Grams Almond Flour (1/2 Cup) (See Note 3 Below)
(9) 260 Grams All Purpose Flour (2 Cups)
(10) 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
(11) 100 Grams Pecans or Almonds (See Note 4 Below)
(12) 340 Grams Mixture of Dried Raisins, Sultanas, Currants and Cranberries
(13) 680 Grams Mixed Dried Fruits (Dates, Figs, Cherries, Apricots, Prunes, etc), Candied Citrus Peel and Glace Cherries (See Note 5 Below)
(14) 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
(1) Though this recipe calls for Rum, you can use any liquor of your choice: White Rum, Spiced Rum, Whiskey, Brandy, Grand Marnier, etc). This rule also applies to the aging process. I have read it somewhere that orange juice can be used, this however to me is a no no as I feel alcohol is a very important part of fruit cakes.
(2) This recipe calls for the juice of 1 orange. There is no universal measurement for how much juice there is in each orange fruit. Each orange fruit however has an average of 1/3 Cup of Juice. You can use this as a guide to know whether or not you have enough juice.
(3) Almond flour can be bought in stores in the baking isle. To make your own almond flour, simply place blanched almonds in a food processor and blend. Read Baking Solution 4 here on how to prevent your almond flour from clumping together.
(4) Nuts should be chopped before use. In order to improve taste of nuts, toast them for about 8 minutes and allow to cool down before using.
(5) There is no limit to the types of fruits you can use here. Make a selection of your favorite types of dried fruits. However, the most popular fruits used for fruit cakes are prunes, apricots, figs and dates. You can buy your fruits pre-chopped or buy them whole and chop them like I do. It is also possible to buy already premixed chopped fruits. You will notice that there are different measurements for the fruits. This ratios should be followed as closely as possible.
Note: I have made this cake using only raisins, sultanas, currants and mixed peel and it came out great.
(6) You will need an 8 inch spring form or removable bottom cake pan with high sides for this recipe. To prepare pan, grease sides and bottom with butter or spray and cover sides and bottom with parchment paper. The parchment paper should extend about an inch above the cake pan for extra security.
Before starting, be sure you have enough time on your hands because this cake is not only labor intensive but takes a lot of time. You will need about 30 minutes to measure out and prepare all your ingredients (make room for more time if you are chopping your fruits yourself). The cake takes 2 hrs 30 minutes to bake at various temperatures and at least 6 hours to cool down completely before wrapping and storing.
(1) Measure out all your ingredients. Chop fruits and nuts, squeeze orange juice. Make almond flour, etc.
(2) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
(3) Line your cake pan as explained in Note 6 above.
(4) In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and orange and lemon zests together.
(5) In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Then add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
(6) Next, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
(7) After incorporating the eggs, add the orange juice and the rum and mix. The batter will separate at this point, don’t panic, it’s OK. This is due to uneven liquid-dry ingredients ratio.
(8) With the mixer running on low speed, add the almond flour, chopped nuts and all the dried fruits.
(9) Finally add the flour mixture to the batter and mix until combined. Take the mixing bowl off the sand mixer and complete mixing the batter with a spatula. This is a very thick batter and you have to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
(10) Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and level the top with a spatula. Be sure to press down the batter when placing it in the pan so that there are no large air bubbles in the cake. Tap the pan a few times on your counter top to further eliminate air bubbles.
(11) Place the baking pan on a baking tray and bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour. After an hour, reduce the oven heat to 300 degrees and bake for another 1 hour 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
NOTE: If testing with a toothpick, take note that you might run it through some fruits on its way down which might result in it appearing moist. This does not however mean that the cake is still raw or uncooked.
(12) Place baked cake on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Leave it in the pan for about 3 hours before taking it out so as not to disrupt the shape of the cake. Continue cooling the cake after it has been out of the pan. This cake takes about 6 hours to cool completely. It is ready when it is cool to the touch and not warm.
HINT: I usually start baking mine at about 9 pm at night. It is out of the oven at 12 midnight. And stays on my counter until 6 or 7 am the next morning after which I wrap it.
This cake is best when allowed to age. I have a tutorial here on how to properly wrap a fruit cake and store it. I age mine for 3 months before eating it. I would advice that you age it for at least 2 months before consuming.
This year, I decided to try out three new Christmas Fruit Cake recipes: the Creole Christmas Fruitcake, a Southern Fruitcake and a Caribbean Black Fruitcake. You can find the recipe for the Creole Fruitcake here.
For a Southern Fruitcake, click here.
For Caribbean Black Fruitcake, click here