How to Age a Fruit Cake.

Southern Fruitcake

Southern Fruitcake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As anyone who has tried it would testify, baking a traditional Christmas fruitcake is a lot of work. It is thus very important to know how to store them correctly so as not to end up with dried out cakes. My very first Christmas fruit cake was as dry as a stone after 3 months of aging. Well, I learnt from that experience and I am going to show you below how to properly age a fruitcake.

For a traditional fruit cake recipe, click here.

 

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(1) LABEL:

Yes, always label your fruit cakes with at least the date of production. This will help you know the age of your fruit cakes and monitor their aging process. This is especially useful when you have more than 1 fruit cake to age. It is also helpful to write a few details about the cake like type of aging alcohol, types of nuts or any special spice or ingredients you might have included in it.

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(2) SEALING:

Sealing your fruit cake properly is very important. Fruit cakes should only be exposed to air when they are being fed with alcohol, which should happen about once a week. At other times, they should be properly wrapped and stored in air tight containers. Sealing them properly will also prevent organisms from growing or thriving in and on your fruit cake.

To seal a fruit cake, I usually wrap it in 3 layers. The first layer consists of cling film.

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The second layer consists of foil paper. Ensure that the cake does not come in contact with the foil paper or it would affect the taste of the cake.

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The third and final layer consist of a plastic bag which would wrap the entire cake.

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The wrapped cake is then placed in a cake tin with a tight fitted lid.

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Trust me, this is not me overdoing it. These various stages of wrapping and sealing are important.

(3) FEEDING:

Feeding fruit cakes is very important. This is what ages them and keeps them moist. The fruits in the cake need alcohol to age properly. The duration for which you age them is up to you. I usually age mine for 3 months. I won’t suggest aging them for less than 2 months.

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The alcohol you use to age your fruit cake is also up to you. You have a choice of white rum, spiced rum, brandy, whiskey, cognac or liqueurs like Grand Marnier. Grand Marnier happens to be my aging liquor of choice because its citrus flavor goes well with the citrus notes in the fruit cake.

 

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Your cakes should be fed about once a week with alcohol. The easiest way to do this is with spray bottles. You also need to poke holes on top of the cake so that the liquor can get to the bottom of the cake. Failure to do this might lead to soggy cake tops and dry bottoms. Ensure that you use clean skewers to poke the holes as dirty skewers will introduce gems and bacteria to the fruit cake.

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(4) TEMPERATURE:

Fruit cakes should be stored in a cool dry place. DO NOT store them in the fridge as this will halt the aging process. Fruit cakes will get spoiled if exposed to too much heat. This is why the last quarter of the year is the best time to make them. I would recommend storing them in a cupboard, pantry or closet. I keep mine in my coat closet as this is the coolest place in my house with very little traffic and the door is always closed.

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All the best with your own Christmas Fruit Cakes

Creole Christmas Fruitcake

Creole Christmas Fruitcake

Terry Adido is passionate about showing people how easy it is to recreate restaurant quality meals in the comfort of their kitchens. With a style of cooking he refers to as Afro-European Fusion, his meals are influenced greatly by French and Italian Cuisine with a West African twist. If you love good food, you are in for the ride of your life.

114 comments on “How to Age a Fruit Cake.
  1. Naomi says:

    Thanks Terry for the wonderful tips.

  2. biola dare says:

    Thank you.

  3. afoma says:

    Whats the reason for aging a fruit cake,i dont understand why? Is it a traditional thing over there like the xmas turkey too?

  4. Blessing says:

    thanks Big Bro

  5. Amarachi says:

    Wow! Never heard of ageing cakes. We learn everyday. Nice work. Would love to taste an aged cake to experience d difference

  6. Micheal titilayo deborah says:

    This is extremely wonderful.Thank you so much

  7. Francis Eunice says:

    Tenx a million tyms

  8. Gift says:

    so true have a fruit cake from 2012 dec taste gets beta with age n i feel its an healthier version cos its more fruits dan flour n sugar

  9. Afonja Folasade says:

    Bro Terry,thanks a million times for reminding me of this great and wonderful tips that goes a long way in baking the right way.God bless you.

  10. Augusta says:

    Yea, I age my fruit cakes too. Tastes better with age

  11. Iyobo says:

    Thanks for the tips. But what else can i use to store them if i don’t have cake tins?

  12. rahmatallahi muh awwal says:

    but Terry, you never finish whatever dey inside that cup which you have been drinking since all this years? @ ur dp #okbye

  13. marttytaste says:

    nice

  14. nnenna says:

    Terry hi. Pls my sponge cakes n marble cakes stale n spoils within 2-3days. Pls help me cos I’m losing confidence in dis business.

  15. Mercy says:

    Are these cakes same as what eat in wedding?

  16. inem says:

    What quantity of alcohol do u need each time u spray the cake and do u poke the holes for each time

    • Terry Adido says:

      Hi. (1) I give each fruitcake about 20 good sprays. What you do not want to see is alcohol swamping on the top of the cake. This would make the top soggy. (2) Usually, I poke only once. But if as it ages you feel you need to poke more holes, do so. This is especially so if you notice alcohol swamping at one portion of the cake.

  17. Omah says:

    Hi Terry. Please do I still have any hope of baking Christmas fruit cake this weekend. You recommended aging the fruit cake for at least two months.

    • Terry Adido says:

      Hi. You can. It won’t however be as moist and delicious as when you age it for long. I would suggest the Caribbean Black Fruitcake or Pina Colada Fruitcake as those do not necessarily require lengthy aging.

  18. Atinuke Rasheed says:

    thank for this aging cake tutorial may lord continue to strengthen you terry

  19. Olumedinat says:

    Hi terry,you are so blessed. Is it important to soak fruity in brandy for other cakes? Can I also use preservative for my fruit cake instead of soaking d fruits in brandy…..tanks

  20. Olumedinat says:

    Okay,thanks so much.

  21. Julian says:

    Hi, am just starting a cake business and i would want to venture into aged fruit cakes for functins as is the tradition in my country. I was wondering if i could just inject the cake at various points with alcohol instead of spraying?

    • Terry Adido says:

      That is also possible. The advantage of spraying is that the alcohol gets evenly distributed. Injecting might not achieve the same effect. Using a spoon to drizzle over might be a better alternative to injecting.

  22. Ngozi says:

    hello Terry thanks for sharing. I have a question though, won’t the cake get spoilt before the end of the aging process since alcohol is not for preservation?

  23. dennise kay says:

    hie Terry thank you for the tips a question though the traditional cake would it be ideal for a wedding cake and when do i bake it if i want it to be for a wedding in december and to at least stay a year after i have persented it for the wedding

  24. ngozi says:

    Thanks for the clarification. But my my brother, please I need help. We all know that some vanilla cakes that just melts in your mouth with this distinct taste. No body is willing to share this recipe on how that result is achieved. Please kindly help me out. Thanks.

  25. Adekunle Omobola Kareem says:

    Just stumbled on your blog now.God bless you really good and enlarge you. I have a wedding cake for 2nd week in September. Can I bake now and age with your method and if I do will I still get the same result as yours or almost same result.

  26. serah says:

    wow! this is a great find! you’re doing a great job i can tell from all the comments. hope to learn a lot here and need to know if you have new sletter when ever you write something new?

  27. Joe Kubicek says:

    The fruit & nuts for the Caribbean Black have now soaked for about four weeks, and today is baking day. I’ve read that this cake does not NEED to be aged, but can be. We are going to give aging a try, but are wondering, should Caribbean Black be “fed”, as traditional fruitcakes are?

  28. Kankmwa Salako says:

    Dear Terry, I have two questions:

    1. I would like to know when the Traditional Christmas Fruitcake should be fed with alcohol for the first time after it has been baked.

    2. Once fed with alcohol, should the cake be wrapped up again immediately and stored away again or does it need to sit out unwrapped for a given period of time?

    Thank you.

  29. Kankemwa Salako says:

    Dear Terry,

    Thank you for answering all my other questions. I have a couple more:

    1. Does a plastic bowl with firm lid, as opposed to a tin, work for storing a cake that is ageing or not?

    2. What other types of cakes would benefit from being wrapped and stored in a tin in this way? (with or without ageing with alcohol)

    3. I would like to reduce the overall quantity of sugar used in your “Traditional Christmas Fruitcake” – dark and light brown sugar respectively. If you feel this can be done without affecting the integrity of the cake overall, what reduced quantities would you suggest? (I am thinking 1/4cup each, however I may be wrong).

    Regards.

  30. Okonkwo charity says:

    Wow, have to try out dis Christmas cake recipe

  31. Barbara says:

    Hi. Pls is it possible to air dry the mixed fruits (just before mixing them with the flour) after they must have been soaked in alcohol overnight? Many thanks.

  32. Donna C says:

    Terry, I have three fruit cakes aging now, soon to be ready for their first feeding after the initial alcohol (rum) dowsing. I haven’t made fruit cake in several years and have a question just to clarify my process. In the past, I have wrapped my cakes as my grandmother did: first in 100% cotton muslin rum saturated cheese cloths which I made myself as she always did. Next, I wrapped them in several layers of plastic wrap. Final wrapping is a heavy layer of foil since I don’t happen to have any tins at this moment. My question for my own ‘clarity’ is: When I unwrap the cakes for their feeding, I normally don’t unwrap the cheese cloth and just spray them through it. In the past, I aged them in nice glass bowls with tight fitting lids and didn’t disturb the cloth covered cakes. I simply gave them as gifts, bowl, lid and all. Again, this year, not having tins etc., and having wrapped them as I did, when I open them for their additional rum feedings, should I re-wrap the in fresh plastic wrap/foil or just re-wrap the same layers of same? Cheese cloths will have bee left undisturbed as in the past, of course. Open to any suggestions you may offer and thanks in advance.

    • Terry Adido says:

      Hi Donna, thanks for your mail. The soaked muslin or cheesecloth method is a popular one. To answer your question, I have never tried aging a fruitcake without placing it in a sealed container. Air is the enemy when it comes to aging fruitcakes. If you want to use just plastic wraps and foil paper, air might still get to the cake through creases and possible holes made in the foil through unwrapping and wrapping. I would suggest that you add another layer of security by tying the cakes in plastic bags after sealing with foil paper to make sure air is completely cutoff.

      • Donna C says:

        Hello Terry, Well, my three muslin wrapped fruit cakes turned out fabulous. Let me clarify, First. I wrapped the cakes in unbleached muslin fabric which I keep around strictly for food preps of various types. Then, I sprayed them with rum. Next I wrapped them in cling wrap (popular brand here in my corner of the east coast USA is ‘Saran Wrap’). After that, I wrapped them in heavy duty foil and put them into large bowls with the rubber strips in the locking/sealing channel and pressed down the locking wings on all sides. Perfectly sealed!!! Since I wasn’t entertaining at all (for the first time in decades) this season, I waited till after the holidays to send one to my mother who is 85 and one of the only other people I know who loves fruit cake as much as I do. She was thrilled.

        Now, on to my real question. If aging a fruit cake for an extended period of time such as you describe, do you continue to feed it the entire time? If not, when do you stop? If you so continue to feed it, how much? Do you continue as is or do you reduce the amount of liquor used? Do you continue to keep it at room temperature in your tins or do you refrigerate or freeze it? And, last, most important, how on earth do you resist the urge to just dig in and eat it? LOL!

        • Terry Adido says:

          Hi Donna, thanks for sharing your method with us. Sounds perfect!

          Now to your question, I do not believe aging fruitcakes for long require continuous feeding with alcohol. I believe they reach a point of saturation at some point. I would usually transfer my fruitcakes to the fridge after about 6 – 8 months of aging and leave them there until needed. They keep well. I have also read about other methods of long aging which involves wrapping the cakes in alcohol-soaked muslin fabric and burying them in icing sugar for up to a year in a sealed container. I am however yet to try this method.

          As for resisting the urge to dig in, its tough!

  33. Tom says:

    Hi Terry,

    I’ve just made my mother’s white fruit cake. It’s a cake that uses 16 beaten-stiff egg whites and two pounds candied fruit (cherries, pineapple, lemon and orange peal). It also contains coconut, lemon zest and slivered/blanched almonds. One key ingredient is 2 teaspoons sherry extract – which is now very difficult to find outside the commercial bakery market.

    For years I have struggled to re-create mom’s cake flavor and have finally settled on reducing 1/2 cup of drinking sherry to 2 teaspoons in a sauce pan (she passed away before her stash of McCormick’s sherry extract ran out many years ago). Also, she never used alcohol to age her cakes – just a month in the refrigerator, but now reading your post makes me want to age it more traditionally.

    Is it possible to use sherry in the aging process? It’s very easy to overdo it when making the cake – which I’ve done several times! Maybe reduce the amount up front? Also, would this type of cake work with other liqueurs like rum or whiskey? Thanks!

    • Terry Adido says:

      Hi Tom. Thanks for your mail. I would say yes to aging with sherry but only for a short period of time as the alcohol content in Sherry is not as high as in spirits. Any fruitcake can be aged with rum or whiskey. Its all a matter of preference.
      PS: Your mother’s white fruit cake recipe sounds great and interesting.

      • Seth says:

        Sherry does work. My grandmother (British) always used Sherry, Bristol Cream I think, and did the cheesecloth soaking thing every few weeks for months, starting in August or September. My mom and dad make it now, and soon I will (but, as a father I have failed, my kids don’t appreciate good fruit cake).

  34. Tom says:

    Hi Terry,

    Here is the recipe Katie’s White Fruitcake:

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cups sugar
    ½ cup drinking sherry (reduced to 2 teaspoons)
    2 Tablespoons water
    16 egg whites (not one smidgen of yolk allowed!)
    ¾ pound butter (3 very soft sticks)
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    5 ounces moist coconut
    ½ pound blanched and slivered almonds
    Zest of 1 lemon
    2 pounds candied fruit (for example: 1 pound cherries, 8 ounces pineapple, 4 ounces each orange and lemon rind – absolutely NO citron!)
    (all ingredients must be room temperature)

    • Preheat oven to 250 degrees
    • Reduce Sherry in small pan over medium heat to 2 teaspoons – set aside to cool
    • Line 4 metal bread pans with aluminum foil and butter
    • Cream butter and sugar in very large bowl
    • Mix water and reduced sherry into mixture
    • Mix flour and baking powder in separate medium bowl
    • Transfer 2 cups of leavened flour to mixture and blend together
    • Place fruit, nuts and coconut in bowl with remaining 1 cup of flour and mix together
    • Beat stiff 16 egg whites – 16 is a lot so make sure that all eggs are stiff
    • Mix 1/3 egg whites into mixture to lighten
    • Carefully fold remaining egg whites into mixture using a spatula – cutting down into the middle and lifting mixture up to the sides as you continually turn the bowl – batter should be light and airy
    • Fold in flour-coated fruit and nuts in same fashion
    • Divide batter into four lined and buttered bread pans
    • Place on center rack and bake at 250 degrees for 2½ – 3 hours
    • Do NOT overcook – remove from oven when toothpick comes out cleanly and place on cooling rack

    Fruitcake can be eaten soon after, but will be difficult to cut – even with sharp serrated knife. Fruitcake is much better once aged for 1 month in refrigerator – double wrapped in plastic and stored in tins (Ziploc bags will work in a pinch).

  35. Quinn says:

    Hey Terry. I make my great great aunny’s fruitcake recipe using the standard 9.5″ diameter bundt pan for that old world feel. I would then age them in a tin of sufficent size. My problem is not being able to find a holiday tin of sufficient diameter. Where do you purvhase yoyr tins for aging a fruit cake?

  36. Joe Kubicek says:

    I, too, find mine at the Dollar Store, but be forewarned, they’re a seasonal product. If you want to bake your cakes in September (like I do), buy the tins now!

  37. Quinn says:

    Even Dollar Stores around me either did not have one of sufficient size or did not maintain a seal for very long. I have resigned myself to order a couple off of Amazon, even though The Container Store had plain silver tins. Thank you for the advice though. It is still appreciated. Merry Christmas

  38. Edith Whynot says:

    Today I made my mothers recipe for fruitcake.It doesn’t use alcohol and she used to age hers but I’m not sure how. Can I just wrap it tightly and leave it for a period of time which is what I suspect she used to do?It has more fruit than batter .Is it possible to spray it with fruit juice while it ages?

    • Terry Adido says:

      Without alcohol, it cannot be aged for long. Maybe just for a week for it to soften a bit and for the flavors to develop. Some people use orange juice to age fruitcakes but I have never tried it before.

    • Anna says:

      fNo. Fruit juice might well result in mold. Fruitcake recipes almost never include alcohol, which would bake off anyway. It is added afterwards for extra flavour..The alcohol evaporates and leaves the sugar residue which gives it flavor.. And it can help keep the fruits soft if you must store it. I made a pile one year using TVP (texturized veggie ) pulverized in a blender as my flour.. Worked fine. Possibly a touch of honey or molasses for a deep flavour and additional stickness. There are no eggs.. and I don’t remember using any butter.

  39. Katie Saxton says:

    Hi thank you for all the great advice!
    Couple of questions please,
    How soon after baking do you wrap the cake up please?
    Also, I don’t know if this is a silly question or not 😬 If the cake is fed with alcohol does this mean children can’t eat the cake?? Does it stay as alcohol?? X

  40. Joy says:

    Hi Terry, thank you for this wonderful post. I appreciate it. I have some questions please: 1. Does foil paper have the capacity to affect the taste of any type of Cake, or just fruit cakes? 2.Why cover a fruit Cake with Marzipan first before fondant, why not just fondant please? 3. Regarding brushing with apricot jam before covering with fondant, in the absence of apricot, would it be okay to use any other jam please? 4.When the cake completes its aging process, then what next? 5. Please how do you handle requests for your fruit cakes if you get those before December which is when your fruitcakes are usually ready? God bless you for all you do, Terry.

  41. Joyce says:

    Dear,
    1.is it only fruit cake that can be aged.
    2. If i bake, cool and feed with alcohol ,how long does it stay before spoilage after the first feed

  42. As to question 2, I bake in August or September, “feed” occasionally ’til December, and the cake lasts me ’til the following December when I start to enjoy the next fruitcake.

  43. Joyce says:

    Based on question 2. I need more clarity. If i bake today and spray alcohol today, will it stay okay for up to 1 – 2 weeks

  44. Linda says:

    Thank you for the helpful information.I heard that fruits “sink ” and have to be coaed with flour? What’s your take ?

  45. Chinomso says:

    You are good, keep it up

  46. Dee says:

    Terry you are simply amazing. God bless you. I learned so much from the questions and your answers that I don’t even have any to ask. lol.

  47. yvonne says:

    Hi Terry, thank u so much for all your post, it has really been of help to me. May God bless u. Please can you give me a recipe for bread cake I.e bread dat taste more like a cake. Thank u

  48. Linda Pritz says:

    What is the name of and where do you buy the waxy cardboard collars for the cakes. I assume those fit in the pans tbe cakes are baked in?

    Thank you ahead of time for uour reply! 🙂

  49. Ajiboye Rosemary says:

    ohhh God bless your heart!

  50. Jules says:

    Hi Terry, I’m baking my wedding cake 3 months out (1 tier is fruitcake). I’ve read on your blog to not age the cake in the fridge – rather keep it in a cool, dark place well wrapped…unfortunately I live in Outback Australia and it’s currently summer here (so 40-45 degrees Celsius daily)…not ideal temperatures for keeping a cake cool.. lol. In your opinion would the fridge suffice as long as I’m feeding the cake weekly with alcohol? Or still better to leave out even though it’s quite warm? Thanks in advance!

  51. Amelia says:

    Hey Terry,
    I’m trying to age my fruit cake for the first time so your information really helps a lot. Hope that my fruit cake age properly. Thanks for sharing.

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