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Quality Fruitcake

 
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The last few years, we've forgone fruitcake mostly due to not having many good places locally offering anything of quality. Nearly a decade ago, I lived in Maryland and had a Harry and David's near us. My wife at the time didn't understand why I would ever want a fruitcake, but when I noticed they had a decent version there, I coaxed her into agreeing to try it. It was quite funny to watch the skepticism melt off of her face, replaced by shocked pleasure as she tried a small bite of the dense cake. I won't claim it is on par with a homemade one, but it was pretty close to what you could expect from a monestary cake. Rich, sweet and complex.



It began our tradition of getting one each year for the entire time we lived there. Then, when we weren't living there any more, we stopped. I could make one of course, but first we lived where the kitchen wasn't really ours, then once on our own, in a tiny kitchen that made home-cooking far less enjoyable than it should have been. We fell out of the tradition. Until today. Last week I decided to order one and have it shipped to us. They arrived today and for the first time in a long while we were able to enjoy the complex fruity cakes once more. I didn't realize how much I missed it.



Fruitcake gets a bad reputation. I blame a lot of this on the sub-par mass produced garbage logs sold in most stores at the holidays. Bitter messes that taste of sugarless orange peel and industrial vapor. The jokes about fruitcake are endless. How the same fruitcake is getting regifted every year. How they make great door-stops. You know them all I am sure. If you've only had the box-store fruitcakes, you probably feel more excited to eat the sole of a shoe than one of them. Still if you can do so, I suggest getting a small artisan fruitcake to try. A good dense one, rich and well aged. If you're truly lucky, you might even manage to find a local bakery making them with something besides the nuclear neon versions of candied fruits, favoring instead the more traditional dried and candied varieties.

Just my random thoughts as I nibble happily on my own slice.
 
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I will take a long detour for good fruitcake.

I was fortunate to grow up with the home-made version. On the sweet side, yes, but not sickly sweet. Both dark and light cake bases. Glorious.

My question for the lovely fruitcake people out there: should it be patiently infused with dark rum, or should it be patiently infused with bourbon whiskey? What say you?
 
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:
My question for the lovely fruitcake people out there: should it be patiently infused with dark rum, or should it be patiently infused with bourbon whiskey? What say you?


Dark rum or good brandy.

I haven't had decent fruitcake in years. I learned not to buy it
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:
Dark rum or good brandy.

I haven't had decent fruitcake in years. I learned not to buy it



John and I 2nd & 3rd this!
 
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Seems like American culture so denigrates fruitcake that many people just assume they won't like it, particularly gen X and younger.  

I did not grow up with fruitcake, but now I make one most years. When I worked in an office with younger coworkers, the fruitcake was practically untouched at holiday party. Now i make it for an older, more international group and it's all eaten up.

To be fair, there are some really dense, doughy, corn-syrupy objects masquerading as fruitcake. I like a recipe from Joy of Cooking that has a whipped egg white sponge as the base, not so heavy.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Alright y'all, recipes, recipes, we need good recipes!!
 
D. Logan
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Alton Brown did a decently simple version. Two weeks to age and it's ready, so not a long wait from start to finish.

Alton Brown's Fruitcake Recipe
 
pollinator
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I love fruitcake though I am more used to the British style than the American, however my favourite cake of all time comes from America and they deliver internationally, unfortunately it costs 1/4 of our monthly food budget (with delivery) so it's a very rare treat. I have made it and I can make something almost as good but the price is pretty much the same as the ingredients are simply so expensive.

here is the offending article. SO GOOD!
 
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As I mentioned in the Christmas cookies thread, we have something called Früchtebrot in Germany which translates to fruit bread - which makes sense as it is baked with rye flour and sourdough.
It contains all kinds of dried fruit and nuts; depending on the region those can be predominantly dried pears or plums etc.

The last time I made one was two years ago. Children and husban are not partial about it, but from time to time I like it.


(not my pictures)

You should let it sit for two days at least and then it will keep quite some time. It is not soaked with spirits after baking.
 
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I get a fruitcake every Christmas. It looks just like the picture Skandi posted, it comes from a Texas business that is famous for their fruit cakes called Collin Street Bakery since 1899? I think?

I have a place that I also think has great fruit cakes called Claxton Bros. and since they are sold at Sam's Club I bought three of them.

I make my fruit cakes last a long time by having just a very small treat every once in a while.  I think the Christmas one lasted until August.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Anne Miller wrote:I get a fruitcake every Christmas. It looks just like the picture Skandi posted, it comes from a Texas business that is famous for their fruit cakes called Collin Street Bakery since 1899? I think?

I have a place that I also think has great fruit cakes called Claxton Bros. and since they are sold at Sam's Club I bought three of them.

I make my fruit cakes last a long time by having just a very small treat every once in a while.  I think the Christmas one lasted until August.



No surprise it looks like my photo link then, as that is the company! They are so good.
 
Carla Burke
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I'd love a good, flavorful, wheat-free recipe! I miss fruitcake, in a big way! John and I used to get the little ones, every year, because we were the only ones who ate them, and we knew if we got our made a 'real' one, we'd eat the whole thing, and be sick for a week. Now, I know why they made me sick - but, I still WANNIT!
 
D. Logan
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Carla Burke wrote:I'd love a good, flavorful, wheat-free recipe! I miss fruitcake, in a big way! John and I used to get the little ones, every year, because we were the only ones who ate them, and we knew if we got our made a 'real' one, we'd eat the whole thing, and be sick for a week. Now, I know why they made me sick - but, I still WANNIT!



Would this one work for you? Gluten-free Fruitcake
 
Carla Burke
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D. Logan wrote:

Carla Burke wrote:I'd love a good, flavorful, wheat-free recipe! I miss fruitcake, in a big way! John and I used to get the little ones, every year, because we were the only ones who ate them, and we knew if we got our made a 'real' one, we'd eat the whole thing, and be sick for a week. Now, I know why they made me sick - but, I still WANNIT!



Would this one work for you? Gluten-free Fruitcake



Thank you!! I might even get to try making it, this year!!
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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So, the wheels started turning, and it dawned on me that the Stuart McLean "Christmas fruitcake" story was a mandatory addition to this thread.

Trouble is, I can't find the actual recording of Stuart live, performing the piece. It's still copyrighted. And really, the performance is at least half of it.

But for those of you who can hear Stuart's rhythm and cadence in your head, here's a text version. Hope you like it.

https://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/canadian-living-books/article/cozy-up-to-this-short-story-from-the-classic-christmas-at-the-vinyl-cafe
 
D. Logan
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Carla Burke wrote:

D. Logan wrote:

Carla Burke wrote:I'd love a good, flavorful, wheat-free recipe! I miss fruitcake, in a big way! John and I used to get the little ones, every year, because we were the only ones who ate them, and we knew if we got our made a 'real' one, we'd eat the whole thing, and be sick for a week. Now, I know why they made me sick - but, I still WANNIT!



Would this one work for you? Gluten-free Fruitcake



Thank you!! I might even get to try making it, this year!!



Let everyone know how it turns out!
 
Carla Burke
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D. Logan wrote:

Carla Burke wrote:

D. Logan wrote:

Carla Burke wrote:I'd love a good, flavorful, wheat-free recipe! I miss fruitcake, in a big way! John and I used to get the little ones, every year, because we were the only ones who ate them, and we knew if we got our made a 'real' one, we'd eat the whole thing, and be sick for a week. Now, I know why they made me sick - but, I still WANNIT!



Would this one work for you? Gluten-free Fruitcake



Thank you!! I might even get to try making it, this year!!



Let everyone know how it turns out!


I have everything ready, except for the candied ginger, which I'll make, tomorrow. I'm really excited to try this!
 
Carla Burke
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D. Logan wrote:Let everyone know how it turns out!



Started soaking the fruit for it yesterday, finished with the baking, today. I altered the recipe enough that it's pretty much my own recipe, now. I candied my own ginger, used unsweetened sour cherries that I'd dehydrated, last summer, omitted the milk, soaked the fruits overnight, in some strong oolong tea & a few ounces of brandy, and used the strained off liquid for that, in place of the milk. My flour was a mixture of almond flour and quinoa flour, and I used granulated swerve, instead of sugar. The recipe makes 2 cakes, so I used a loaf pan for one, abs put the other into one of those fluted pans made for baking tortillas into bowels. I put a handful of pecans in first, to decorate them. Next time, I may also save out some of the boozey-tea soaked cherries, too - but I didn't think about it, until they were already in the batter.

This cake smelled so amazing! We were glad it made two, because we want it for Christmas, with a few days of brandy brushed over it - but we wanted some now, too! In fact, it didn't even get a chance to cool. It's supposed to cool for an hour before unpanning - half an hour in, and I was already cutting the fluted one! It is so flavorful, dense, and moist, we were blown away. I think I'd like it better in the first day, with a vanilla-brandy glaze, whipped cream, ice cream, clotted cream, or even creme fraiche - by it doesn't actually need it. The other one will be wrapped and boozed up, until at least Christmas - I might even hold off 'til New Years, just to see. So, here's the final recipe, with a pic of the fluted one:

Carla's Hindsight Fruitcake
7oz dates, chopped
6oz died apricots, chopped
6oz raisins
2oz died sour cherries
10oz strong oolong tea
4oz brandy
Soak together, overnight

1C butter
1C swerve
2T vanilla
2t lemon extract
6eggs
1.5C almond flour
1/4C quinoa or coconut flour
1t xanthan gum
1t salt
1/2C candied ginger*, chopped
2C pecans, divided

Strain fruit, reserving liquid. Pour reserved liquid into a measuring cup, to 1C. Save the rest, just in case. Cream together butter, swerve, extracts, and salt. Separately, sift dry together. Mix an egg into creamed butter, then a portion of the dry - alternate an egg and dry, until all is incorporated. Let rest 15 min.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Add more milk, if needed. Fold in fruits, nuts, and ginger. Butter 2 - 9x5 loaf pans, line with parchment, butter again. Fill pans, and bake about 90min/to toothpick test.
Cool on racks, for about an hour, remove from pans, wrap in brandy-soaked cheesecloth. Wrap tightly in foil. Every day, brush with more brandy, for a week, then every 3rd day, for 2 months, to store for up to 3months.

• I candied my own ginger, using Swerve, and it worked out beautifully.


Edited to add: cake #1 is already half gone. There are only 2 of us! Cake #2 is safely wrapped in brandy-soaked fine cheesecloth, wrapped, and more brandy is waiting. The brandy I'm using is just what we have on hand - Christian Brother's 'Very Smooth'.
20201220_164404.jpg
Carla's Hindsight Fruitcake
Carla's Hindsight Fruitcake
 
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"Southern Supreme" is my favorite.  I buy next year's loaf and keep it tucked in my freezer, because I can't imagine Christmas without it.  
Thin slices are lovely with tea.  
Thicker slices cut into small squares and speared on a toothpick with mild cheddar cheese and/or a bit of apple or pear make easy canapés.  
Here's their website: Southern Supreme Fruitcake
 
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I keep telling myself I will make my own fruitcake next year. Then I don't. I once had the best ever fruitcake and watched the lightbulb burn bright as to the understanding of why people love it. It had been a mail order gift to an elderly client I had many years ago (I take care of elderly and disabled in their homes for a living). She swore to me it was deee lish ous! So I cautiously nibbled my first taste and then took a real bite! I haven't really had any good fruitcake since then.

In looking through online recipes, including the Alton Brown recipe referenced above. There are light battered and dark battered, and the fruit used seems to change a bit across the board. I see cocoa powder used is some darker cakes, and a reference to the batter being a pound cake batter. Well, I have a family famous pound cake recipe that came from one of Mom's best friends, Betty Schanbacher, who sadly died in a plane crash. (She was terrified to fly, but got hypnosis therapy to overcome it, then her husband was the pilot in the crash!) Could I just put the fruit in that batter I wonder??? Best of both worlds? But many of the dark batters also seem to feature cinnamon and nutmeg! I will eventually figure out the best combination of all my favorite flavors!

Until then, please keep the recipes and hints at making the best fruitcake ever!

And rum over whiskey every day of the week!
 
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We made our first homemade one this year... and have eaten at least half of it already. That stuff is addictive.

In answer to the variables:
Brandy.
Dark.
Cherries, pineapple, sultanas, Thompson raisins, candied peel.
Almonds and pecans.
Wheat free (used a 1:1 baking substitute of rice flour, etc.)

MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm. We're talking about making another one to take on camping and boating trips in the summer, since it's such a good traveller.

And incidentally, I'm genX.
 
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I made my first ever fruit cake this year. I'm not a fan of the candied fruit typically used, so I confess fruit cake has never appealed. I made mine with dried papaya, dried tart cherries, and raisins. It's in the pantry, wrapped in cheesecloth, and I've basted it every week with brandy since the end of October. Christmas is tasting day!
 
Leigh Tate
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Success!
fruitcake.JPG
[Thumbnail for fruitcake.JPG]
 
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I don't do alcohol or like the candied jelly fruits but I've thought to make one with a variety of dried fruit. I've seen recipes using fruit juice but it seems like it wouldn't be "real" without basting and/or alcohol.  Maybe less authentic shouldn't matter to me. Your creations look so tasty!
 
Carla Burke
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Sonja Draven wrote:I don't do alcohol or like the candied jelly fruits but I've thought to make one with a variety of dried fruit. I've seen recipes using fruit juice but it seems like it wouldn't be "real" without basting and/or alcohol.  Maybe less authentic shouldn't matter to me. Your creations look so tasty!



Sonja, it wouldn't preserve it like the booze, but you could use tea, for the moisture, and the tannins in the tea would help. I'd just make sure to keep it in the fridge, if you want to keep it more than a few days, especially using real fruit. The fruit in mine is rehydrated in a mixture of oolong and brandy. I'm betting that if you used a strong Earl Grey, you'd get a comparable level of flavor.
 
Mk Neal
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Sonja Draven wrote:I don't do alcohol or like the candied jelly fruits but I've thought to make one with a variety of dried fruit. I've seen recipes using fruit juice but it seems like it wouldn't be "real" without basting and/or alcohol.  Maybe less authentic shouldn't matter to me. Your creations look so tasty!



A recipe I used for “fruechtebrot” which is like a German proto-fruitcake, calls for simmering the dried fruits, then draining the fruit and using the liquid to baste the loaf.
 
Sonja Draven
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Those are both great ideas, thank you! I'll post my attempt. :)
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