I’ve never eaten fruit cake. But who can blame me? This Christmas tradition is notoriously awful. All you ever hear is how they are dry and stale and awful. And in my mind, somehow they are also gelatinous, although I don’t know if that’s really true. Fruit cake is something you give as a gag at a White Elephant party.
But some people still swear by it and make it year after year. I admire their dedication.
These fruit cake recipes come from The Washington Post. I haven’t tried them. I don’t know that I will. For me, avoiding fruit cake may be as big of a Christmas tradition as enjoying it is for others.
But if you like them — or better yet, if you have your own favorite fruit cake recipe, let me know! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Luxury Fruit Cake
Adapted from “Baking Style,” by Lisa Yockelson (Wiley, 2011).
For the cake
3 cups mixed dried fruits (such as apricots, figs, pitted dates, apples, peaches, nectarines, plums and such), finely chopped
1 cup golden seedless raisins
1 cup dark seedless raisins
2/3 cup dark rum
2 1/2 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsifted bleached cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup best-quality ginger preserves
1 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups walnut halves or pieces
For the glaze and fruit finish (optional)
1 1/3 cups best-quality apricot jam
1 tablespoon water
Thinly sliced dried or glazed fruit
For the cake: Combine the dried fruits and the raisins in a very large nonreactive mixing bowl. Add the rum, toss well to coat, and cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let the mixture stand at cool room temperature for 4 hours (or up to 8 hours).
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Spray the inside of a plain, one-piece 9 3/4-inch tube pan (6 inches deep, with a capacity of 18 cups) with nonstick flour-and-oil spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper cut to fit and film its surface with the spray. (It is essential to line the bottom of the pan.)
For the batter, sift the flours together with the baking powder, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice onto a sheet of wax paper.
Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until lightened. Reduce the speed to medium and add the dark brown sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract and ginger preserves. Reduce the speed to low and add the sifted mixture in 3 additions. Use a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl thoroughly after each addition. Scrape the batter over the marinated fruit mixture, add the crystallized ginger and walnuts, and stir to thoroughly mix the fruits and nuts with the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan. Use a flexible spatula to smooth the top.
Bake for 2 1/2 hours or until a wooden pick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Begin checking the cake at 2 hours and 15 minutes. The baked cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the pan and the surface will be level.
Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto another cooling rack. Lift off the pan, remove the circle of parchment paper if it clings to the cake, and invert the cake to stand right side up. Cool completely. Store in an airtight cake keeper. An hour or two before serving is the ideal time to glaze the top of the cake and apply dried or glazed fruits to it, if you wish.
To make the optional glaze, combine the jam and water in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is barely bubbling. Cook for 2 minutes, adjusting the heat so it doesn’t come to a full boil, then remove it from the heat.
Turn the jam mixture into a stainless-steel strainer set over a heatproof nonreactive bowl, and use a flexible spatula to push it through. Discard the solids in the strainer.
To use the glaze immediately, heat it in a clean, dry saucepan over medium heat until the glaze is barely bubbling. Cook for 30 seconds. Or cool the glaze completely and refrigerate it in an airtight container.
Use a soft pastry brush to apply the warm glaze to the top of the cake. Wait a minute, then carefully arrange dried or glazed fruit on the surface in a pretty pattern.
NUTRITION Per serving: 540 calories, 6 g protein, 72 g carbohydrates, 26 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 110 mg cholesterol, 190 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 47 g sugar
Guinness Fruit Cake
Adapted from “Home Made Winter,” by Yvette van Boven (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012).
3 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, in small chunks
2/3 cup dried currants
2/3 cup golden raisins
2/3 cup good-quality candied citrus peel
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Guinness or another stout, plus more for serving (optional)
4 large eggs
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Unsweetened whipped cream or salted butter (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. (If you have a convection oven, turn off the fan.)
Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease a 9-inch round cake pan with high sides and a removable bottom. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper and grease it with the spray.
Sift the flour with the spices into a big bowl. Use a fork to quickly rub the butter chunks into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse bread crumbs. Add the currants, raisins, candied peel, lemon zest and brown sugar, and mix well.
Beat the Guinness into the eggs and trickle the resulting mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 1 hour. Lower the oven temperature to just under 300 degrees and loosely cover the cake with aluminum foil. Bake for another hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Let the cake cool on a rack. To serve, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top, if desired, or prick some holes in the top of the cake and drizzle a little Guinness over it. Serve with whipped cream or salted butter.
NUTRITION Per serving: 270 calories, 4 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 18 g sugar