Fruitcake is a tradition most people associate with antiquated Christmas traditions. It’s something our grandparents (or maybe even great-grandparents enjoyed). I’ve certainly seen a lot of those canned fruitcakes that look like some manufacturer pumped them out in July so they could sit on the grocery store shelves until they went to the clearance bin and someone bought them to reuse the tins.
In doing research for traditional fruitcake recipes – on a quest to make my first ever fruitcake – I realized the recipes are as varied as the families who make them as traditional gifts. The types of dried and candied fruits and nuts that go into a recipe varies from three to as many as nine or 10 from what I could see. Some are brushed with booze, while others make it optional. Some use a bundt pan, while others recommend a standard bread pan.
By the time I made my way through recipes that worked well for the pans I already owned (no, I don’t own two 9-inch springform pans), I settled on a recipe that also took much less time to get to the tasting portion of this project. I don’t really trust many things (pickles, aside) that require you to wait weeks to taste them. I’m more of an instant-gratification baker. It’s 2018, and I feel like fruitcake recipes need to catch up!
I landed on this recipe from Simply Recipes, a trusted blog source I’ve turned to many times in the past. The site founder, Elise Bauer, provides easy-to-follow instructions for “Our Favorite Holiday Fruitcake” … and it didn’t require me to buy mace. (For those who don’t know, mace is a spice that’s commonly used in Indian dishes. So obviously it’s needed for fruitcake.) Anyway, mace isn’t in this recipe.
Aside from having the necessary ingredients on hand, aside from the candied cherries and other dried fruits, I knew this recipe would be ready within a few hours. Yes, you can baste it with Brandy or bourbon to make it last longer, just like traditional recipes. But I didn’t want to wait.
So, I chopped up all of my dried fruits, including those sticky-sweet cherries that were the reason I even decided this was a good idea, and tossed them with 1/4 cup flour, per the recipe.
I creamed the butter and sugar. Added the egg. Put together the dry ingredients and folded in the fruit and nuts I had prepared. Then a globbed the dough into a prepared bread pan. I used an 8×4 instead of the original recipe’s 9×5, because I didn’t have one on hand.
I had to bake the cake for a full two hours, which felt like an eternity. I was just anxious to take it from the oven, cool it and see if I’m going to be a fruitcake fanatic. The result: This fruitcake is probably as tasty as you can get from a holiday dessert that divides people as strong lovers or haters. The orange zest is the strongest flavor you get from every single bite. I’m still somewhere in the middle, but I love traditions … so maybe this will become one for me?