David Lebovitz is always and inspiration to bake something including the most ridiculed and reviled (at least here in the US) of all Christmas season staples: the fruitcake. The on-going joke that somewhere there's a fruitcake being endlessly passed on from one person to another from generation to generation since the first fruitcake was baked could be true because people don't want to throw food away and "re-gift" the dreaded fruitcake. I remember getting one such cake many years ago, it came in a Christmas gift basket with all those beer sausages and cheeses. I felt so guilty when I threw the fruitcake away. Every year there is a fruitcake tossing contest because these people either really hate fruitcakes, have nothing better to do, or just love using their catapults. I can understand why they don't like fruitcake. The first US-made fruitcake we had was in my parents-in-law's house in Texas (the cake was probably a gift). We all hated it. It was bone dry, studded with tasteless hard fruits and nuts, with no cake (flour) visible, cloyingly sweet, and no hint of liquor either. My MIL used to make the darkest, moistest, most delicious will-make-you-tipsy fruitcakes in Manila and the US fruitcakes were a big disappointment.
Anyway, I made the traditional fruitcakes which I will inject regularly with brandy for the next 3 weeks and half a recipe of David's Chocolate-Cherry Fruitcake which was a semi-disaster because I did not add the nuts. I had the recipe in front of me but forgot the nuts were still in the toaster oven when I started mixing and spooned the batter into the pans without realizing the nuts were missing. Oh well, the cake is still very good and will bake another batch a week before Christmas. I sprinkled some of the toasted nuts on top of the sliced cake for the crunch and flavor.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ tsp allspice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups snipped whole dates
1 cup dried currants or sultanas
½ cup chopped red candied cherries
½ cup chopped green candied cherries
½ cup candied pineapple
¾ cup candied citron
¼ cup candied lemon peels
¼ cup candied orange peels
¼ cup chopped candied ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds
1 cup soft butter
1½ cups dark brown sugar
¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup brandy plus more for brushing
zest of 1 large orange
- Pre-heat oven to 300°F.
- Grease three 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf pans, line with parchment paper, grease paper, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix fruits and nuts with ¼ cup flour, set aside. Sift the rest of the flour with the spices, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add sugar, butter, eggs, juice, brandy and zest. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes. With a large spatula mix in the fruits and nuts. Spoon into the prepared pans, smooth top. Bake for 2 hours or until cake test done (I use a small wooden skewer). Place on wire racks and let cool in pans thoroughly. Remove from pans and peel off paper. Brush all over with brandy and wrap in plastic film. Keep in a freezer gallon bag in the refrigerator. Moisten loaves with brandy every 4 days for 3 weeks before serving.