Monday, November 15, 2010

Fruitcake: I swear you will like it

You know, the joke about the same fruitcake being continually regifted contains an element of truth: Fruitcake lasts nearly forever. I do not understand, however, why when you're talking about single malt scotch longevity is considered a virtue; with fruitcake, it only contributes to the endless and cruel jokes. The truth is that fruitcake also improves with age.

Just look at last year's fruitcake that has been hiding in our second refrigerator. The deep rich fragrance alone is worth digging it out. And it worked well to buy me a reprieve from what Husband had planned for me this weekend:

Staining cedar shingles for our house exterior.

It was not fun.

I agreed with Husband that it was easier to stain shingles before going up rather than after, but still. The stain smelled horrible and after a few hours, my ass hurt from sitting on the little stool I was allowed. I received only occasional breaks to help Husband run electrical cables through walls and up and down from the attic to the basement. (I love rewiring. I get to point and say "Give me an outlet here, here, and here. With a switch there.")

But feeding Husband a little aged fruitcake gave me the best break of all. With the thought that we could run out of fruitcake in his head, he was happy to have me retreat into my kitchen for a little holiday baking. Yes, that holiday. Fruitcake needs a little time to soak in its juices, so it's time to do this now.

What makes this a great fruitcake recipe is that it contains none of what people hate about fruitcake, namely that weird candied fruit that no one can identify. This recipe (clipped years ago from Sunset Magazine) includes only dried fruit: apricots, pineapple, cherries, and cranberries.

The chopping is a little laborious (my food processor doesn't do a good job on gummy apricots) but beats the hell out of staining shingles.

The batter is little else than sugar, butter, eggs, molasses, flour, and a panoply of spices.

It barely holds together the mountain of fruit and nuts folded in before baking.

These slowly baking loaves will scent your house better than any candle, without risking the anyone becoming upset that there really isn't anything being made to eat.

The last step to this fruitcake before it is put to rest for a few weeks before holiday eating or gifting is a soak in a mixture of orange liqueur and apricot preserves. When taken out to slice and eat, it is a gooey delicious mess—quite different from that fruitcake that has been circling the globe the past century.


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses

1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 pound (2 cups) pecan halves, chopped
1 pound dried apricots, chopped
1/2 pound dried lightly sweetened pineapple, chopped
1/2 pound dried cranberries
1/2 pound dried cherries

1 cup apricot preserves
1 cup orange liqueur

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spray loaf pans with canola spray. This recipe makes about six small loaves.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Beat in molasses.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and spices. Add to egg mixture and beat until just blended. Fold in pecans and dried fruit.

Spoon mixture into loaf pans, pressing down to eliminate air bubbles. Smooth each top level with a knife.

Bake for about 1 1/2 hours. Cool for 2 hours.

Combine preserves and liqueur in small pan and heat until preserves has melted and mixture is reduced slightly. Allow to cool a little. Place loaves in an air proof container and spoon mixture over to cover loaf and leave a slight puddle beneath. Seal and refrigerate for several weeks—the longer, the better.
Seriously, you will like it. Served with a little vanilla ice cream, you may love it.

About a million years ago when we were debating wedding cake selection, Husband ventured: "Maybe fruitcake?" We compromised with a small cake and many pies (the man just does not like regular cake), and I like to think that compromise set the stage for a great partnership: I love to make what he loves to eat. And I get all the outlets and switches I want.


ANFQ said...

Are you dying over that snow storm at Squaw? Because I am dying FOR YOU! Why did I book Colorado over further west? WHY WHY WHY?????? 6 feet of snow?

Trish said...

I pink-puffy-heart LOVE fruitcake! I even like the kind with the candied fruit -- you just have to find GOOD candied fruit with cherries and pineapples and citron (not the fake, icky green cherries either). I'll have to add this recipe to my Fantasy Fruitcake File.

Kat said...

This really looks like an interesting recipe that would bring a "good" fruitcake as opposed to those "traditional" fruitcakes.

Thanks for sharing - I am going to have to try this one.

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