Ah, the much-maligned fruitcake. ‘Tis the season. Johnny Carson insisted that there was really only one fruit cake in existence and it was passed on from person to person. He’s credited with starting the “I hate fruitcake movement”. Urban dictionary sites the term fruitcake as a derogatory term for people who are a little crazy. There is even a humorous Facebook page dedicated to dissing what is essentially fruit, nuts and cake.
What’s not to like? People tend to fall into two camps, the lovers and the haters. Few are ambivalent. Ask the person standing next to you about their feelings on fruitcake. Guaranteed, the response will be enthusiastic in one direction or the other. Personally, I LOVE fruitcake. But only my mom’s. Hers is rich and moist, dark and boozy with rum, and chocked full of candied cherries, pineapple, citrus peel and sweet pecans, with only enough cake to hold it together. Mom’s fruitcake has been scientifically proven to turn the haters into lovers. This cake freezes well and is a real treat on the deck in June, when you realize you have forgotten a cake at the back of the freezer — kind of on purpose. Mom’s recipe has been tweaked and perfected over 30 years, and here it is:
MOM’S DARK CHRISTMAS CAKE
¾ cup dates
1½ cups Candied Cherries
1¼ cups Mixed Peel
1½ cups Candied Pineapple
4 ounces Pecans (chopped), reserve several for top if desired
1¼ cups Currants
2¼ cups Raisins
Candied Citron can be added if desired and extra Raisins such as Sultana, Muscat and Thompson.
Soak for 1 week in 1 cup dark rum
Preheat oven to 275F. Prepare 2-3 (9×4) loaf pans by lining with 2 layers of heavy waxed paper, or greased brown paper. (Non-Stick pans wiped with a little vegetable oil, work very well but cakes bake faster.) Test cakes after 2 hours for doneness.
Beat until soft
1 cup Butter
Add and blend: until very soft and creamy,
2 cups Brown Sugar
6 beaten Eggs
½ cup Molasses
¾ cup Apple Cider
Sift 2½ cups sifted all-purpose Flour and reserve ½ cup Flour.
Combine together in large bowl
2 cups sifted Flour
½ tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. ground Nutmeg
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. each Allspice, Cinnamon, Cloves
Sprinkle Fruit with reserved Flour.
Combine liquid ingredients with dry and add Fruit. Mix well. Turn into prepared pans. Fill pans to 1/2 inch from top. Press a few pecan halves along top for decoration if desired. Bake at 275F for 2 hours, test with toothpick for doneness and bake another half hour. Lift from pans and remove paper. Permit the loaves to cool completely on wire rack, wrap in cheese cloth, well dampened with rum. Wrap in plastic wrap. Finally wrap in foil. For best flavour, let the cakes age for one month in refrigerator or a cool, dark spot. After several days you can unwrap and drizzle cakes with more rum and then rewrap. Cakes freeze well.
Cake preparation, baking and packaging photos by George Gouthro.
Of course, we realized that we would have to take some photos of the finished product, ready to be enjoyed, and naturally, we couldn’t have ready-to-eat morsels of this luscious cake go to waste. Oh, how we suffer for our art!