Although it is STILL in the 90s in the Houston area, it IS time to start planning for fruitcake. Why, do you ask? Because they are a tad expensive, especially when you make a lot of them and give them as gifts. If you stock up on the basics early, when the fruit is finally available, you can purchase it without needing to take out a small loan!
True, the majority of people don’t like fruitcake. I maintain that they simply haven’t had good fruitcake. And mine is wonderful! More than twenty years ago, I was inspired by my dh and a dear family friend to begin making my own fruitcake. Growing up, when the calendar flipped from November to December, our family began the expectant wait for Barbara’s holiday gift. My parents still do! After having had some of hers, Tim encouraged me to try my hand at it. I’m a pretty decent cook, so how hard could it be, right? Thus began my hunt for the “just right recipe”. I still have a vivid picture of my first fruitcake. It was dark, lumpy, and tasted terrible. I’m sure we were still newlyweds, because Tim thought it was fabulous – at least that’s what he told me. ;-) I kept trying and eventually found this recipe. I’ve tweaked it a bit. It is a favorite among my family and friends who are fruitcake fanatics.
A couple of years ago, my daughters joined in the fun of what’s become known in our home, as Fruitcake Day. It’s a day-long project and labor intensive, so it provided a great opportunity for us to enjoy quality time together and for them to learn some new baking techniques. I was going to post this on Facebook, but then I thought, What the heck, I have a blog! This makes for something a little different. Who knows! I might even add another dish or two down the road. :D
This recipe is modified slightly from Southern Living’s 1994, Our Best Christmas Recipes.
1½ lb. yellow, green, and red candied pineapple, coarsely chopped (3 3/4 cups)
1 lb. red and green candied cherries, halved (2 1/2 cups)
¼ lb. diced citron (1/2 cup)
3 cups pecan halves
1½ cups golden raisins
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon extract
7 large eggs, separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
Good Cream Sherry
(Note: The original recipe calls for brandy. But I’ve found that sherry deepens the flavor and adds a unique sweetness to this cake.)
- If using a tube pan, draw a 10-inch circle on a piece of brown paper, using your pan as a guide. (Do not use recycled paper.) Cut out circle. Set tube pan insert in enter of circle, and draw around inside tube; cut out smaller circle. If using loaf pans, draw rectangles on your brown paper, using your pans as a guide. Grease 1 side of paper and set aside. Heavily grease and flour pan(s); set aside.
- Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; sprinkle with 1/2 cup flour, tossing to coat fruit and nuts. Set aside.
- Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Stir in flavorings. Beat egg yolks; add yolks to butter mixture alternately with 3 cups flour, beginning and ending with flour. (Batter will be very thick.) Stir fruit mixture into batter. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Cover pan(s) with paper, greased side down. (This will prevent cake from overbrowning during extended baking time.) Bake at 250 F. for 4 hours or until a wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. (Note: for loaf pans, I bake them between 300-325 F. And they take about 3 hours.)
- Remove cake from oven; remove and discard paper. Slowly pour some cream sherry evenly over warm cake; let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. (Note: ”Some” = however much makes you happy! I usually use about 1/8 cup or a little more per loaf pan.)
- Remove cake from pan; place cooled cake on a large sheet of good quality plastic wrap. Pour a little more sherry on it, wrap up tightly, and store in an airtight container. Repeat once a week for three weeks. Then GIFT or bring to your Holiday parties!
Yield: one 10-inch cake OR 2 large loaves.