The Gourmet Touch: What’s Christmas without fruitcake?
by Prudence Hilburn
Special to The Star
Dec 05, 2012 | 1765 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Now’s the time to start thinking fruitcake. After all, the best fruitcakes are those that are made ahead and allowed to age.

Recently, a reader contacted me about a fruitcake recipe that was in the paper several years ago. I searched my files and found the following recipe, but I don’t think it is the one she was wanting.

Personally, I have never liked fruitcake, but what would Christmas be without one? It is one of those traditional desserts that we eat even though we don’t like them.

I remember my mother making her fruitcakes several weeks before Christmas, wrapping them in a thin, white cloth (she didn’t have any cheesecloth) and placing slices of fresh apples over the top. They were then packed away in airtight containers. From time to time, mother would change the apple slices. When she opened the container, you could smell “Christmas” in the air.

I also remember my mother soaking the fruitcakes sometimes. Can’t say for sure what she used, because I don’t think I was supposed to ask. Certainly made the fruitcake moist, and everybody seemed to like it that way except me.

I think it’s the bitter-like twang from the candied citron, lemon peel and orange peel that makes fruitcakes so distasteful to me. To remedy this, I decided to make a fruitcake using only those ingredients that I like, such as dates, candied cherries, candied pineapple and lots of nuts. To add a slight orange flavor, I used orange marmalade.

My version would not be considered the “traditional” one, but maybe you will like it.

Fruitcake

2 cups chopped candied cherries (maybe red and green)
2 cups chopped candied pineapple
2 cups chopped dates (not the sugared kind)
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange marmalade
5 eggs
1/2 cup liquid of choice (orange juice or apple juice is good)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube pan. Cut a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Grease the paper. Flour the pan, shaking out any excess flour.

Combine the fruits and nuts in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of flour over them and toss to coat lightly. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups of flour, salt, baking powder and spices. Stir to mix.

In another large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugar and marmalade. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternately with the liquid. Mix well. Stir in the fruit-nut mixture. Mix well.

Place a pan of water on the rack directly underneath the rack on which the cake pan will be placed. Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan. Bake for about 3 1/2 hours or until a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted near the center of the cake. Remove from the pan immediately. Wrap securely with aluminum foil or place in an airtight container. If desired, soak a large piece of cheesecloth in juice or liqueur and wrap around the cake.
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The Gourmet Touch: What’s Christmas without fruitcake? by Prudence Hilburn
Special to The Star

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