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Fruit cake

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I know a lot of people hate this traditional Christmas fare but my whole family loves it! Over the years, we've usually just bought fruitcakes but it seems the quality keeps degenerating and we're sick of paying out money to be disappointed. I have decided to embark on the adventure of making my own!

Do any of you have a really good recipe?

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post #2 of 20
Are you looking for the typical sweet, heavy holiday fruit cakes, or perhaps a lighter Italian-style panforte?

Shel
post #3 of 20
My suggestion is to leave out the citron, and go for the dried fruits soaked in rum over the glace fruits. I think that's what gave it it's bad reputation...

I bet good Old Martha Stewart would have a recipe... that *****. I love her but hate her guts.

Never tried it, but this one is packed with fruits ( I may use it this year):

Martha Stewart -
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post #4 of 20

Christmas cake

I would ask you the same question. I also dislike the kind of fruit cake that is generally made in Canada and US, it is wet and heavy, not really cake just a sort of sticky substance that holds all the fruit and nuts together, I can't help you there. But I do have a nice fruit cake recipe that is pleasant to eat... qahtan
post #5 of 20
allie, I share the love for a really good homemade fruitcake.

Good that you're looking into it now, as a good one requires a little aging to make it yummy.

To me what sets apart a good one...

don't be shy with the rhum.

DO NOT USE RED OR GREEN GLACE CHERRIES or any of the other glace fruit you buy in the store. Harpua had good advice to avoid the glace fruit and go with dried. Nicer fruits are a key, and a well chosen combination. You can glace your own fruit, or use dried fruits or both. There is a company that sells gourmet glace fruit mail order, expensive. I've never used them but their stuff looks whole and fancy, I hear it is very nice.

Apricots (you can get the standard dried ones you always see, they're good, or the organic, unsulphured ones in packages from the HFS are a little more exotic and dark in flavor). Dried cherries (you can get some half decent ones from Trader Joe's, or I get some sundried montmorencies from a specialty supplier). I like to use a tiny bit of candied citrus peel that I do myself, I prefer to use organic lemons or oranges. Then you can also use whatever dried or candied that fruits go with what you've chosen, currants, whatever. You can get exotic and add a little candied ginger too, the sky is the limit, think of what you would like it to be and create a nice little simple combination.

I love to eat a tiny bit of fruitcake with a nice Port, and some sharp cheese. If I haven't put whole peeled almonds in the fruitcake, I put raw almonds out too when eating it.

On the almonds, I love the right whole almonds in a fruitcake. Now you'll get the sense of the hairs I've split, my preference is to get good raw almonds, soak them and remove the peels by hand (they will squish off easily after soaking if the almonds are truly raw, lately "raw" almonds have begun to be heat pasteurized and they're not as good). I like the almond to not be overcooked in the fruitcake and I find purchased blanched whole almonds generally stale. I order almonds directly from farms in California, truly raw and unpasteurized, and work only with them.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
I knew I should have asked about this before now. I have already bought two very large containers Sun-Ripe Fruit Cake mix which includes cherries (red and green), citron, orange, and lemons. I need to figure out something to use those for now!

Yes, I'm looking for the dense Americanized fruitcake. I've never had a lighter Italian version. You're talking to someone who's never even eaten in an Italian restaurant! I really don't know anything at all about Italian foods except my Americanized meaty spaghetti sauce.

My only shopping options are Kroger, Scotts (division of Kroger), Meijer, and Walmart. No Trader Joes within 45 miles of home and no Whole Foods anywhere even relatively close. I have to make do with what I can find nearby and am not even certain I can find the items you mentioned, stir_it_up. Not to mention, I'm a stay at home mom and on a relatively tight budget!
post #7 of 20
sorry allie, and for some reason I thought I was still in the pro pastry chef forum when I posted my answer, so sorry if I overwhelmed you with detail and sources of ingredients, etc... Aw geez, and I gave away all my fruitcake secrets for no reason :smiles:

If you want, you could use that fruit you bought but soak it in rhum first. Add a decent amount of rhum to your fruitcake, then if you want, you can wrap it in cheesecloth and put it in a container and soak it with a little rhum further after baking. If it's well sealed and completely unopened, the store would probably take it back too.

LOL you could give away that homebaked fruitcake as gifts too. You could also make some Florentines with your glace fruit after cutting it up finer, then drizzle white chocolate. My mom used to make some nice Christmas cookies with that kind of fruit and a little spice, the recipe was from Gourmet magazine if it's still kicking around on the internet somewhere. It was an easy drop cookie, and a nice addition to a plate of Christmas cookies.

IF you want to try a fruitcake more along the lines of what I was talking about but more within accessible means, just buy dried apricots at whatever store, dried currants (I have seen generic in pouches in the baking aisle), whole almonds or blanched almonds (optional), and candy some of your own orange or lemon peel (NONE of these are expensive), follow the rest of Martha's recipe as posted, I would be a little more generous with the rhum. I would splurge a few cents extra on one organic lemon and/or one organic orange to candy the peel, versus conventional.

If anyone wants to share their lighter Italian fruitcake, shel or qahtan, I'd be interested!
post #8 of 20
Good advice! Avoid that candied citron from Kroger at all costs! Candying your own is easy and tastes better.. or I just zest an orange into the batter.
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post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your responses! I'll let you know how it goes.
post #10 of 20
Fruit cake has gotten a bad rep over the last 20 or so years. Co-incidentally mnfctrs have also been candying rutabaga and melon rind and fobbing it off as "peel" for the same amount of time....,

Don't have a "recipie" per say, but a few jewels of innovation.

Start with good ingredients. Read your labels, run away screaming from candied crud with colouring, sodium benzoate or sulphur. You'll surprise yourself be seeing rutabaga and melon peel on the more mainstream fruit mix labels.

Flavouring. All fats absorb odours. Use this fact to your advantage. What I like to do is mix my butter with aromatics (fresh citrus zest, spices, vanilla, etc) a few days before and "ripen" (tightly covered) in the fridge. Extra flavour for free.

Booze and fruit: Yes they do go well together, but it's a pain in the you know what soaking dried fruit with booze. I "massage" my dried fruit with booze: Toss the fruit in the mixer, stick on the dough hook, add in the booze and "massage" untill all the booze is absorbed, it also softens up the fruit. This can take less than 10 minutes. You can also sub part or even all of the booze with fresh fruit juice

Sugars: Most commercial golden and brown sugar is just plain ol white sugar with mollasses added. You can sub mollases for part of some of the sugar. Stay away from blackstrap mollases (bitter, astringent...) and use "Fancy" grade though.

Fruit "pastes".... Many health food recipies "used to" substitute fats with fruit pastes. This is nothing more than raisins or other dried fruit run through the meat grinder or food processor. You can sub part of your butter with fruit paste. Adds another layer of flavour.

Hope this helps....
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post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Yes foodpump, your information is very helpful!

Thankfully, in looking at the label on the fruit I bought, it doesn't mention rutabaga or melon rind. I do love rutabafa and watermelon rind preserves but not sure I'd want them in a fruitcake. lol

You all have given me some great information to start out with. I need to purchase some more ingredients (including finding some cheesecloth!) and then I'll be on my way to creating a new Christmas tradition in my home.
post #12 of 20
I have a recipe, but it takes some time to transcribe, and probably any recipe is good if you do it this way,.
i agree, candied peel is sharp and bitter, and i don't like it (but some do) and colored cherries and all contain chemicals and their color is not appealing, they look fake and taste fake.
My suggestion is to use a recipe for dark fruitcake

Anyway, substitute dried dates (lots), raisins, currants, dried cranberries if you can find them, candied pineapple (wonderful, at least what i can find here, it's not sticky and not colored) and mango can also be good. Use same weight or volume. That is, add up the quantities of the fruits they suggest, then take the total and make up the same volume or weight with a mixture of these other fruits.
Then soak in brandy or gran marnier or something similar over night.
THEN RUN HALF OF THIS THROUGH THE BLENDER or food processor
this gives you a wonderful moist consistency in the final product.
Mix up the recipe just the way described,a dding the pureed fruit along with the dried.

I've taken to make this into english style christmas cake, using a home nmade rolled fondant frosting on top. (You can always peel it off if you don't like it, but it looks very nice) and then i make a spray of baby's breath and fresh laurel (bay) or myrtle or holly leaves, wrapped in foil at the stem, and inserted into the cake on top. It looks really beautiful, the white and the dark green, just a few leaves or small branches.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #13 of 20
Shel, when I first tasted this in Siena, Italy it was very, very dense and chewy. Is there another variety?

I do have a recipe for panforte, but I think I Googled it- so it's out there. I LOVE fruitcake but can't really eat it now (too many simple carbs). I was recently given a delicious fruit cake cookie recipe that has all the flavors. :lips:
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post #14 of 20
Here's a recipe for a traditional British Christmas cake. I usually make this during the first weekend of November - and then make Christmas puds and Black bun on Stir-up Sunday. :lips:

The measurements used are Imperial measurement.

¾lb raisins
1lb currants
¾lb sultanas
4oz almonds
6oz mixed peel
4oz glace cherries
grated rind of half a lemon and the juice of 1 lemon
¾lb unsalted butter
¾lb moist brown sugar
6 eggs
¾lb plain flour
½ level tsp cinnamon
½ level tsp nutmeg
1 level tsp mixed spice
1 level tbs black treacle
At least 4 good tablespoons of brandy, rum or sherry plus extra to 'feed' cake when baked.


Grease a 9-10 inch tin. Cream butter, sugar and grated lemon rind until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix dry ingredients together well. Add to creamed butter etc. Combine thoroughly. Mix in the chosen alcohol and lemon juice (add a little extra if the mixture seems too stiff) to form a dropping consistency. Turn into lined tin, ensure there are no pockets of air and the surface of the mixture is flat. Tie a double band of brown paper around the tin - approximately 3 inches above the rim of the tin. Place in oven one rung below the middle at 160 degrees centigrade/325F/gas mark 2. Bake for 2 hours and then reduce heat to 150C/300F/Gas mark 1 for a further 1½-2 hours. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. Remove paper and turn cake upside down and make holes with a steel knitting needle or cocktail stick. Pour in extra spirit and leave cake upside down until the spirit has been absorbed. Wrap the cake in
fresh greaseproof paper and leave for at least 48 hours before icing.

Before icing, the cake can be stored for up to 2 months wrapped in foil. Keep "feeding" the cake with alcohol until you are ready to put the marzipan layer and then royal icing onto it.
post #15 of 20
I remember being so excited about panforte when I was in Siena. I took it home and ate it and it was nasty! It was dense and the citron flavor was way to strong..

However, this was years ago and I think my palette (sp?) has changed considerably. I'd like to try it again! I don't think many Americans would like it.
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post #16 of 20
when i was a kid (many years ago) we, as an italian american family, would have panforte at the holidays, bought in the north end in boston. It was hard as a brick and you could seriously break a tooth on it. (It was probably imported from the expired ones from the previous christmas in italy!) Then i came to italy and actually tasted it in siena. Apart from the many varieties which were all different and all good, it was actually soft!
But it is a very dense, all-fruit fruitcake - indeed there is no cake to it at all.
Instead in rome there is "panforte" which is similar, less delicate, i think, and is all this dried fruit wrapped in a sort of thin simple dough, in the form of a ball.
Then in bologna they have certosino, made by the certosino monks (carthusian???) and it;s more like a cake with dry and candied fruits in it.
But i really do prefer the anglo/american fruitcake i make and i have to say, everyone else likes it too. Maybe people think it's gross because they use store-bought ones, or fill them with candied peel.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
My first fruitcake experience was with Claxton Fruitcakes from Claxton, GA. My dad's employer gave them as Christmas gifts when I was a child and I was the only family member who would eat them. I actually grew up about 45 minutes from Claxton, proclaimed "fruitcake capital of the world". LOL Now I really don't care for their products......too dry and crumbly. That's what I'm really hoping to get around. I want a more moist, heavy consistency.
post #18 of 20
My cake isn't dry - it's moist and more-ish.... But maybe it's not to American tastes.:lips:
post #19 of 20
I think I will use this recipe this year. How do you think it would turn out if I omitted the peel and cherries, and added dates, apricots, and cranberries? I would also substitute some of the flour for pecan meal. Oh, and walnuts instead of almonds.

I'll let you know how it turns out... a couple months from now. :roll:
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post #20 of 20
[QUOTE=Harpua;195518]I. How do you think it would turn out if I omitted the peel and cherries, and added dates, apricots, and cranberries? I would also substitute some of the flour for pecan meal. Oh, and walnuts instead of almonds.

I do this all the time,,,, I don't like almonds in a cake, but I do like ground almond in it, so when I have all my fruit together in a bowl I then add my ground almond, yes I prefer chopped walnuts. If am going to soak my fruit in rum ot brandy I find the ground almond absorbs all the extra, :-)))
The dates will give you a much more moist cake, diced prunes as well if you like.
The cake is only as good as what you make it of, butter, never any thing else, cream it well with your sugar, and try and add your eggs with out them curdling, have them at room temperature,.
I am sorry if I appear to be telling you what to do, that is not my intention.

qahtan
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