What is there to say about fruitcake really? Most people despise it, and for good reason. I will agree that fruitcake, on average, is a dry, dense brick with nothing for flavour but the sickly sweet afternotes of old candied fruit. Sounds appetizing doesn't it? It certainly doesn't look appetizing. Have you ever seen fruitcake in a store? Nothing is as unappealing as that.
I will admit to buying store fruitcake last year. The recipe was a new one and I will never use it again, by the way. Fruitcake Rumballs promised to be delicious and I believed the catchy descriptions. I crumbled the storebought cake into the food processor with cocoa and rum and tried to make a dough that I could roll. Bottom line, the balls were lumpy and wet and the only one who ate them was my mom, I think out of obligation. For future, I will stick to my tried and true rumballs and leave the store's fruitcake to the Boxing Day bargain shoppers.
So after my fruitcake issues, you might wonder why I am posting a fruitcake recipe. I hate fruitcake like the next person but this recipe from my Canadian Living Christmas cookbook is a wonderful cake. The book claims it will win over all fruitcake haters and they were right. Except for the few in my family who refuse to eat glazed fruit no matter what, I managed to pawn off many slices and people came back for seconds.
The trick to this recipe is the dough that binds it together. There is more of it than most fruitcakes I have made and it is not cloyingly sweet, nor is it molasses bitter and dark. The orange and almond flavor is prevelant and the cake is delicious. I use more raisins and nuts than fruit to make sure my family will eat it. I would highly recommend you give this one a try in the coming weeks. Just make sure you leave a good 3 weeks for it to mellow before serving.
A couple notes since I made it on the weekend...
I used the full amount of nuts and raisins and only 6 cups total of fruit - mixed candied and mixed peel. If you are using whole fruits like the recipe calls for, then use the full amounts. If you are using the tiny diced mixed fruits you can use alot less and should or else there will not be enough batter to go around.
Use metal loaf pans if possible. The glass ones that I used took a lot longer to cook, 3.5hrs, and I found that the cake does not cook as evenly.
Let the cakes cool for as long as possible before removing them from the pans. They should be completely cool, otherwise the cake starts to have small cracks.
Once the cakes are on a board and out of the pans, brush all the surfaces with rum or orange juice or a combination of both.
I stored mine wrapped in plastic wrap and two layers of tinfoil. After a few weeks, brush them with your choice of liquid again.
Give this recipe a shot, it might surprise you.
Light Orange Almond Fruitcake
Canadian Living Christmas Cookbook
3 cups mixed candied fruits
2 cups golden raisins
3/4 cups candied green cherries cut in half
3/4 cups candied red cherries cut in half
1 1/2 cup chopped candied pineapples
1 1/2 cup coarsly chopped blanched almonds
1 cup candied lemon & lime peels
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp coarsly grated orange rind
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange liqueur or orange juice
Grease and flour two 9x5 in. loaf pans; Set aside.
In large bowl, combine the fist seven ingredients; toss with 1/2 cup of the flour. Set aside.
Mix remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, orange rind and almond or vanilla extract, beating well.
Add flour mixture alternately with orange liqueur or juice. (Three additions of dry, two addition of wet) Mixing just until flour is incorporated. Fold in fruit mixture. The batter will be very thick.
Pour into prepared pans, smoothing tops. Place a shallow pan half filled with boiling water on bottom rack of oven. Bake cakes on center rack in a 250 (yes, 250) degree oven for 2 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserter into center comes out clean. (This make take as long as 3 hours.) Cover loosely with foil if cakes start to crack. Let cool completely in pans.
If you wish, wrap in two thicknesses of cheese cloth soaked in brandy and in some aluminun foil until ready to eat.