A Lighter Side to Fruitcake

Fruitcake seems to perpetually have a bad rap. Not entirely sure why. I mention the words "fruit cake" to someone and they are often met with "ehwww....I hate fruit cake. So gross.". Why? What did fruit cake ever do to them?

Many find fruit cake too dense and heavy. True, a number of fruitcakes are made this way. I have discovered that most commercially made fruitcakes contain too much fruit to batter ratio and this is what makes them so heavy. Added to this is a thick layer of overly sweet marzipan (personally, I'm not a fan of the stuff in any season).

I've been making our family fruitcakes for years. I like to make two types. One with the traditional candied cherries and peel and nuts and dark raisins. The other I make with only the light fruit. Golden raisins, dried citrus peel, dried cranberries and slivered almonds. This mixture gives the cakes a more blonde appearance with the red dried cranberries giving just a bit of colour.

I also separate the egg yolks from the egg whites (trivia question - what is the egg white called . . . besides "egg white"). The yolks get blended into the cream mixture while the egg whites are beaten stiff and then folded in at the end. This makes for a lighter, airier cake.

Another problem with fruitcake is that it can be dry. Good fruitcake remains moist. This comes from properly curing the fruitcake. And this takes time. And brandy. And a dark closet. So I usually start the fruitcakes in mid October.

So here is the recipe our family has used as far back as I can remember.

Blonde Fruitcake

Fruit Mixture
2              cup         golden raisins
1              cup         diced candied citron
1              cup         dried cranberries
1              cup         candied pineapple, chopped
1              cup         slivered almonds
1              cup         brandy, orange brandy, asbach or spiced rum

¾             cup         milk
¼             cup         brandy, orange brandy, asbach or spiced rum
1              tsp          almond extract
1 ½          cup         butter, softened
2              cup         granulated sugar
6                            eggs, separated
3 ½          cup         all purpose flour
1              tsp          cream of tartar

Cheesecloth for wrapping cakes
2              cup         brandy, orange brandy, asbach or spiced rum

In a large bowl, combine the raisins, candied citron, cranberries, pineapple and slivered almonds with the 1 cup liquor and toss to coat. Cover and allow to sit for two days. Toss, and allow to sit for another two days. Repeat until all liquid has been absorbed by the fruit mixture (about a week).

Butter 4 standard sized loaf pans (8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½ “). Line bottoms with brown paper. Butter brown paper. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Combine the milk, ¼ cup liquor and almond extract and set aside. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour alternately with the milk mixture, beating well after each addition. Pour over fruit mixture. Mic well and set aside.

In a clean mixer bowl and with clean beaters, whip the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until still peaks form. Fold into batter. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans. Pack evenly by pressing down batter with the back of a wooden spoon.

Bake at 275 degrees F for 1 ¾ hours until skewer inserted into center of each cake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and cool in pans on wire racks for 30 minutes. Run knife around edge of cakes to loosen. Remove cakes from pans. Peel off paper and allow cakes to cool completely.

Wrap each cake with a double layer of cheesecloth. Using extra liquor, brush each cake with enough liquid to dampen cheesecloth. Wrap cakes in aluminum foil and store in a dark closet for 2 to 3 weeks, brushing occasionally with more liquor.

Cured cakes can be frozen for up to a year. 

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