Holiday Baking: Fruitcakes Article -
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Baking Fruitcakes

Discover the rich, complex flavors of homemade fruitcakes.

At its best, fruitcake is simply a mixture of fruits, nuts, and just enough rich batter to hold them together.

Time is of the Essence

The key to decadent fruitcakes is allowing enough time for the flavors to blend, or “ripen”--both before and after baking. Some bakers in the Caribbean begin soaking fruit in rum for many months in advance.

  • For most recipes, a full month of ripening is a necessity. You can always store it longer than a recipe requires, but don't shorten the aging time.
  • Ideally, take several days to make your cake or cakes. Chop the nuts and fruits, cover with liquor and/or fruit juice, and let the mixture stand, covered, for two or three days. Then make the batter and bake your cakes.
  • Cool cakes thoroughly after baking. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes in the cake, and sprinkle with brandy or rum if desired. Wrap in liquor-dampened cheesecloth, and store in airtight containers in a cool, dark place. The fridge is fine, but don't transfer cakes to the freezer until the flavors have ripened and mellowed.
  • Check the cakes once a week. Brush the cakes with more liquor, if necessary, and then rewrap them in the damp cloth.

As You Like It

A recipe is only a guide. Feel free to substitute other types of candied or dried fruit and nuts; just be sure that the weight of the fruit and nuts you choose equals that of the original recipe. Dried fruits cooked in juice or wine until they're plump can take the place of candied fruits; home-candied fruits are far more flavorful than the store-bought variety.

A Long Day's Bake

Always bake fruitcakes slowly, at a low temperature--between 275 to 325 degrees F (135 to 165 degrees C). The cakes are dense with fruit that will release liquid during baking.

Prepare your pans by greasing and flouring them or by lining them with greased parchment paper. When the cake batter is ready, spoon it into the prepared pans, and tap the pans on the work surface to pop any air bubbles. Arrange pecan halves, whole almonds, candied cherries, or other fruit decoratively on the cake.

  • Place cake pans on center oven rack; pans should not be touching each other. You may wish to cover fruitcakes with aluminum foil for the last half hour of baking.
  • With such a long baking time and with so many varieties of fruitcake, color alone won't indicate when the cake is done. Test for doneness by poking a skewer or a toothpick near the center of the cake. It should come out clean.

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Nov. 27, 2009 5:06 pm
I am looking for a recipe that was on this site a few years ago I think it was called Christmas Morning Cinnamon buns if anyone has the recipe please post it again thanks
Dec. 6, 2009 1:57 pm
i love all these recipe's. the ingredients just makes it sound yummy, but most of all the pictures looks more delicous. i like the chicken and new potatoes, in fact i am eating it right now, well in my imagination
Oct. 29, 2010 1:09 pm
Can you store a fruit cake made without the liquor as long as one made with it?
Oct. 27, 2011 4:36 am
My maternal grandmother had a wonderful, deliciously moist fruitcake recipe she used to make. Part of what made it so good was not only the brandy she'd soak the cake with (NOT the fruit. She'd soak the cake itself. She'd turn it upside-down and pour the brandy over the bottom, and wrap the cake in foil), but, she also didn't use that horrible candied fruit. I remember she'd cut up dates and red and green maraschino cherries and use them instead. I'd share her recipe on this site, but it is written almost entirely in Finnish except for a word here and there, and my knowledge of the language is very limited. (Gramma was from Finland, and her recipes are in handwriting; some are typewritten. Some are clipped from the newspaper. They are a hodgepodge -- some are in English (no problem there), some partly in English; partly in Finnish. Some all in Finnish, some are just a list of ingredients with no instructions on how to put them together.)
Dec. 8, 2012 12:33 pm
The tips on how to cook and store a fruitcake are the best I have ever seen. thank you, thank you.
Sep. 10, 2014 5:19 pm
Thank-you for the tips.
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