Fruitcake gets a really bad rap. I think this is very much due to the mass-produced versions you find shrink-wrapped at markets and stores; cakes that have been factory-baked and filled with preservatives so they can survive on the shelves for as long as necessary (which might mean until the end of time). If you tried one of those fruitcakes once and hated it, I don’t blame you. But I also pity you, because a real, fresh, home-cooked fruitcake is a holiday treat of unparalleled deliciousness. And you don’t have to worry about artificial preservatives when you have the best preservative around for this kind of thing:
I discovered Alton Brown’s seminal fruitcake recipe a number of years ago, and it has become a staple of my holiday rituals. You can find the recipe here. And you can watch the segment of his excellent Good Eats series where he makes it right here:
As with any good cook, I often add some variations, usually out of necessity more than anything else. First, we couldn’t find currants this year, so I just upped the amount of dried raisins, cherries, and blueberries I used to make up the difference. I also used a lot more candied ginger than called for in the recipe. I love ginger, and I love my creations to have bold flavors. And I made sure the maceration (the re-hydration of the dried fruits with the rum) happened over about 3 days, just to get all the flavor in.
Speaking of which, you’ll notice the recipe calls for fresh spices, and in the video Alton mentions they are usually much stronger than store-brand spices, so he uses very little. Many of us don’t have the ability to hunt down fresh spices in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, so I did use store-bought dried spices. But I tripled the measurements of each to make sure the flavors came through.
All I can say is that it all worked. This fruitcake comes out moist, succulent, and spicy! It’s perfect paired with some fresh whipped cream, or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, or even some mascarpone.
Again, I’d like to thank Kenmore for sponsoring this series of holiday baking stories. Kenmore makes a great line of kitchen appliances that are both functional and stylish, and everything baked or boiled in our kitchen is done on a Kenmore appliance. You can learn more at Kenmore.com.