Traditional Dark Fruitcake

A (hopefully) delicious fruitcake.

As usual, it’s been quite some time since I’ve added a post – and I realized that I missed celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Twizzling Whimsies!?!? Time flies during quarantine, or something? I started this silly little blog in 2009, and I never would have guessed that it would still be alive (just barely) over 10 years later – nor could I have imagined living through a massive global pandemic. But, here we are! What has happened since I last wrote? Well, let’s see… I started graduate school (again) and am working towards an MA in Political Science at the University of Arizona. When I’m not in (online) classes, I’m working hard (remotely, online…) at my full time day job, trying to exercise on a daily basis (rowing, walking the dog…), and I’ve picked up cooking and baking again. I’m not going to lie: I might have been inspired to get back into it following my quarantine binge-watch of ALL of the seasons of The Great British Baking Show. I know I’m late to the GBBS game.. but I love, love, love it – I’ve finally caught up with everyone else who’s loved the show for years.

As the holidays approach, I decided that I wanted to try to make a traditional dark fruitcake. My grandmother used to make one every year and send it to us. I must have eaten some, but I have no memories of the taste of it at all (which is weird? As I child I suspect all that candied citrus peel probably wasn’t my thing). I know fruitcake gets a bad rap… but I’m up for the challenge! So, can I make a tasty fruitcake? Only time will tell.

So, for my first fruitcake ever I went straight to the classic dark fruitcake recipe in my 2006 (75th Anniversary) edition of the Joy of Cooking, figuring it was probably a good place to start. I bought this edition of the Joy of Cooking shortly after it came out, and it’s one the first cookbooks I always turn to when I’m looking for a good, solid, reliable recipe for something/anything/everything. I honestly don’t think I could do without this book in my collection. Seriously, it seemingly has a recipe for EVERYTHING in it. Way back in the day, I thought about starting a blog where I would work through every recipe in this book (a la Julie and Julia), but quickly realized that would be, uh, a lot.

For the fruitcake, I decided to go with the version of the Dark Fruitcake recipe that would make two 9×5 inch cakes. Notably, there is another version of the recipe that makes four cakes! I don’t know if I even have a mixing bowl big enough for that many ingredients. I made just a few modifications to the recipe based on what I had in the house and/or what I like. The funny thing about this post is that I won’t know until Christmas if it’s any good (LOL). I’m “curing” the cakes in whiskey over the next few weeks, just to give it some fun holiday pizazz.

Of my favorite classic cookbooks, Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking

Note: Making fruitcake is not for the faint-hearted. The steps aren’t hard, per se… but there are a lot of ingredients and there is a lot of mixing involved. Also, chopping dates is a lot easier if you use an oiled knife (or oiled kitchen scissors). Although I used my stand mixer to combine most of the cake, mixing all the fruit and nuts in needed to be done by hand, which definitely gave me a good arm workout. This is a THICK batter.

So many ingredients.
Chopping the dates… so many dates. So sticky.
The super thick fruitcake batter.

Dark Fruitcake

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp gound cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • Grated zest and juice of two limes
  • 1/2 cup spiced rum
  • 2 1/2 cups of candied fruit (I used a store bought fruitcake mix!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dates
  • 1 1/2 cups zante currants
  • 1 1/2 cups golden raisins
  • Extra whiskey for brushing and soaking the cakes

Instructions

  • Bring all ingredients to room temperature. I pulled all the ingredients out about 2 hours before I started making the cakes.
  • Preheat the oven to 300F
  • Grease and line with parchment two 9×5 inch cake pans.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients, including the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, and ginger.
  • In another bowl, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter until creamy (about a minute)
  • Gradually add light and dark brown sugars, beating on high speed as you go until lighter in color (this step took me about 5 minutes)
  • Beat the 6 eggs into the butter.sugar mix, one egg at a time (scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Then add the maple syrup, molasses, and lime zest and juice.
  • On low speed, add a third of the flour mixture, then 1/4 cup of the spiced rum, the next third of the flour mixture, the remaining 1/4 cup of spiced rum, and then the final third of the flour mixture. Do not over mix.
  • Then, by hand, fold in and mix all the fruit and nuts into the batter.
  • Evenly divide the batter between your two prepared pans (I honestly didn’t think the batter would fit in two pans, but it was perfect! Remember, this cake won’t rise much at all).
  • Bake until a cake tester comes out clean (for me, this was about 2 hours at 300F).
  • Let the cakes cool in their pans for at least an hour before turning them out. From what I’ve read, fruitcakes are prone to crumbling if turned out too soon while they’re still too hot.
  • After an hour, invert the cakes onto a wire cooling rack and then let them cool right side up.
  • IF STORING for a few weeks: Once I turned the cakes out onto the wire rack, I brushed about a half cup of spiced rum onto the cakes (1/4 cup per cake). I covered the tops and sides with rum using a pastry brush. Once they were cool, I cut a flour sack towel in two and soaked each half in Irish Whiskey (not dripping wet, but definitely damp). I then wrapped each cake in the soaked towels, and then wrapped them in plastic wrap to keep everything sealed in. My cakes are now “curing” in the fridge. I will check in on them over the next few weeks… but otherwise they should be good to go!

So, while my cakes soak up all the spirited deliciousness over the next few weeks, I remain hopeful that this will be an amazing cake (especially since I plan to gift one…). The batter tasted amazing – I might have taste tested along the way (and it seems like it can only be made better by soaking in whiskey and spiced rum?) These cakes also smelled AMAZING as they baked. I will report back once we’ve tried it! Here’s hoping my first attempt at fruitcake isn’t a disaster 🙂

The delicious cake batter, just before baking.

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