And now for something a little different … Christmas fruitcake. Yes, I know the humble fruitcake is universally reviled in the US, but in England and Canada, it’s a beloved centuries-old tradition—probably because we make it properly. I make mine in November—Thanksgiving weekend, in fact—because they have to cure for at least a month before eating. A few friends encouraged me to post my recipe, so here it is. The original was very traditional, but since I don’t live in a traditional place, I’ve made some changes that only make it yummier.
California Christmas Cake
The night before:
- 3 cups each dark and golden raisins
- 1 cup brandy, bourbon, whiskey (I use Jamieson’s), sherry, or clear fruit juice
Heat raisins in alcohol or juice and soak overnight.
- 1 cup coarsely shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup milk
Soak coconut in milk overnight in small bowl in fridge.
In the morning:
- 2 cups chopped dried fruit (peaches, apricots, apples, pears, etc.)
- 1 8-oz tub glace red cherries
- 1 8-oz tub citron peel
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Mix all the fruit in a very large bowl and toss with sifted flour.
- 3 cups butter, softened
- 4.5 cups granulated sugar
- 9 eggs
- 3 tsp each vanilla and almond extract
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs 3 at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and almond flavorings.
- 6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 6 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp salt
Re-sift the flour with baking powder and salt. Add alternately to the creamed mixture with the coconut and milk mixture. Combine batter thoroughly into fruit. It will be heavy; you may need to use both hands instead of a spoon (in which case, take your rings off).
Preheat oven to 275 and place a pie pan half filled with water on the lowest shelf. Line 6 loaf pans with brown paper, then waxed paper. Fill pans with fruit batter and bake for 90–100 minutes. Test for doneness.
Remove from oven and cool in pans. When cool, baste each cake with 2 tbsp whiskey or other liquid. Remove from pans with paper and wrap in zip bags or airtight container. Once a week, baste each cake with 2 tbsp more liquid. Store for one month or more before eating. Keeps up to 4 months in airtight container.