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
- 1 cup coarsely shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup milk
Heat raisins in alcohol or juice and soak overnight. 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.
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 6 eggs
- 2 tsp each vanilla and almond extract
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs 2 at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and almond flavorings.
- 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 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 275F and place a pie pan half filled with water on the lowest shelf (a “slow, moist oven”). Line 3 loaf pans with brown paper, then waxed paper. Fill pans with fruit batter and bake for 2 hours. Test for doneness.
Remove from oven and cool in pans. When cool, baste each cake with 3 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 3 tbsp more liquid. Store for one month or more before eating. Keeps up to 4 months in airtight container.