Fruitcake Two Ways

Fruitcake you’ll love… seriously

When we were coming up with holiday blog ideas last month, someone mentioned fruitcake. Yep, the perfect holiday treat… or joke, depending on whom you ask. Regifted, shot out of cannons or used as a doorstopper, poor fruitcake needed a break.  So we decided it was time to share a few fruitcake recipes that might put a smile on people’s faces because they actually taste really good. 

Ginger shares a classic recipe from her mom, Earlene, that, for her, evokes the flavors of the season and happy holiday memories. “This one you might not send to your friends,” Ginger said. “Because you’ll enjoy every bite with coffee in the morning or with hot cocoa on a chilly afternoon.”

Ginger tells us the recipe came from Earlene’s good friend Juanita Jarmon, who was a neighbor when Earlene and her husband, Roy, lived in Muleshoe, Texas, back in 1948. Recipe books from the turn of the last century called this kind of cake “lemon fruit cake” or “white fruit cake.”

They’re buttery cakes lightly flavored with lemon or rum and studded with sparkly candied fruit. The little cakes keep well, make pretty gifts and offer a yummy take on retro holiday baking. 

For Chef Deb, it was another matter altogether. Fruitcake was definitely not on her “nice” list. But she did what she always does when faced with a culinary challenge, she did a little research, found a recipe she liked, played around in the kitchen and came up with something she could love.

“I broke down the origins of the fruitcake and looked at its closely related cousins that I love, panforte and stollen. I wanted to find a recipe that offered the simple tart dried fruits and candied ginger found in stollen, and the bright citrus and floral notes found in panforte,” Deb said.

“After some research and many attempts I found a fruitcake recipe from Alton Brown that covered all the bases,” she said. “Deep, rich flavor, super moist and plenty of real dried fruit, fresh citrus and toasted nuts. To me it tastes like Christmas.”

To sum it up, both Ginger and Deb embrace the recipes they were brought up with as much as they love creating new dishes. It’s this combination of southern classic cooking and culinary innovation, delicious memories and exciting new traditions that all come together at Ginger and Baker. 

So, here’s a little taste. In the end, we fell in love with both. We hope you enjoy. 

Earlene’s Holiday Fruitcake

(courtesy of Juanita Jarmon)

  • 1 pound softened butter (not too warm or it won’t hold air)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 pound brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 ounce lemon flavoring or rum
  • 1 pound candied fruit
  • 1 pound chopped and toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line bottoms of an angel food cake pan with parchment paper (or use two 9×5-inch loaf pans, or four 4×4-inch square pans). Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add brown sugar and continue creaming. Add flour and flavoring, mixing to incorporate. Stir in fruit by hand. (Note: Mom used the pretty red and green candied fruit found at any grocery store.) Add chopped and toasted pecans. (Note: you can use any kind of nut you prefer, some recipes call for walnuts.) Bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Rum & Spice Fruitcake

(adapted from Alton Brown)

  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • zest of one lemon, coarsely chopped
  • zest of one orange, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
  • 1 cup gold or dark rum
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • brandy for basting and/or spritzing

Combine all the fruit, ginger and zests with rum, cover and let sit overnight. (Note: We made extra rum-infused fruit, and added a few tablespoons to an oatmeal cookie recipe and totally changed the cookie into something special.)
Add fruit and liquid to a pot with sugar, butter, apple juice and spices and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line the bottom of a 10-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Sift together flour, salt, soda and baking powder and stir into fruit mixture. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Fold in nuts. 

Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes. Check for doneness after 60 minutes using a tester inserted into the middle of the cake. If it’s clean, it’s done. If not, bake for 10 more minutes and check again. Place on a rack and baste or spritz well with brandy. When completely cool, wrap tightly.

Spritz or baste with more brandy every 2-3 days if cake seems dry, the flavor will deepen over the next two weeks. 

Notes: 

  • The dried fruit list is extensive (and expensive!), you don’t have to buy every fruit on the ingredient list. However, think of balance of flavors – apricots, dried cherries, and dried cranberries add a tart note and counter the sweetness of raisins and currants. Don’t use a sweet fruit without adding at least one or two tart fruits.
  • Feel free to increase the citrus in the recipe, lemon and orange zest add brightness and cuts through the sweetness.
  • If you omit or substitute a dried fruit, just make sure the volume or measure of fruit remains equal in the recipe.
  • Don’t omit the ginger if you can help it, we’ve found that just about everything is better when ginger is involved. 🙂

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