Baking is one of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy baking cookies, cakes, breads, pies, muffins, cupcakes, and much more.
A Little Christmas Story
Before I was born, my father used to work for a Scottish man named Hugh on his large estate in Perak, Malaysia. My father took care of his horses and his house, and sometimes he cooked for the family, too. Every year at Christmas, Hugh would bring a beautifully decorated box to my father; inside was a pleasant fruitcake packed with candied dried fruits. I loved listening to my father's stories about his younger days.
Inspired by this particular story, I decided to make a fruitcake to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
To make a fruitcake, you start by soaking the dried fruits in liquor or alcohol. In this recipe, I used raisins, dried cranberries, glazed cherries, and orange zest. I wish I also had sultanas in the mixture, but sultanas are not a common ingredient in U.S. supermarkets.
Some people add chopped nuts, such as cashews and pecans, but I didn't have any in my pantry, so I decided to leave them out. If you want to add nuts, just roughly chop them (about 1 cup) and mix them into the cake mixture before putting it in the prepared baking pan.
Why Is Alcohol Used in Fruitcakes?
People say that alcohol accentuates the cake's flavors and also acts as a preservative. Usually, brandy, dark rum, or red wine is used to soak the dried fruits overnight. However, I decided not to use alcohol and instead used orange juice. I prefer a strong citrus flavor in my fruitcake.
Tips for a Moist Fruitcake
A fruitcake usually takes three to four hours to bake or steam. I baked my cake in the oven, as my food steamer is not large enough to fit the pan. Fruitcake is best when it's moist and not dry. To retain the cake's moisture, brush the top of the cake top with the strained juice or orange juice. After that, cover the cake tightly with cling wrap and store it at room temperature. The longer it sits, the better the cake will be. Slice the cake when it's ready to be served. If you're using juice like me, refrigerate the cake after three days of being at room temperature.
By the way, did you know December 27 is National Fruitcake Day in the United States? I guess it's the perfect time to bake one!
I hope you will try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we do.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (add 1/3 cup more if the mixture is very sticky)
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 cup softened butter
- 1 1/2 cups mix dried fruits (I used dried cranberries, raisins, glazed red cherries, and 2 tablespoons orange zest)
- 1 1/3 cups orange juice, grape juice, or pineapple juice
- 3 large brown eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Soak the fruit mixture: In a jar, combine the raisins, dried cranberries, glazed cherries, and orange zest. Add the orange juice into the fruit mixture and cover it with cling wrap. Put the lid on the jar and store it at room temperature. (You can do this a day before and soak the mixture overnight.)
- On the day of baking: Preheat the oven to 290°F.
- Strain the fruit mixture and set aside. Save the strained juice for later.
- In a bowl, sieve the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the butter and dark brown sugar. Start mixing at low speed to combine. Switch to medium speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is creamy and pale.
- Lower the speed and add eggs one at a time.
- Add molasses, vanilla extract, and orange juice into the mixture.
- Add the flour mixture in two batches. Do not over-mix. Stop the mixer as soon as the mixture comes together.
- Add 3 tablespoons of flour into the mixed fruits and mix well. (This is to prevent the mixed fruit from sinking to the bottom of the pan.)
- In the same mixing bowl, add the mixed fruits. Use a spatula to combine the fruits into the cake mixture.
- Transfer the cake mixture into a prepared pan.
- Bake in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (Cooking time may vary depending on your oven.)
- Transfer the cake onto a wire rack to cool.
- Use a skewer to poke random holes in the cake.
- Brush the cake with the strained juice or orange juice.
- Wrap the cake with cling wrap to keep the moisture in the cake. Let it sit overnight at room temperature.
- Occasionally, the next day unwrap the cake and again brush the cake with juice.
- Slice the fruitcake when it's ready to be served.
- Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea!
© 2019 Liza