My mother made a fruitcake every Christmas to give as a gift for my paternal grandmother. The cake was stored in a corner of the refrigerator for weeks, marinating in an alcohol-infused mixture.
For a while, fruitcakes fell out of favor, but it seems that everything old is new again, because fruitcakes are making a comeback ... as energy fuel for hikers!
The first Christmas cakes were created in Britain and began life as something else entirely. Around the 16th century, during the early days of Christmas, a porridge was made to which dried fruits were added.
A cake at Christmas is a treat worthy of the holiday, whether it’s an antique fruitcake recipe like the one created by Brenda Braaten, or more modern treats. Nothing says “celebration” like a slice of Christmas cake, the perfect holiday indulgence!
BRENDA BRAATEN’S FRUITCAKE
8 ounces walnuts (2 cups)
8 ounces pecans (2 cups)
1/2 pound Brazil nuts (1 1/2 cups)
16 ounces pitted dates
15 ounces dried apricots
12 pitted prunes, halved
4 ounces mixed candied fruits (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
16 ounces maraschino cherries, drained (1 cup)
1 1/2 cup sifted unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup brandy
1. Heat oven to 300 F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment paper.
2. Using a large bowl, combine the walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, dates, apricots, prunes, mixed candied fruits, raisins and the cherries. Sift flour, baking powder and salt over the nuts and fruits. Toss lightly to coat the fruit and nuts to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
3. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until fluffy and light. Pour over nut and flour mixture, stirring gently to combine.
4. Fill prepared dish, pressing mixture firmly to keep its shape after baking. Bake for one hour. If fruits are browning too quickly, cover with foil.
5. Invert cake; peel off paper, turn right-side up, let stand on wire rack until cooled completely. When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer. Place the cake on a plate covered with cheesecloth. Pour the brandy over the top and sides. Let stand one hour.
6. Wrap the completely cold cake in the cheesecloth soaked in brandy, and again in foil, and store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a month for a better flavor. Serves 6 to 8.