You may have been around me long enough to remember the Great Fruitcake Adventure a few years back. I set out on a mission to find the perfect fruitcake. Over the space of a year, I must have tried 100 fruitcakes. All of them were good, but none of them were just what I was looking for. Now, even a bad fruitcake is better than no fruitcake at all, so I have never stopped trying, albeit with a bit less intensity.
Last year, a friend made her own fruitcake, which was delicious. But more importantly, I was captivated by the thought of making my own. This year, as September rolled around, the moment was ripe (so to speak), and I set about creating the perfect fruitcake.
Our family requirements dictated some special needs. I do not like liquor, so my cake had to be alcohol free. My husband does not like nuts, so it had to stand on its own without the benefit of crunchy, delicious nuts. I like a dark, rich fruitcake. When it’s done right, you should only be able to eat a little slice, but within an hour you should find yourself creeping back for just another little bit.
As you may have guessed, I think I’ve done it! This cake is hitting all of my fruitcake buttons in a big, big way. I know I am supposed to let it age, but I can be fairly certain this is not going to last two weeks. And I had the best intentions of slicing it up and giving some to friends, but that is not going to happen either. Oh well, I guess I will have to make another one!
· 2 c currants
· 1 c golden raisins
· 1 c raisins
· 1 c glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
· 1 c ready-to-eat dried apricots, snipped into pieces
· 1/2 c candied orange peel, finely chopped
· 1 c white grape juice
· 1-1/4 c flour
· ½ tsp grated nutmeg
· ¾ tsp ground allspice
· 1-3/4 c butter, softened
· 1-3/4 c raw cane sugar
· 5 eggs, beaten
· 2 tbsp molasses
· 1 cup soaking liquid (see below)
· 1 c frozen dark cherries
· 1 c water
· ½ c raw sugar
Cook ingredients over a medium heat until bubbling.
Using an immersion blender, puree liquid.
Strain through a fine strainer and reserve liquid.
Put the currants, sultanas, raisins, glacé cherries, apricots and mixed peel in a large bowl. Stir in the grape juice, cover the bowl and leave in a cool place overnight.
Lightly grease a 9 inch deep round cheesecake pan. Cut a strip of baking parchment to fit twice around the sides of the tin, fold the bottom edge of the strip up by about, creasing it firmly, then open out the fold and cut slanting lines into this narrow strip at intervals. Put a circle of baking parchment into the base of the tin, lightly grease the outer edge and then fit the prepared strip of parchment with the snipped edge in the base of the tin to line the sides of the tin. Place a second circle of baking parchment in to cover the cut part of the paper.
Preheat the oven to 275F.
Put the flour, nutmeg, allspice, butter, sugar, eggs, almonds, and molasses in a large bowl and beat well. Fold in the soaked fruits.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon. Decorate the top with the glacé cherry halves, pushing them lightly into the top of the cake mixture. Cover the top of the cake loosely with a double layer of greaseproof paper. Bake for 4¼–4¾ hours, or until the cake feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and 'feed' with the soaking liquid. Once the cake is completely cold, leave the lining paper on the cake, wrap in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months, feeding at intervals with more liquid.