This recipe is for Christmas Fruitcake. Or any time of the year fruitcake. Day or night. But not when you operate heavy machinery...there is booze, alcohol, drink, prohibition water or as we know it, wine and brandy in this recipe. :-)
This recipe comes from my Mother-in-Law, who got it from her Mother (Good Old Gran - just don't tell her I said Old!) and so forth. The recipe is my take on the traditional one, so another twist in the family favourite!
Please take note: Insert your own disclaimer here. You ARE going to work with kitchen utensils. You ARE going to work with the oven for extended periods of time. Things WILL get hot. Be Carefull!
Oh yes, you will also be working with alcohol, don't taste too much during the process, and if you do, be responsible about it. Also respect others who do not drink - do not offer this "matured" fruitcake to members of AA (or similiar organisations) as it might offend or cause a relapse.
Step 1: Shopping List (Ingredients)...
The Basic Shopping List:
- No need to switch on the oven yet...
Part 1 - The Fruit Part:
☐ 200g / 7 oz Mixed Citrus Peel
☐ 200g / 7 oz Glace Cherries - Cut in Half
☐ 400g / 14 oz Glace Cherries - Whole^
☐ 125g / 4.5 oz Glace Ginger Pieces - Cut in Pieces
☐ 250g / 9 oz Pitted Dates - Cut in Pieces
☐ 140g / 5 oz Dried Sultanas
☐ 1kg / 2.2 lbs Mixed Fruit (This one has real glaced cherries in the mix)
^ Try getting bright red and green and yellow cherries to jazz up the colour of the cake. I could only get dark red ones, which tend to disappear in the process.
Part 2 - The Booze Part:
☐ 375ml / 1½ Cup Dessert (Sweet) Wine
☐ 125ml / ½ Cup Cognac Brandy
Part 3 - The Morning After Part:
☐ 125ml / ½ Cup Cognac Brandy
☐ 350g / 12 oz Castor Sugar
☐ 7ml / 1½ Teaspoons Baking Soda (Bicarb Soda)
Part 4 - The Mixing and Baking Part
☐ 250g / 9 oz Butter - Melted
☐ 4 Eggs
☐ 575g / 20oz / 1.2 lbs Cake Flour
☐ 15ml / 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
☐ 10ml / 2 Teaspoons Mixed Spice
☐ 20ml / 4 Teaspoons Cocoa
☐ 10ml / 2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
☐ 5ml / 1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
☐ 2ml / Pinch / Less than ½ a Teaspoon Salt
☐ 10ml / 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Essence
Part 5 - The Preserving and Enjoying Part
☐ Cognac Brandy to your liking (for the cake, Peeps!)
☐ Tin Foil
☐ A Fridge/Freezer
Step 2: The First Mix...
Mixing the Fruit...
Get your fruit out of the bags and throw it together in a big mixing bowl. From here on end, be gentle with your fruit - you don't want to break it. I am going to repeat myself here, so be patient...and gentle!
Mix the fruit through with either your hands (which will ensure you do not break the whole cherries) or a spatula (you might break the cherries…)*
Do not use a food processor as this will break the fruit into very small pieces and ruin the fruitcake. The secret is in the whole fruit, otherwise you could have bought a store fruitcake… seriously… nobody likes store bought fruitcake...
Mix the Dessert Wine and Brandy together and then mix this through the fruit mix. Wrap the fruit-brandy mix with clingfilm and leave this overnight in a cool place (not the fridge).
* A point to make, I used my hands to combine and mix the fruit and batter through-out the whole recipe. You have more control over the mix and won't break the fruit this way. TLC… (Tender Loving Care…)
Step 3: The Inbetween Mix...and Prep...
Add the Booze! (And start fighting the minors off...)
Add to the now well soaked fruit mix the other Brandy, castor sugar and baking soda;
Mix together well;
Wrap with clingfilm again and leave for another hour or two.
Meanwhile, back at the Mix-Cave...
Sift the dry ingredients (as referenced in Part 4) together;
Beat the 4 eggs lightly (insert your own joke here if you have had a taste of the brandy and wine to make sure it is still ok to use, but be wary of the chicken/egg society, they can get quite ruffled); and
Melt the butter so that it cools down a wee bit;
Line or prepare how-ever you wish a large cake tin, about 27x27x8cm (minimum for this recipe).
Step 4: The Big Mix
At Last!...The Mixing of Everything Part.
Set the oven to 120 degrees Celsius and allow to heat up;
Add the melted butter to the fruit mix. Combine well;
Now add the eggs and combine well;
Add the dry mixture to the fruit mixture in stages and combine well - ensure there are no clumps or blobs of flour mix;
Add the essence lastly and mix one final time;
Transfer the fruitcake mix to the cake tin.
Step 5: Low and Slow...And All's Well That Ends Well!
Steady as she goes...
Transfer your fruitcake mix to the cake tin and allow it to settle into the corners (wait...dêja vû!?);
Place the whole shebang in the oven (on the lower middle shelf) and bake at 120 degrees Celsius (250 degrees Fahrenheit) for one hour;
After one hour, lower the heat to 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit) and bake for another 4½ hours.
After the big bake...
After the baking process, and immediately after removing the cake, pour (more sprinkle of sorts) a cup of Brandy over the cake (from the centre out) and allow to absorb;
Cover loosely with foil to ensure a bug-free, finger free, lick free fruit cake.
I left mine for a day (in the cake tin, but only if the tin does not have previous rust on it - mine is the non-stick coating variety) and then added another cup of Brandy the next day.
At this stage you can remove the fruitcake from the tin and wrap it tightly in foil.
Place it in the fridge and in the next couple of weeks to follow, open the cake up and sprinkle with half a cup of Brandy until you feel it is enough. The cake should be mildly moist, not soggy.
Option 2,and also a continuation from Option 1 if you opted for that, well, Option!:
At this stage you can cut the cake into manageable pieces and freeze it, taking it out of the freezer a couple of hours before you consume it. As it is full of Brandy, it rarely freezes solid.
Step 6: Some Notes, Afterword, or How-ever You Want to Call It...
This fruitcake can last for many moons in the freezer due to the fact that it was baked low and slow. We usually freeze ours and eat it over the span of a year (if it lasts that long). Remember to keep it wrapped tightly in the Tin Foil. No air-bubbles where possible…
This is the bare-bones fruit cake recipe. If you want to add nuts, go nuts (pun intended), but be wary as nuts do not last long at all. (I hate nuts in my fruit cake, after all, it’s a fruit cake!)
You could also cover the cake with marzipan and fondant. The cake is lekker (delicious, tasty, groovy, etc. in Afrikaans - South African Afrikaans) if you heat a piece up for dessert and eat it with custard.