I make a wicked dark fruitcake. I always make them around Canadian Thanksgiving — that gives the rum in the fruit time to suffuse into the cake. This year I was a week late but the cakes (I made 9 this year) are done and now aging in the fridge.
The two essential ingredients are the melted semi-sweet chocolate and the molasses. Don’t leave these out.
I don’t use nuts because they have a tendency to go stale. These cakes last well for more than a year.
I gave one I had leftover from last year to friends today — it was better than it was last Christmas!
Here’s the recipe [it’s a forgiving recipe – the amounts of fruit are approximate – I don’t measure, just guess]:
- 2 lbs. mixed candied fruit
- 1 lb. red/green candied cherries
- 1 lb. sultana raisins
- add whatever other candied fruit you like
- 8 oz. dark rum
- 1/2 lb. butter
- 2 tsp. almond extract
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/2 c. white sugar
- 1 c packed brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 1/4 c. molasses
- [a small jar of grape jelly, strawberry or apricot jam, or marmalade – these days I use marmalade]
- 3 c. flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg (fresh if possible)
- 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- Soak candied fruit and raisins in rum for 3-4 days before making the cakes. Add rum to the fruit, cover bowl with plastic wrap and stir occasionally to make sure rum is absorbed by the fruit.
- Preheat oven — 275° F
- Prepare loaf pans (4-5 two pound pans) by wiping with butter and sprinkling with flour. [I often use aluminum loaf pans and discard them afterwards or I line conventional loaf pans with parchment — that works very well]
- Transfer fruit to a very large mixing container [I use my lobster pot to mix these cakes because I double the recipe and with all the fruit and batter, it’s a large amount of stuff!]
- In a second large mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add almond extract and vanilla and incorporate.
- Add sugar and cream until well blended. Add eggs one at a time beating well until incorporated into mixture.
- Add molasses.
- Melt chocolate [I use my microwave oven for this] and add.
- [Add jam or jelly or marmalade if you’re using it]
- In a separate large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices.
- Add about half of this mixture to the candied fruit and mix well.
- Add remaining flower mixture to fruit and mix.
- Add butter and egg mixture to fruit and mix well.
- Fill loaf pans about 3/4 full. [The cakes rise and will spill over into the oven if the pans are too full; I put the loaf pans on a cookie sheet to catch any spill over — I’ve had to clean the oven more than once so I don’t take chances any more]
- Place pans in middle of oven.
- Bake slowly. Test with a skewer. Cakes are done when the skewer comes out clean. [Takes anywhere from about 1 1/2 to 3 hours]
- Remove cakes from oven. Place on a rack to cool.
- Once they’re completely cool, remove the cakes from the pans [peel away parchment if you’ve used it].
- Wrap each cake in waxed paper. Put each into a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least a month before using.
Depending on the amount of fruit you use, this recipe makes between 4 – 6 two pound cakes. [Since I double the recipe, I generally get 6 2-lb cakes and 10 small (~1/2-lb) cakes]
These cakes make terrific gifts—that’s what I do with the abundance I make.