It’s the week after Canadian Thanksgiving – time to make the Christmas Fruit Cakes which are a staple gift for family and friends. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Judith’s Christmas Cake. I do them this early because they need time in the refrigerator to allow the rum that has absorbed into the fruit to osmose into the cakes themselves resulting in a dense, moist dark fruit cake.
The process started a week ago when I bought the fruit, dumped it into my 27 cup Tupperware mixing bowl with lid, added 8oz of dark rum, mixed it, covered it, and let the fruit stand for 5 days.
Yesterday was cake baking day. I invited my friend Ruby to join me – with that extra pair of hands the cakes came together in half the time!
Here’s the recipe [it’s a forgiving recipe – the amounts of fruit are approximate – I don’t measure, just guess – I must end up with a 18-20 c of fruit; the Tupperware mixing bowl is ~ 4/5 full]:
- 2 lbs. mixed candied fruit (a mixture of regular and deluxe which includes pineapple and cherries)
- 1 lb. red/green candied cherries
- 1 lb. Thompson raisins
- 1/2 lb dried cranberries
- add whatever other candied fruit you like – I add at least 1/2 lb chopped dried dates
- a 10-12 oz jar of a good orange marmalade
- 8 oz. dark rum
- Soak candied fruit, raisins, cranberries, dates in rum for 4-5 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 (Add the marmalade at this stage). I have a large 27 cup Tupperware mixing bowl with a lid that is perfect for this job.
- I turn my Tupperware covered container twice a day – by the end of 5 days, all the rum has absorbed into the fruit.
- 1 lb. butter
- 4 tsp. almond extract
- 4 tsp. vanilla
- 3 c. white sugar
- 2 c packed brown sugar
- 12 large eggs
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 c. molasses
- 6 c. flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 3 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. allspice
- 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1 tsp. cloves
- Preheat oven — 300° F
- Prepare loaf pans (8-9 two pound pans) by wiping with butter and sprinkling with flour. [I use aluminum 2 lb loaf pans and discard them afterwards; even so, I line them with strips of parchment from side to side – holding the parchment with clothes pins so when I add batter to the pan they keep the paper in place; makes lifting the baked cakes from the pan much easier]
- Transfer fruit to a very large mixing container [I use my lobster pot to mix these cakes because this is a double 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 [I actually used 14 large eggs this year – the cakes have come out fine]
- Add molasses and mix.
- Melt chocolate [I use my microwave oven for this – 1 min. stir, then a second minute and stir – if your chocolate still isn’t fully melted you can microwave a tiny bit longer] and add to batter and mix.
- Set aside while you prepare the dry ingredients
- 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 wet mixture to fruit and mix well. [You need a strong wooden spoon and even then you may need to dig deeply enough that your mixing hand is involved in the procedure!]
- 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 8-9 two pound cakes.
BTW – I double the wet and dry ingredients. [This year I got 9 2-lb cakes and 8 small (~1/2-lb) cakes]
If you enjoy a tasty dark fruit cake, do try this one.