plain fruitcake

They have been called doorstops, bricks, ugly fruit things and worse! Fruitcakes have been much maligned over the years and admittedly sometimes, they have deserved these monikers. Thanks to an obscure group of monks diligently working away in their austere kitchens, fruitcakes have sadly evolved from the traditional, fruit filled plain cake to hunks of cake topped with "plastic" looking fruit. Carmen Miranda comes to mind!! This is an old family recipe, quick and simple to make, and while it does contain fruit inside, it is not with so smothered in fruit topping that it looks like it should hang on the tree! Its flavor, texture and simplicity have even converted former fruitcake haters! Try it, you might like it!

Things You Will Need

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup dark raisins

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup currants

10-12 candied cherries, chopped finely

2oz mixed peel

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tsp baking soda

4 oz butter

1 cup plain flour

1 cup self rising flour

2 eggs, beaten

Step 1

Prepare the oven and baking pan: Set at 350 degrees and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease the bottom and sides of a round, deep cake pan with butter. Trace and cut a round circle from a brown paper bag or brown kitchen paper and insert into the bottom of the pan. Cut a strip of brown paper the height of the pan plus 2" then line the sides of the pan. Grease the sides and bottom of the paper with butter.

Step 2

boiled fruitcake mix

In a small to medium saucepan, place the sugar, water, dried and candied fruit, peel, walnuts, spices, baking soda and butter. Cook fruit mixture over medium heat, stirring until boiling. Take the saucepan off the heat and cool for about 5 minutes. Add the beaten eggs then mix well to combine.

Step 3

Sift plain and self-rising flours; slowly fold into mixture. Mix well. Pour mix into prepared cake pan and place in oven to bake for 1 hour. After 55 minutes, test for doneness with a cake skewer inserted into the middle. It is done if skewer is dry after removal. Cool cake for 10 minutes in the cake pan before turning onto a cake rack to cool completely. To serve, cut fruitcake into small 1" x 3" slices.

Step 4

To create a traditional flavorful and moist cake, brush cake with rum then wrap in two layers of foil and store in an airtight container. Cake can be unwrapped, re-brushed with rum every two days for a week before serving if desired, then rewrapped and stored.

Fruitcakes, a food that dates back as far as the Roman times can be delicious anytime of the year, not just at Christmas time or weddings where it is the traditional offering in some countries. Queen Victoria was known to have served fruitcake at her wedding and ate a stored piece of it one year later as part of tradition. Two more slices, 167 years old were part of the exhibition at the Windsor Castle in April 2007 and remained on view for a year but alas, only the eyes could feast on the cake. There was no information as to whether or not it was actually edible.

Tips & Warnings

As cooking times may vary depending on the oven, remove fruitcake from oven once you begin to smell a slight burnt smell to avoid overcooking.

Fruitcake will freeze successfully for at least a year. To serve, allow cake to thaw about 30-45 minutes. Rewrap remaining cake and place back in the freezer.

Do not open the oven door until at least 30 minutes from baking start time to avoid sinking in the middle.