Festive Fruitcake

This year, the Beard household is having a big, whiskey-soaked fruitcake. In years past I’ve made small fruitcakes, one pounders that were tasty and spirited, but this year it’s a bundt cake. The small loaf is gone too fast!

We were a store-bought, tea-totalling fruitcake family growing up. Nobody liked them, and nobody ate them. When I began making them my opinion of fruitcake changed. I went to all lengths, soaking brown paper and wrapping it tightly, tying in cheesecloth and keeping in a pot, baking in a Bain Marie. To my relief, I’ve found that regular baking techniques work just fine. A standard spice cake recipe with alcohol-soaked fruit bakes up perfectly. I continue “feeding” the cake every other day until serving.

This year I found no citron, but added apricot preserves and lingonberries. Instead of a vegetable oil I used coconut oil. This spice cake is a bit heavy on ginger, but that goes well with whiskey. I’m not a fan of chocolate fruitcake after having made one. It’s too much to me, gilding a lily, so to speak. I prefer the lighter zest in a spice cake, and it’s rich in flavor without being heavy to the palate. Fruitcakes are fed all sorts of alcohol to taste- rum, brandy, sherry, even liqueurs- but I like the whiskey’s headiness best.

In addition to the fruitcake, there is still sweet whiskey butter, homemade Irish cream and truffles yet to be made. But there’s plenty of time to have it all done before company arrives to indulge.

What are you making for your holidays? Any daring new recipes you’re trying? Any foodie traditions you’re working on? Please share them!

From the Beard house to yours, all the best for your holidays and the coming new year. Peace.

Comments | 8

  • Cakes

    It’s a buche de noel year for me. I’m gather my notes from the last time. I think it took three days to do the full thing last time, but I was new to it. Perhaps I can force it into a two-day process.

    It’s a chocolate cake rolled with a chocolate mousse filling, covered with chocolate ganache, then chocolate bark, plus meringue mushrooms (with white and dark chocolate), and sugar frosted rosemary sprigs.

    I may also make a chestnut cake version of a buche. I saw a new Martha Stewart recipe this year and may try it our. Not sure about chestnut- flavored cake, but I’m sure it’s mixed in nicely.

    • Buche de Noel

      A classic! Somewhat fussy, but not so fussy that it spoils the fun. Please let us know how the chestnut version turns out. I’m apprehensive. 😉

  • My dad used to make the most

    My dad used to make the most wonderful fruitcakes. He would start in early October so they had plenty of time to be “basted” with a very good brandy. He didn’t use citron but instead lots of dried apples, figs, dates, raisins,apricots,orange and lemon zest. I think he may have used orange juice for some of the mixing liquid. We kids would get to help him wrap them in brown paper and cheesecloth and they would reside in an old, quite large metal bread box- being brought out every couple of days to be “refreshed”. They were some of the best things I’ve ever eaten and certainly spoiled me for the dry, leaden fruitcakes that we accept as the real thing now. I’m so sorry that I didn’t write down his recipe -although he never cooked much by recipe-it was all ‘taste and see’. I cook like that myself so it’s almost impossible for me to share recipes because I seldom measure anything. I’ve tried to reproduce his wonderful holiday cakes – I’ve come close but have never been able to capture all the flavors that he did.

  • Tale of Two Fruitcakes

    How did these cakes described become what we know as fruitcakes? They seem miles apart from what is commonly sent around as a “gift,” which I find rather disgusting given all the other possible things one could be eating. But these recipes sound different?

    Just watched Pee Wee’s Christmas Special, in which all of his guests give him a fruitcake. King of Cartoons gives him two fruitcakes. Miss Yvonne gives him eight, for Chanukah. A giant box comes – Pee Wee hopes it isn’t a fruitcake – and it is Grace Jones!

    And so on. By the end, he’s building an addition of the playhouse made of fruitcakes.

    • Great show!

      You could certainly build something pretty sturdy if you used the abominations in most stores that are marketed as fruitcakes! A little flour paste and..voila!…a handy new structure somewhere.

      Regarding the beautiful fruitcakes that both Julia and I have posted about- I think a truly wonderful fruitcake has two basic components:
      Good quality ingredients and liquor (of your choice) and for the baker to be committed to spending the time necessary to lovingly tend to their cakes until they meet that moment of perfect blending of fruit, spices and booze.
      Then serve it with pride and enjoyment knowing that you have changed your guests impression of fruit cake forever.

  • Sweet whiskey butter?

    Do tell… how is it made and what it used for?

    I have my holiday list of cookies to work on. Each year I adjust the mix a bit, adding ones I like and removing the so-so ones. Chocolate cherry cookies, coconut macaroon xmas trees dusted with sugar, and gingerbread twigs with white chocolate bark are among my favorites.

    • Sweet Whiskey Butter

      It’s quite simple. Bring however much butter you want to use to room temperature. Beat in a large heaping TBL of confectioner’s sugar for every 1/2 lb of butter, and once that’s smooth, add a couple of TBL of whiskey. Whisk in until light, keep at room temperature and give it a stir every day or two. It’s a treat on your morning toast or muffins that I wouldn’t miss during the holidays.

      • sounds like "hard sauce"

        we put it on the plum or”christmas” pudding….butter, powdered sugar and rum. it was a christmas day tradition in my family growing up…plum pudding has no plums in it and it isn’t what americans thnk of as pudding so it was always hard to find a store bought one. this year i decided to make my own. it turned out okay and with a little tweaking and more alcohol, i think i can get it right! that is really what is wrong with most fruitcakes…a little soaking in rum and/or brandy does wonders! it isn’t JUST the alcohol itself. the flavors are brought out and it makes the cake nice and moist. i’m going to try doing a fruitcake for next year…i can’t find store bought ones any more to add rum and brandy to…they have such a bad reputation! there are lots of recipes online.

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