It's that time of year again, when my thoughts turn to Christmas and I remember just in the nick of time that I need to make fruitcake.
I know fruitcake has it rough. Like a lot of food you buy at the store (I'm looking at you white strawberries) it is in no way comparable to homegrown or homemade. Fruitcake is one of those things I always thought about making but never did because I was sure it would be difficult. When I finally did make it, I was shocked at how easy it was. If you can throw together a boxed cake mix, you can make fruitcake.
The longer a fruitcake sits, the better it gets which is why people used to start them just after Christmas for eating during the next year's holiday season.
To make a small fruitcake that will be enough for 4-6 people you will need;
3/4 cup mixed dried fruit
1/4 cup chopped nuts or more dried fruit
1/4 cup + 1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons milk
small (8x4 ish) loaf pan
First off, chop up any large pieces of fruit. This year I used a mix of golden raisins, black currants and papaya but I've used pineapple, apricots and cranberries in the past. I don't use nuts so I just use 1 full cup of fruit. Pour the fruit into a small bowl with 1/4 cup of rum. Stir it up, cover it and let sit for 24 hours. Every year I pull out all the cake ingredients and get ready to make it only to remember that I have to soak the fruit first.
Once the fruit has soaked, preheat your oven to 325F. Butter the loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy then beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon and add to the sugar mixture, alternating with the molasses and milk. Fold in rummy fruit. Pour into your prepared loaf pan and pop into the oven.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of rum. Soak a piece of cheesecloth that is large enough to wrap around the cake with 1 tablespoon of rum. Lay it out on a piece of parchment paper that is also large enough to wrap around the cake.
When the cake is cool enough to unmold without wrecking it, turn it out of the pan onto the cheesecloth/parchment. Sprinkle the remaining rum all over the cake. Wrap the cheesecloth around it and then the parchment. Place in a large Ziploc bag or airtight container and let it age in your cupboard. If you age it for more than 10 weeks you are supposed to sprinkle more rum on it every ten weeks after that.
This cake is very rich so you don't need to eat a lot of it to be satisfied. Unless your name is Limey and you can devour an entire loaf in one sitting. It is definitely not brick-like and nobody will be snickering about it after they've had a taste.