Forget the candied lemon peel and glace cherries. Make a fruitcake even fruitcake haters will love.
Step 1: Plan ahead Fruitcake should be made at least two weeks ahead to give the fruit and brandy time to age, so be sure to leave yourself enough time.
Step 2: Soak the fruit Combine the raisins, currants, mixed dried fruit, ginger, and citrus zest in the nonreactive pot. Then pour the bourbon or rum over the fruit and let it soak overnight.
TIP: For non-alcoholic fruitcake, use orange, cranberry or apple juice instead of bourbon or rum.
Step 3: Heat fruit mixture To the soaked fruit, add the apple juice, sugar, butter, cloves, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Then the reduce heat and let it simmer. After 10 minutes, remove from heat.
TIP: A nonreactive pot is one made of stainless steel, anodized aluminum, or enameled aluminum—not aluminum on its own.
Step 4: Preheat oven Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Step 5: Prepare the batter In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Step 6: Combine fruit and flour mixtures When the fruit mixture has cooled for 15 minutes, sift the flour mixture into it. Then combine using the wooden spoon.
Step 7: Add eggs and nuts Mix in the eggs one at a time, and then fold in the chopped nuts.
Step 8: Bake Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Step 9: Liquor it up! Using the brush, baste the top with some of the brandy or fruit juice. Let the loaf cool completely before removing it from the pan.
Step 10: Wrap it up Wrap the cake in parchment paper, then in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and store in a cool, dark place. Check the cake every few days and, if dry, brush it with enough brandy or juice to moisten—not soak—it. Then rewrap tightly.
TIP: If you’re planning to freeze the fruitcake, age it first.
Step 11: Glaze and garnish Just before serving, heat the remaining sugar with water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Brush this glaze over your fruitcake and garnish with dried fruits and nuts.
FACT: Did you know? In 17th-century England, when fruitcake was served at weddings, unmarried guests would take a slice home and put it under their pillows so they would dream of the person they would marry.