I know what you’re thinking….oh geez, a fruit cake! Never! Those hard-as-bricks, not-worthy-of-eating, fruitcakes. The only thing a fruitcake is good for is a doorstop or a re-gift. Who’s going to be the recipient of this re-gifted cake this year?
Trust me on this one….this recipe will turn your head and heart around 180 degrees . You will become a fruitcake believer and aficionado. Honest, you will.
The non-vegan version was my godmother’s recipe. Aunt Dot would bake her fruitcakes weeks before the holidays because once out of the oven, the time begins to macerate them every several days with brandy until they become this incredible delicacy of luxurious fruits and nuts with only just enough cake around them to hold them together. I knew it was the onset of the holidays when Aunt Dot, with my cousin, Daria, alongside her, would be chopping up all the ingredients that were destined to take center stage.
Now, admittedly, this cake takes some prep time, figure about two hours if you have a food processor, longer if you are going to chop your fruits and nuts the old-fashioned way, with a knife. Then there is the bake time, slow and low, three hours in total.
But again, you (and your gifted recipients) will be joyfully rewarded for all your attentiveness to the details and your patience.
I found several websites that sell all natural and/or organic candied fruits. This certainly is a much better alternative over using the supermarket candied fruits that are loaded with artificial color and preservatives. One of my favorite websites for purchasing candied fruits is www.Markethallfoods.com. You certainly could get really ambitious by making your own candied fruits. It’s not really all that difficult, but you must be extremely careful when handling the hot sugared fruits—a liquid sugar burn is probably one of the worst and most painful burns you can get. Candied fruit, if stored in glass Mason jars, sealed well, and refrigerated, will last a long time; so I usually stock up when I order. I’ve even used the leftover candied fruits to make shortbread cookies. I just cut back slightly on the sugar and press the fruit onto the top of the shortbread prior to baking. Yum! If you really want to get decadent, you can then dip these fruited shortbread cookies into some luscious dark chocolate. Need I say more?
Here’s Aunt Dot’s Non-Vegan recipe:
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
½ cup molasses
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon each of baking soda, cinnamon, cloves (ground), nutmeg, and allspice
5 cups flour
1 pound each of:
- Candied cherries
- Candied citron
- Candied pineapple
- Candied orange peel
½ pint brandy
Mix all ingredients (except the brandy) together. Bake 3 hours (1 hour @ 250 degrees, then 2 hours 2 @ 225 degrees). Makes 7 small or 4 large fruitcakes.
Here’s my veganized version, which will make 2 large, 4-5 small, or 1 large and 3 small fruitcakes:
Note: This is where the importance of Mis-en-place is hand in very handy. Prep each of the grouped ingredients separately so that when you finish with your mis-en-place, you have all your ingredients staged in 4 bowls. Once you finish that process, the mixing will be rather easy (and you will have a neat and clean kitchen workspace).