Saturday, December 4, 2010

Soused Fruit...At Least One Reason to Love Fruitcake

I've taken it upon myself to defend the much maligned "fruitcake", which has become the butt of many holiday jokes. It has been known to conjure up visions of "grannies" and  "brick doorstops". It has probably even made it on some list for the most dreaded gift to receive. In my case, I associate the fruitcake with the "magic of Christmas" past and "visions of sugarplums". I delight in each nutty and fruity morsel as does my friend Nicole, who is also a connoisseur of fine fruitcakes. I still recall the enjoyment long after the holidays had passed, savouring each bite of  her mother-in-law's treasured fruitcake during our coffebreaks at the office,.  I never did manage to get my hands on her recipe but was determined to one day, come up with one that met my standards.......plenty of brandy, plus tons of colourful fruit and nuts.

Last year, I fell upon a "Robin Hood flour "recipe, and adapted it to my liking by adding molasses for its taste, plus additional nuts and fruit. The results were so good that I ended up rationing what was given away, in order to have some for the months to follow. Now as November rolls around, I already envision the ingredients I want to incorporate and the challenge of finding them at my favourite stores.

Let your imagination and taste buds guide you in choosing the fruits and nuts to personalize the recipe. Brazilian nuts hold special childhood memories of my parents  festive Christmas table. I've always loved the rich exotic flavour and texture of  the nuts, and I make sure to have a healthy helping in my recipe, along with the abundant almonds, pecans and hazelnuts already in the mix.  Candied mango is another favourite which I couldn't resist adding for flavour and colour.  I guess  the final recipe is a mishmash of tropical (mango, papaya and pineapple) ingredients and the the more traditional ones (raisins, currants and candied cherries). The other vital ingredient is the brandy, and I admit having a heavy hand when it comes to adding it to the recipe. I can never resist sneaking a few pieces of the fruit and nuts from the bowl, as it sits on my kitchen counter soaking all the wonderful flavour of that golden brandy. In fact, I believe the glistening fruit and nuts mixture is probably the reason for  my  procrastination, allowing the fruit and nuts to macerate longer than the twenty four hours suggested in most recipes.

The following ingredients posted are from the original Robin Hood recipe, and below is my adapted version with more than the suggested amount of fruit and nut mixture. Who needs all that batter anyway when you have all that amazing soused fruit and nut mixture as the star of the show. The addition of  extra fruit and nuts made for a monstrous amount of batter; enough for two 8" loaves, two smaller loaves, and one long bread loaf pan. 

I can't wait to see your take on the fruitcake debate and hopefully have a few chuckles along the way.

Robin Hood  Flour Fruitcake Recipe:
Fruit and Nuts:
1 cup chopped dried apricots
3 cups raisins
2 cups candied pineapple,coarsely chopped
2 cups candied cherries halved
2 cups mixed candied peel
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/4 butter, softened
1 1/2 cup liquid honey
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 eggs

Preheat the oven to 275º F and prepare three 9x9 loaf pans (greased and lined with parchment paper)
In a large mixing bowl toss the fruit and nuts in 1 cup of flour to coat. In another bowl combine the 1 1/2 cups of flour, baking powder,salt, and spices. Set aside. Cream the butter, honey and vanilla on medium speed of an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the dry ingredients, on low seed until blended. Stir in the fruit and nut mixture. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans. Place a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven and place the cakes on the middle rack. Bake for 2-21/2 hours or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Wrap well and store in a cool dry place.

Anna's  2010 Fruitcake Version:

Fruit and Nuts Mixture:
2 cups dried pineapple cut into small pieces
3/4 cup candied pineapple pieces
1/2 cup dried papaya cut into pieces
1 cup dried apricots coarsely chopped
1 cup dried mango coarsley chopped
2  cups candied mixed fruit
2 cups red and green candied cherries
3/4 cup dried cherries
2 1/2 cups Thompson raisins
2 cups golden raisins
1 cup currants
2 cups Brazilian nuts
2 cups  slivered almonds
2 cups pecans
1 cup hazelnuts
2 cups brandy

In a large pour the brandy into the fruit and nut mixture. Toss to coat with the brandy. Allow to macerate for 24 hours.

Substitute half of the honey in the original recipe with dark molasses, giving you 3/4 cups honey and 3/4 cups molasses.  Coat the soused fruit with a cup of flour and set aside.  Follow the same directions for the batter as the recipe above.

Once cooled pour a splash of brandy on the cakes and wrap in cheesecloth and aluminum foil. Store in a cool and dry place until Christmas......if you can resist.


  1. I certainly would not malign that fruitcake if it came my way. Candied mango! Papaya! Brazil nuts! Now that's a sweet mixture! It does conjure up visions of sugarplums.

  2. I think this is the fruitiest of all fruit cakes I have ever seen!

    It looks absolutely divine :)

  3. I have been looking for this kind of fruit cake recipe for a long time....mostly fruit.....thank you so much for sharing!!!! :))

  4. Claudia, I'm a big fan of tropical fruits. Glad you enjoyed my take on fruitcake.

  5. Susan, I might have gone overboard with the fruit and nut content but that's how I love my fruitcake. My husband is still wondering where the batter went too.

  6. Angie I can never resist putting in more tham required amounts of fruits and nuts but no complaints from my end....the more the merrier.

  7. Hillary, thanks for your seal of approval! My husband's first reaction was to comment on the fact that the cake is composed of all nuts and fruit but no batter.I'm like a child in a candy shop when shopping for the ingredients for my fruitcake. I get all excited with the variety available that I throw caution to the wind when it comes to recommended quantities.

  8. I have never understood why people have such animosity towards fruitcake! I must have been blessed with only having to sample high quality cakes because I quite enjoy these cakes. I love all of the dried fruits that you put into your recipe. This seems to be bursting with flavor! Thank you so much for sharing! Have a good Sunday afternoon.

  9. Anna, I feel the same going out now to search for some "exotic" candied fruits and may try to candy some chestnuts?.....The more fruit and nuts the better!!!! :))

  10. I still struggle to enjoy the fruit cake / Christmas pudding.. but I am always happy to try different versions hoping someday I will find the one to change my mind. Maybe this is it?? :) The flavors sound amazing!

  11. Candied mango with Brazil nuts (as a child I picked out all the Brazil nuts because they were only around at Christmas) all marinated and brought together into one cake. With molasses? You heavenly woman you! Beautiful cake.

  12. Thanks Monet, I had a lovely Sunday afternoon. I'm still stunned by the strong reaction people have to fruitcake. What is it about fruitcake that has traumatized so many? I'm so happy to share my enthusiasm with others who appreciate this much maligned delicacy.

  13. Hillary, go for it!!! I love the idea of candied chestnuts, another of my favourites. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

  14. Kimberly, don't feel bad because you are definitely not alone. My daughter won't go near the stuff regardless of my attempts to have her try my homemade fruitcake.

  15. Amanda, I would do the exact same thing at Christmas time. My mom always had a bowl of mixed nuts on table, and I too would automatically aim for the Brazilian nuts. I made sure that my cake had plenty of them in the cake. I love the flavour of molasses, so I figured why not incorporate into the cake. The cake was really all about my favourite ingredients.

  16. Your fruitcake looks incredible. I do enjoy fruitcake (homemade only!) and I'll hold onto this recipe.

  17. Thanks for dropping in Beth, I can't agree with you more. It is difficult to find a fruitcake that compares to a homemade one.

  18. i love fruit cakes.. we make this every year for christmas.. and sometimes all year round when we have the cravings! this looks so good. thanks for sharing this. have a nice day.

  19. Wow, this cake looks fabulous!
    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

  20. I also love fruitcake! I love the denseness of it and this looks wonderful.

  21. An impressive fruit cake and so much fruits! This must be extremely delicous!

  22. blackbookkitchendiaries,
    It's so nice to see how many do appreciate the maligned fruitcake. I'm like you, and try to make mine last long after the holidays. It's such a treat to have just a little bite from time to time.

  23. Roxan, I'm so glad to see that we have another in the fruitcake camp. Inspite of all my attempts I still can't convince my daughter.
    Thanks for your visit and signing up as a follower.

  24. Thanks Quay Po. I love mine with plenty of fruit and a variety of nuts, using always more than the suggested amount.

  25. Cheers to your fruitcake. It's awesome. Wow.

    Happy holidays to you.

  26. Thanks do much Velva. I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe post. Happy holidays to you too.

  27. Wait - fruitcakes aren't meant to be used as brick doorstops? What?! Just kidding. I've never had fruitcake before but I knew there had to be a reason why people kept making them.

  28. wow DENSE does not even come close to describing this - beautiful!

  29. Merut, It's OK, my own family continue to make uncalled jokes about my beloved and much maligned fruitcake. I guess my secret is out! It's really the soused fruit that keeps the connoisseurs coming back each year to the recipe. Gotta love all that brandy doing its magic on the nuts and fruit mixture.

  30. doggybloggy,
    Thanks for the visit and taking the time to comment. I know it's an impossibly dense fruitcake,and just the way I like it. My husband is still wandering where the batter part of the cake went to.

  31. This looks amazing. I cannot wait to try it.


  32. Rob, you're on as long as you don't mind the minuscule amount of batter. After all,the recipe does say "FRUIT"cake. Thanks for writing in and their is a section reserved with your name.