No baked good is as maligned as fruitcake recipes, despite its rich and decadent history and association with both Christmas and wedding celebrations. Fruitcake is typically heavy, with high concentrations of dried, candied fruits, and nuts soaked in brandy or rum, held together with just enough dough to bind the ingredients. Both the alcohol content and typical powdered sugar coatings help preserve the confection, giving fruitcake its phenomenal shelf life - often several months or even years. Many fruitcake connoisseurs feel that as the cakes age, their flavor mellows and improves.
There are a wide variety of fruitcake recipes, with both light and dark variations depending on how rich the cakes are and what specific fruits, sweeteners, and nuts may be used.
Variations on Fruitcake Recipes
While there are many variations of fruitcake recipes, in order to produce a decadent dessert bakers should follow general tips, including:
- Use fresh, quality ingredients, including spices and liquors, for the best taste.
- Soak fruit and nuts for several hours before baking in juice or liquors.
- Take care not to over bake, which would dry the cake, making it hard and crumbly.
- Drizzle juice or liquor over hot cakes to add additional flavor.
- Fruitcake recipes using liquor should be ripened or aged for several weeks before serving. Recipes without liquor do not need extra aging time.
- Refresh stale fruitcakes with gentle reheating.
The biggest tip for any fruitcake recipe is to not be afraid of making substitutions to suit your preferences. If the recipe calls for one type of nut that you don't like, use a different variety or eliminate the ingredient altogether (add additional fruit to compensate). If you don't care for liquor, feel free to use fruit juice instead. The most important guideline is to be sure that the relative proportions of fruit and nuts match the original recipe so the fruitcake has the desired weight and density. By making the fruitcake to match your tastes, the dessert will quickly become a favorite treat.