It’s That Time of Year!
There are Christmas traditions in my family that just seem to keep the sentimentality and purpose of this season Alive for me. Whether it be pulling out this ceramic tree from my mom’s twin sister, my Aunt Terri, or beginning the holiday baking annually with a beloved Fruitcake recipe from my mother in law, now passed, Marie Amato; it is in these reminders that the Spirit of Christmas lives on in each of us.
No one enjoyed baking at Christmastime more than my mother-in-law, Marie. She would start right after Thanksgiving and keep going until Christmas Eve! She was always happiest when she had someone to share these times with. I feel very fortunate to have had many baking sessions with her over the years. There is something to be said about learning by doing.
I am sharing this recipe for Fruitcake not because everyone loves Fruitcake, but because I think these types of cakes really get a bad wrap. Seriously, how can you go wrong with a recipe that calls for butter, sugar, eggs, and booze? And who is eating all these Fruitcakes? There is a claim from a bakery in Georgia that they make and sell over 4 million pounds of the cake every year!
Let’s begin with the equipment list:
Tube Cake pans with removable bottoms (1 large or 2 small)
Parchment paper and a Silicone Spatula
Wax Paper, Aluminum Foil, Cake Tins or Pastic Cake Containers
Long Wooden Skewers
Christmas Fruitcake (recipe courtesy of Marie Amato)
( I do try to use all Organic ingredients.)
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter (cut into small squares)
1 lb confectioners powdered sugar
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (not imitation)
1 tsp almond extract
4 cups unbleached flour (my go to favorite is King Arthur)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 lb glazed fruit (and additional glazed cherries and pineapples for decorations)
1 lb mixed raisins (Trader Joe’s has a medley that is perfect for this)
2 cups chopped walnuts
Brandy ( I like the taste of Apricot Brandy here) and/or Rum for infusing
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place a large pan on the lower rack and fill it with water. This will create steam in the oven while baking. Butter the insides of Tube Pan(s). Line the bottom of Tube Pan(s) with parchment paper, butter.
In the bowl of the stand mixer cream the butter until light pale in color. Gradually add sugar until fully incorporated. Add eggs one at a time and scrape down bowl to fully incorporate. Add vanilla and almond extracts.
Sift together the dry ingredients and slowly on low speed, add one large spoonful at a time to creamed butter, sugar and eggs. With a large mixing spoon or spatula blend in the fruit, raisins and nuts. Pour into parchment lined pan(s). This batter will be very stiff and thick. With a knife or spatula, smooth evenly around.
Decorate the top of the cake with nuts, glazed cherries and pineapple. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours in a regular oven, 2 to 2 1/2 hours in a convection oven. A wooden skewer inserted will come out clean. This cake bakes to a dark rich caramel color.
Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert the pans and slowly loosen the cakes from pan and tube. Allow to cool completely on rack.
Once the cakes have completely cooled, take long skewers and make a few holes through the top of the cake(s). Place on wax paper and drizzle with Brandy and/or Rum. Wrap the cake(s) with wax paper and then foil. Place in cake tins. Every other day unwrap the cake(s) and continue to drizzle with the Brandy and Rum. I usually make this cake right after Thanksgiving and continue to infuse it right up until a couple of days before Christmas.
Decorating the Tops of the Fruitcakes
This is a very rich and dense cake. The infusion of Brandy and Rum makes it a very heartwarming piece of Heaven when paired with a nice cup of coffee. My mother-in-law, Marie, would always say that the cake was ready when you got drunk off the smell of it! So, if you decide to give this a go, feel free to ask me any questions you may have. Truly, as recipes go, this one is not hard.
As we head straight into the Christmas Season, I wish you all Peace and Good Health. May there always be Light and Love. And a little piece of Fruitcake!