World’s Best Fruit Cake
Servings: 2 8×4 loaves
Soaked Fruit Mixture
- 1¼ cups Dark Raisins
- 1¼ cups Golden Raisins
- 2 cups mixed unsweetened dried fruit Chopped (equal parts peaches and apricots – pears or apples are other great options)
- 1 cup dried unsweetened black figs chopped
- 1 cup dried unsweetened tart cherries chopped
- ¾ cup dried unsweetened prunes chopped
- ¾ cup Dark Rum
Fruit Cake Ingredients
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar packed
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- 1 Tbs freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 Tbs freshly grated orange zest
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 Granny Smith apple peeled & coarsely grated
- ¾ cup slivered almonds or pecans or walnuts
- 3 Tbs finely diced crystallized ginger
- 1 batch soaked fruit mixture see above
- ⅔ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or dark chocolate chips optional
- medium sherry or triple sec
- 2 large pieces of unbleached cheesecloth for wrapping
- ¼ cup apricot preserves
- ¼ cup water
- whole pecans for garnishing
- The Day Before Baking: Combine the dried fruit in a large mixing bowl. Add the dark rum, cover, and allow the mixture to soak at room temperature for a minimum of 12 hours, or ideally 24 hours prior to preparing the fruit cake batter.
- Prepare the Fruitcake: Preheat the oven to 300F (150C) with a rack in the center position. Set aside two 8×4-inch loaf pan. If using these pans, you do not need to line or grease the pans prior to adding the batter. Equipment Note: This fruitcake can also be prepared using 9×5-inch loaf pans. If using other types of pans, lightly grease and line with parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar.
- Reduce speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating just until each egg is incorporated. The mixture will look slightly broken, that’s ok.
- Over low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until just absorbed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Add the lemon zest, orange zest, fresh orange juice, grated apple, slivered almonds, diced candied ginger, soaked dried fruit mixture (with any liquid if it hasn’t already been absorbed), and chocoate (if using). Stir mixture with a large spatula, scraping the edges and bottom of the bowl several times, until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. It is a very thick, fruit heavy mixture.
- Transfer and divide the batter evenly among the loaf pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth the batter into an even layer. Set the loaf pans on the center rack, several inches apart from one another. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway, or until the cakes have set. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely before removing from the pans.
- Storing and Aging: Once the cake has cooled, carefully remove the cakes from the loaf pans and set upright. Soak two large pieces of cheesecloth in medium sherry or triple sec (*they should be lightly damp, not soaking wet when you wrap the cakes, so you may need to squeeze out any excess liquor). Wrap each cake tightly. Cover loafs with wax paper and foil before transferring to a large Ziploc bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 to 8 weeks. You can serve this cake right after it has cooled, but the flavors improve greatly with time (a few days or up to a week, at the least, is my recommendation). Unwrap and re-soak the cheesecloth once a week.
- For Garnishing: If desired, you can top the fruitcake with a light apricot glaze and whole pecans before serving. Note: This is not recommended if you’re planning to continue to wrap and age the fruitcake. Combine the apricot preserves and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a light simmer, stirring until the glaze is shiny and thin. If it is too thin for glazing, reduce to desired consistency. If it becomes too thick, add a teaspoon of water. Brush the tops of the fruitcakes with apricot glaze and garnish with whole pecans.
- Serving Notes: Slice fruit cake with a serrated knife. Serve on its own or spread with a small amount of salted butter.
Spiced Rum Fruitcake
For the fruit
- 3/4 cup dark rum
- 4 oz dried apricots 3/4 cup lightly packed, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 oz dried apples 1 cup lightly packed, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 oz currants or dark raisins 3/4 cup lightly packed
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
For the batter
- 5 oz unsalted butter 10 Tbs., softened; more for the pan
- 5 oz unbleached all-purpose flour 1 cup plus 1 Tbs.
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar preferably muscovado
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 3-1/2 oz crystallized ginger 1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Dark rum as needed for brushing
Soak the fruit
- Put the rum, dried fruit, and orange zest in 2-quart saucepan, cover, and warm over medium heat until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 3 days. Before making the cake, bring the fruit to room temperature and drain, reserving any liquid for basting. (If the fruit was very dry, it may have absorbed all the liquid.)
Make the cake
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°Butter an 8-1/2×4-1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Line the pan with two strips of parchment in opposite directions, leaving an overhang for easy removal of the cake.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer), beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy and no lumps of brown sugar remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and mixing for 30 to 60 seconds after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Add 2 Tbs. of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat briefly. Reserve 2 Tbs. of the flour mixture and add the rest to the batter; beat on low speed for 10 seconds to incorporate the flour and then on medium-high for 1 minute.
- Combine the crystallized ginger with the drained fruit. Scrape the batter into the center of the bowl. Put the marinated fruit on top of the batter and then sprinkle the reserved flour evenly over the fruit. Using a rubber spatula, fold the fruit into the batter until it’s evenly distributed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, pressing it in to eliminate air pockets and smoothing the top to make it level. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 300°F and bake until the center of the cake has risen slightly and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, about 1-1/2 hours.
- Remove the cake and let it cool in its pan on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. Use the parchment overhang to lift the cake from the pan. Place it on the rack, peel down the parchment sides, and cool completely. When cool, brush the cake with 2 to 3 Tbs. of the reserved fruit-soaking liquid or fresh rum. Wrap tightly in plastic and then in foil; store the cake at room temperature for a minimum of 48 hours before serving.
If serving within a week of baking, you do not need to baste the cake again. For longer storage, baste once a week with 1 to 2 tablespoons of rum and wrap in fresh plastic and foil. The cake will keep at room temperature for at least 3 weeks.