1) Applesauce Fruitcake
Now, let's get to the cake. Keep in mind the fruits you select don't matter so long as you keep the measurements roughly the same. Sometimes I use currants, sometimes I substitute cranberries. Personally, I don't like tropical fruit (other than pineapple) in a Christmas cake, but if dried melon, mango, or papaya speak to you, then by all means feel free to add them. Likewise, use the spices you desire. Prefer mixed spice, or only cinnamon? Your cake-your rules! Don't let anyone dictate what you can do with your holiday baking.
You will need:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarb
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup brandy for soaking
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 pound raisins
1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup diced citron
1 cup chopped mixed peel (I used lemon and orange)
1 cup glaceed cherries
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
1 cup chopped figs
1 cup chopped dates
Day before: Soak fruit in a large bowl with brandy tossing occasionally). When ready to bake, drain and reserve the liquid. You will need 1/4 of a cup for the recipe, so make it up with water or more brandy if the fruit was very dry and absorbed it all.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and line one large, or two smaller springform pans (or really any pan you like-Bundt, Loaf, etc.) with parchment (if possible, otherwise grease generously and flour lightly). Do this first as it can be fiddly. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift together the dry ingredients removing 3 tablespoons to toss with the fruit. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternating with the remaining 1/4 cup of brandy. Stir in the applesauce, then the fruit. Pour into prepared pans. Place pan(s) on a baking sheet. Timing will depend on pan size and whether it is a tube or not. My two springform cakes took 1 hour and thirty minutes. You'll want to start testing at about an hour. The toothpick test works well here, as does lightly toughing the centre with your fingertips. If you're feeling brave, pull the tins out of the oven, and bend in close. If the cake makes a humming noise, it is done. Try to avoid burning your ears. Personally, I use a toothpick, but I'm accident prone!
Cool cakes in pan on a rack for 30 minutes before gently removing the sides. Let it sit another ten minutes before turning out onto a rack and removing the bottom piece and the parchment. Up-right the cake again onto a rack. If it feels at all fragile, let it cool completely on the bottom-the cake will be none the worse for it.
When cool, use a skewer to poke holes all over the top of the cake. Lightly brush the cake with more brandy. Wrap the cake tightly in cheesecloth and again, brush the cheesecloth generously with brandy. Wrap in grease proof paper, then tightly in foil. Place in an airtight tin, and let rest at least a month in a cool, dry place, I like to turn the cake in the tin once a week, but that's just me being my mother! I have no idea if it matters, but that's how I've always done it.
If you plant to store the cake for a long time, it might need additional brandy, so check it monthly.
You Will Need:
Two 5 1/2 cup ring moulds (I used 2 Bundt tins) generously greased and lightly floured
1 1/2 cup candied cherries, chopped
1 cup sultanas, chopped
1 cup candied pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup candied citron, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup chopped candied ginger
1/4 cup dates, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup candied orange peel, chopped
3 cups plain flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup brandy
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Grese and flour pans. Mix 1 cup of the flour with the fruits and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time. Combine brandy, corn syrup, and orange juice. Mix dry ingredients together and add, alternating with the liquid. Mix well. Fold in fruit. Divide into pans, and smooth tops. Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes (mine took an extra 15 minutes. Cool in pan, then remove. With a skewer, poke the cake in several places. Brush lightly with brandy. Cover with cheesecloth, then brush again. Wrap in wax paper, then foil. Store, tightly sealed in a cool place. In about two weeks, check it, adding more brandy (or alternating rum) if it looks dry.
3) Sourdough Fruitcake
We all knew I'd do something like this, correct?
I based this on a recipe in Breads and Cakes With Homemade Starters, by Ada Lou Roberts, 1967. Strangely, I own two copies of this oddball volume, but I've only recently remembered it. I think these were purchased prior to the tornado, and then lost in the clean-up. Anyway, here we are with a sourdough fruitcake.
I used the starter I already have thriving, not the buttermilk based one Ada Lou recommends. I think we can all trust a baker named, "Ada Lou." Or I can at least.
I also made some changes with the fruits, using my own candied apricots and dates in place of nuts, etc. I skipped the wine and went straight for brandy because I had it, and prefer it to wine. As with the fruits, you can substitute pretty freely with fruitcake recipes, just keep the measures equal. I really like the way these turned out.
You Will Need:
1 1/2 cups raisins (sultanas, red flame, etc.)
1 1/2 cups dried currants
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons blackberry cordial (remember, this was published in the 60's when that shit was popular) or other wine
1 cup fed sourdough starter
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
4 cups AP flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon mace (I adore mace, I'm glad she includes this overlooked spice)
3 cups candied fruit (cherries, pineapple, peels, candied ginger, etc.)
1 cup or more chopped nuts (I used candied dates, but some people swear by unsweetened coconut as a nut replacement)
Soak raisins and currants in wine overnight. Feed starter overnight. In the morning, drain the fruit, reserving the liquid. Grease 3 standard loaf pans, or two larger ones (or six mini-whatever). Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. With a large pan of water set on the bottom shelf.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light. Beat in eggs and lemon rind. Pour wine drained from raisins into mixture. Stir in starter and 3 cups of the flour sifted with the spices, and baking soda. Sprinkle remaining flour over the fruits and stir into mixture. Turn into loaf pans and let rise 30 minutes in a warm spot. Bake about 2 1/2 hours for standard loaf pans, checking for doneness at about 2 hours. Remove to rack, and cool on their sides, in pan for 10 minutes. Remove, and cool completely on rack. When cool, brush with wine and then wrap tightly and store before using.