My fruitcake method
I say my method, because my recipe varies. And though I've been making it for more than ten years, I never seem to make note of helpful little details like, say, how long to bake it or how many it makes, partly because I always make a variety of sizes. I've hesitated to share this then, but I've decided to anyway because if you don't mind a little trial and error, it really makes a delicious fruitcake. People who do not normally eat fruitcake love mine. So, without further ado, the method.
- Start with a banana bread recipe. I started using the recipe from the twelth addition of Fanny Farmer, I switched a few years ago to the Better homes and Gardens recipe, and I'm experimenting with a gluten-free version. All have been good. Once all the ingredients are in, no one can tell that the base is banana bread. It just gives a moist, pleasant background for all the tasty add-ins. I also add a teaspoon or two of vanilla, which I think mellows it even more. Sometimes I replace some of the banana with applesauce or apple butter.
- Use lots and lots of dried fruit. For a recipe that would make a 9x5 loaf of banana bread, add 5 or 6 cups of dried fruit. There should be about as much fruit as there is batter. Use a mix of darker mellow fruits( like dates, figs, raisins) and tangier fruits( like cranberries, tart cherries, gold raisins). I typically do not use candied fruits- most of them have dyes and artificial nasties, and they just taste weird and medicinal. Last year I did include some Amarena cherries that I got from Aldi- the ingredients seemed relatively real food, and they tasted very nice. I won't use maraschino cherries.
- You can replace 1 or 2 cups of dried fruit with chopped nuts. Walnuts or pecans are the best, in my opinion.
- Add one very well-drained can of crushed pineapple in juice, reserving the juice.
- Make homemade candied peel. This will make a world of difference. Really, it can make or break the recipe. I use the recipe from my Fanny Farmer cookbook, but this seem similar.https://www.daringgourmet.com/how-to-make-candied-orange-and-lemon-peel/. Use 1/2 to 1 cup.
- This will make quite a few small fruitcakes, plus a loaf pan. I mostly make mini loafs; they are just the right size for giving as gifts. When I bake in a full size loaf pan, I only fill half full. Otherwise I think it would not bake through before the top burnt. Even as it is, sometimes I get burnt raisins on top(only the raisins). I just pull them off, sometimes sticking in other fruit.
- As soon as you take them out of the oven, brush them with the pineapple juice. It will sizzle and form a kind of glaze on top- gives a nice shine. Just don't over do it.
- Keep them in the refrigerator, and use within a week. This does not contain alcohol, so it will not keep much longer than any other cake. It does freeze beautifully, however.
I did actually think to(partially) write down what a I did last year so here it goes,
3 bananas(1 ½ c. smashed)
¼ c. apple butter
¾ c. chopped candied orange peel
¾ c. amarena cherries( candied black cherries)
1 can very well drained crushed pineapple (1 c. pineapple)
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 ½ sticks of butter, melted
1 c. sugar (sucanat mostly, some white)
3 c. flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
¾ tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Salt
9 c. dried mixed fruit ( raisins, cranberries, figs, dates)
Mix like banana bread, fold in dried and candied fruit. I don't see nuts on the list but I probably added a cup. Bake at 350 until done- firm and browned on top. Brush with pineapple juice.
The above is a batch-and-a-half. You might notice that less pineapple is listed proportionately than in my method. I assume I did that because I was adding the amarena cherries.
I know, such precise directions. Maybe America's Test Kitchen will hire me.