Fruitcake shows up every year at Christmas, though it isn’t everyone’s favourite holiday treat. Mass-produced fruitcakes created the classic image of a dry, leaden cake that drove a nail into the coffin in the early 20th century and fruitcake fell from grace.
The history of fruitcake goes way back to ancient Rome. A 2000 year-old recipe proves that the ancient Romans already made a mishmash of barley, pomegranate seeds, nuts and raisins.
The modern fruitcake can be traced back to the Middle Ages when dried fruits became more widely available and fruited breads entered Western European cuisine. The tradition of making fruitcakes for special occasions gained in popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries and due to the cost of the materials, it was a grand indulgence.
Homemade stuff can’t be compared to store-bought products, that’s why it’s worth making your own fruitcake instead of buying a pig in a poke. There are thousands of fruitcake recipes in the cyberspace, so you may need to employ the method of trial and error before you find one that pleases your palate.
The following recipe isn’t a classic fruitcake, as it doesn’t contain nuts and spices, but it’s soft, light, and delicious, and it’s loaded with an assortment of dried fruits and chopped dark chocolate. If you give it a try, you may end up getting a positive fruitcake experience.
- 300 g (~2 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 300 g (~1 1/3 cups) butter, softened
- 8 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 eggs
- zest of a lemon
- 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) raisins
- 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) dried fruits (prune, apricot, cherry, cranberry, etc.)
- 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) semi-sweet dark chocolate
This recipe makes enough batter for a 24 cm / 9″ bundt cake pan or for 2 standard ribbed loaf pans.
Chop bigger fruits. Soak raisins and dried fruits in lukewarm water or rum for 1-2 hours.
Grease and flour your chosen pan(s). Drain the fruits. Chop the chocolate.
In a smaller bowl combine flour and baking powder.
Separate the eggs, and beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Set aside.
In a separate bowl cream butter, sugar and lemon zest. Mix in the egg yolks – one at a time – and beat until the mixture becomes fluffy. With a wooden spatula gently fold in the egg whites, then add raisins, fruits and chopped chocolate and mix together to distribute the fruits and chocolate evenly. Finally add the flour to the batter and mix well.
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan(s) and press down to even the surface. Place it in an oven preheated to 180°C / 356°F. Baking time depends on the pan you use: 50-60 minutes in a bundt pan, 40-45 minutes in a ribbed loaf pan, or until a tester comes out clean. Turn out the cake onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.