Who Are You Calling a Fruitcake?
Not Your Granny’s (Or My Mom’s) Fruitcake
In mid-October, I appeared on Kitchen Creations to make another Betty Shimabukuro recipe. This time, it was for her popular “spice cake,” a.k.a. that most dreaded and ridiculed holiday pastry of all–fruitcake. In her article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, she jokes how she brought the fruitcake to work, called it a spice cake, and watched it disappear. Since the holidays are right around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to revisit this TV segment, and set the record straight about fruitcake.
Now, I don’t have the normal aversion to this pastry that some people seem to have, in large part because my mom used to traditionally make it for the holiday season–like I mention in the video, giving out fruitcake was the 70’s housewife thing to do. Betty’s recipe calls for brandy, and you can substitute whiskey for this, but all the alcohol will cook out. The brandy is to add flavor, but will also help the cake to rise, because alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature, which makes it volatile (not a word you might normally associate with fruitcake).
For Betty’s recipe, the result is a pretty light cake with a crispy crust. It’s fluffy, because besides the baking soda (not powder!) and the alcohol, there’s not a lot of leavening agents. What you get is almost a meringue topping. It’s also baked at 275 degrees for 2 hours, which makes it moist and light.
You can check out the video segment below, and also see the full recipe. Maybe you too can fool your friends and family into loving fruitcake, and rescue it from holiday pastry purgatory.
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup white sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons brandy (or other liquor such as whiskey)
- 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1-1/2 cups golden raisins
- 2 cups diced mixed candied fruits (or the same amount of dried fruit)
- – Heat oven to 275 degrees. Grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans, then line pans with baking parchment and grease the paper. (Or use eight 5-by-3-inch pans.)
- – Combine flour, salt and spices.
- – In a mixing bowl cream butter with sugars until fluffy. Add eggs, beating well after each addition. Blend in sour cream. Dissolve baking soda in brandy and add. Gradually beat in flour mixture until smooth. Fold in nuts, raisins and candied fruits.
- – Divide batter among baking pans. Bake 2 hours (1 hour, 45 minutes for small pans) or until cakes are golden and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let stand 20 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
- For extra “seasoning”: Soak clean cloth in brandy (or another liquor). Wrap cakes in cloth, then cover with foil. Refrigerate at least 1 month. To give as gifts, remove cloth and wrap in fresh foil.