Everybody has things they love and hate about the holidays. I’m no exception.
Things I hate about Christmas: egg nog, Christmas music on endless repeat at my workplace, and raisins in fruit cake.
I hate, hate, hate raisins with an unbridled, neurotic hostility.
But I love fruit cake. Well, more accurately, I love to look at fruit cake. It’s so pretty and it smells so good.
I won’t eat it because it has raisins in it, and raisins are evil! They’re gross. They’re creepy. They’re downright dangerous.
They cause car accidents and try to kill people. True story.
And the worst thing about raisins is that they’re not just for Christmas — raisins are a plague on baked goods all year ’round!
Well, I’m putting a stop to it.
No more raisins! I’m making a fruit cake in a state of raisin-free liberation. Dried apricots, cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, black currants, blueberries — it’s going to be amazing.
Now, this fruit cake is an extreme exercise in delay of gratification.
Not only does it take hours to make (set aside at least 5 hours or so to do this), but you have to age this cake for the ultimate result — baking it at least two weeks before you plan to serve it.
Homemade fruit cake, soaked in brandy, and not a raisin in sight?
Youse better believe this gunna be worth it!
Fruit Cake, without Raisins
*adapted from The Joy of Baking
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons brandy (and more for later)
- 1 medium orange, zest & juice
- 1 small lemon, zest & juice
- 1/4 cup dried strawberries, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup dried blueberries
- 1 cup dried black currants
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
- 3/4 cup candied orange peel
- 1 cup maraschino cherries
- 1 cup almond meal (finely ground almonds)
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325°F (or 160°C).
Line an 8 inch spring form pan with buttered parchment paper: line the bottom with one piece, line the side with another piece that is 2 inches taller than the rim of the pan.
If some of your dried fruit, like the apricots, are bigger than bite-sized pieces, chop them up.
Mix together all the candied peel, maraschino cherries, dried fruits, berries, and nuts in a bowl. Toss them in the almond meal.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg.
Stir in the brandy, orange juice, lemon juice, and zest.
Gently mix the flour mixture into the wet batter. Mix until just incorporated, and then fold in the fruit and nuts tossed in almond meal.
Spoon the batter into the prepared spring form pan until full to just under the rim. Smooth out the top of the batter.
Place the filled pan on top of a baking sheet.
Bake at 325°F (or 160°C) for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, turn the heat down to 300°F (or 150°C) and bake for another 2 hours.
Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool for at least 40 minutes or so before removing it from the pan.
Once cool, poke holes in the cake with a long, thin skewer. Brush with brandy and wrap tightly in plastic, then in tin foil, and store in a cool, out of the way place.
Remove the cake every 3 to 4 days and brush again with brandy.
The longer the cake is aged, the better its flavour will develop! Age the cake for 3 to 6 weeks for best results.
Lucky me, I had a enough batter left over for a mini fruit cake! I leveled the bottom to take a peek inside, and now I’m aging it, too.
I plan on decorating the top of my big fruit cake with marzipan and posting an update on how its flavour turns out.
But dang — if the flavour is even half as good as the way the cake looks and smells (I brushed it with brandy again today and the scent is unbelievable), then I’ll be totally satisfied with myself!
Down with raisins! Up with fruit cake! Yum!
Weeks and weeks later, and the fruit cake has turned out beautifully! It’s dark and dense and luscious and the brandy flavour is really strong.
I’ll definitely make this again next Christmas.
But, for those of you who don’t have the time for an aged cake, here’s another recipe for a quick fruit cake!
Well, it’s been a whole year and I still hate raisins. For those of you who wanna get out of the British fruitcake runt, you can try this raisin-free Christmas stöllen recipe!