Fruit Cake. Two words that have been known to strike fear into the hearts of men. Even convincing my co-workers to TRY it was met with resistance. “I don’t really like fruit cake” and “fruitcake has always sounded disgusting to me” were just a couple of the comments. I’m convincing, though! I say “But, you haven;t tried my great grandmother’s fruit cake recipe!” and reluctantly, they try it. Each time, I was met with shock when they realize that fruit cake can, in fact, be delicious! My Grandma Pat sent her recipe into the local paper as a contest submission and she won! As a result, she and my Great Grandma Olga were featured along with the recipe. My grandma said that the reason this fruitcake is so good, is because they candied their own fruit and because of “the paste” that they make. The paste seemed to be more of syrup to me, but it was definitely a step that I had never before tried in baking!
Holiday baking is a big deal in my family! It’s hundreds of loaves of holiday bread and pound upon pound of confections. Everything from fudge to candied walnuts. Our friends expect us to deliver the goods! It’s a tradition that I miss dearly living so far away. Baking this and any holiday baking, for that matter, is massively nostalgic for me. As a self-proclaimed “cryer”, the baking coupled with the Christmas music, I may have shed a tear or two in the process… I mean, “Merry Christmas Darling” could melt even the coldest of hearts.
This is my mom, Aunt Pennie and Grandma Pat the last time they baked before my Grandma passed. This picture is EVERYTHING. The joy on their faces is real… The only thing missing is me. Sigh.
You will need the following:
- 1 1/2 cups raisins (I mixed regular and golden)
- 1 1/2 cups dates, cut up small
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 Tbsp shortening
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 heaping tsp cinnamon
- 1 heaping tsp cloves
- 1 cup chopped nuts
- 1 cup mixed candied fruits (I used red candied cherries and candied orange peel. I couldn’t get down with the green cherries, but you do you)
- In a large, heavy bottomed pan, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add in the raisins, dates, sugar and shortening. Bring back up to a boil and turn down heat to low. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Coating the candied fruit with the flour and spice mixture will help then disperse evenly throughout the cake.
- After the paste/syrup is done boiling, allow it to cool for about an hour.
- Mix the paste/syrup and the flour mixture together. I don’t recommend using a stand mixer for this. Mix it by hand to avoid over mixing. The batter will be extremely thick and light brown in color.
- Divide evenly into four miniature loaf pans (4×3) or one large loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pans with brown paper or parchment paper. Pat the top of the batter lightly with oiled fingers and add fruit and nuts to the top as desired. You can make a pattern or do like I did and just pile them on!
- Bake in a 225 degree oven for 3 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
This fruit cake is so deliciously rich that you can serve it with freshly brewed black coffee just like my gramma said and be ready for any pop in holiday guests. Swearing Mom out.