Yeah, yeah, The Big Day is Fruitcake Day. Remember that earlier post about a month ago about soaking some nice dried fruit in a bath of Myers Rum? Well, today is the day it meets destiny. Not quite "Fruitcake". There is just enough cake to hold the boozy fruit together so you can eat it. I like to bake them about two weeks to a month before I'll serve them as they mellow and the flavors meld with time. Tomorrow I'll drizzle a tiny bit of rum onto each rich morsel. So damn delicious. Maybe I should stop talking about them so I can keep them for myself.
The aroma is wonderful while they bake, like the way you imagine Mrs. Claus' kitchen smelling every day. No wonder Rudolph's nose is red.
This year I made them into cupcake sized treats, because,well, these are so heady, that's about all you really want or you'll need a breathalyzer. They took about 40 minutes baking time.
Yo, Ho, Ho, Fruitcake
4 cups mixed chopped dried fruit, in 1/3” to ½” pieces
(apples. cranberries, apricots, raisins, cherries, figs, dates, pears whatever is available and not dyed or sweetened)
Myers rum (no substitutes) See Note.
¼ cup honey
½ cup blackstrap molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 navel orange
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon,
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
½ teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Place chopped fruit in a deep bowl, or glass jar and cover by about ½” with Myers rum. Let set for at least 3 days; three weeks to a month is even better.
On baking day, drain fruit, and gently press out any excess rum. Save the remaining rum. Some will be used to anoint the finished cake(s); the rest can be used as you wish (I save it for the next year, topping it up with more Myers), or to soak more fruit. Leave fruit resting in a strainer while you prep the rest.
Preheat the oven to 300° F. Oil well or cooking spray either a 6-cup tube pan, loaf pan or two 3” x 5” loaf pans. Muffin pans work well too, just reduce the baking time to about 40 minutes, and you can use paper muffin liners.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl. Beat the eggs until well mixed, and then beat in the blackstrap molasses, the honey, vanilla and the orange zest.
Stir the drained fruit into the dry ingredients, and mix well, and then add the wet ingredients to the fruit mixture. Place in pans, filling about 7/8 of the way as this doesn’t rise too much.
Bake larger pans for about an hour, the small loaves about 50 minutes and the muffins about 40 minutes. Test doneness with a toothpick; the cake is very moist when done, but no batter streaks will stick to the toothpick. The top should be a bit cracked open.
Cool in pans for about 20 -30 minutes on a rack, remove from pan, then cool completely on the rack.
Store wrapped in an air-tight container. When cool, you can drizzle up to a tablespoon of the reserved rum-soaking liquid onto each full sized cake or about a half teaspoon onto muffins before wrapping. Age about a week or two before serving. NOT for kids.
Note: This recipe has evolved over the last 18 years, and I’ve tried just about every dark rum available in this recipe. The Myers works best; it seems to bake up smoother and mellower than any of the others. Not that this recipe is for those who don’t like rum.