Friday, December 30, 2011

The Best Fruitcake Ever

Pretty much everyone that tries my fruitcake agrees that it blows their preconceptions about fruitcake away. It is nothing like the stereotype. My friends once renamed it boozy trail mix cake because, honestly, that's a much better description of it. It's extremely customizable as well. Change up the fruit, nuts, and alcohol to suit your tastes. My mom even prefers the cake without the alcohol, so that's another option. The key to success with this cake is picking high quality ingredients. Buy good dried fruit, natural and not overly sweet. Use an alcohol you enjoy drinking.

Best Fruitcake, aka Boozy Trail Mix cake
(adapted from Holiday Baking by Sara Perry)

5 cups of dried fruit such as:
   1 1/2 cups cranberries
   1 1/2 cups apple rings, chopped
   1 cup tart cherries
   1 cup raisins
1/2 cup spiced rum, plus more for soaking (buy a whole bottle)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 3/4 cups nuts, roughly chopped or halves such as:
   1 1/4 cups each almonds, walnuts & pecans
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup applesauce
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar

5 mini loaf pans, 3x6 inches

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease the mini loaf pans and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dried fruit and the rum. Stir to coat and set aside.
3. In another very large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves until well blended. Stir in the nuts, then stir in the fruit-rum mixture.
4. In a medium bowl (or a stand mixer), whisk the eggs until frothy. Whisk in the applesauce, butter, and molasses. Add brown sugar and mix until smooth.
5. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until all the fruit and nuts are coated with batter.
6. Fill the prepared pans to about 3/4 full.
7. Bake for 1 hour or until the sides begin to pull away from the edge of the pan & a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
8. When cakes are completely cooled, take out of the pans. Cut cheesecloth to 5 pieces - lengths that will wrap around a cake about twice. Put the cloth into a bowl and pour in enough rum to thoroughly soak all the pieces. Wrap each cooled cake completely with a piece of cloth, then tightly wrap with foil. Put all wrapped cakes into airtight containers and set aside into a cool or room temperature dark place for at least a week.

The cakes will keep several weeks at room temperature. You can rewrap the cakes periodically with fresh rum-soaked cheesecloth to keep them moist if you'd like. If you want to keep the cakes longer, they freeze very well.

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