Food

‘Tis the Season for Fruitcake

Finished cake isn't beautiful, but it will be yummy.
Finished cake isn’t beautiful, but it will be yummy.

So this is a recipe for fruitcake. Only it isn’t what you’re thinking of. This is my Dorothy-Mom’s recipe which was handed down to her, and which I believe has it’s origins in a time when fruit and sugar were scarce. The resulting cake is sweet, so sweet, dense, rich, chewy, and absolutely does not need any sort of icing, although my First Reader assures me that the original recipe called for it. After making this last one, I mused that it would do very well infused with rum or brandy like fruitcakes once were…

And why was that? Well, it was for storage. We modern folks are completely unspoiled. I mean that literally. We have a consistently cold refrigerator to keep foodstuffs in at a chill which deters most bacterial growth (note that it does not kill, only delays. And Listeria likes it cold, but I digress). We have reliable canning. We have freezers. For heaven’s sake we have irradiation which is a miracle of modern technology that doesn’t see widespread use with a connected saving of lives and billions of lost dollars in man-hours of work because some people are ignorant luddites.

Where was I? Oh, yes, fruitcake. Nuttier than…

Fruitcake were soaked in alcohol because they are rich, sweet, and bacteria-friendly. The alcohol slowed this down somewhat. Look. Candy, chocolate, all the sweet things we adore and consume by the ton are very modern creations. Sugar was expensive once upon a time for very good reasons I’m not going to get into right now – that’s another blog post. Which I will do soon, I promise. I do love food history, as you know.

This is a fruitcake by another name, and I have made a few modifications to the original recipe.

Jam Cake Batter: most unbeautiful. Those are chopped prunes you see lurking.
Jam Cake Batter: most unbeautiful. Those are chopped prunes you see lurking.

Jamcake

Dorothy Wilson

  •  1 cup soft butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups jam (seedless)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts

Dredge nuts and raisins in 1/2 cup of the flour, return flour to the main supply. Cream butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time. Add all dry ingredients except nuts and raisins, mix well, add buttermilk, mix. Add nuts and raisins. Pour into a greased tubular cake pan and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours at 325F check for doneness with toothpick.

Cedar’s modifications:

whole spices
Cloves and Allspice

I have made this the last couple of times with prunes, because for some reason we had a lot of them. I dredge them in flour, then chop until they are about the size of raisins. I have been using one cup of nut meal rather than whole nuts. This last recipe I used whole spices that were ground just before adding to the batter and Wow! that adds a flavor punch. For jam, we have used strawberry, and this last batch was mulberry-blackberry jam I’d made earlier this year.  If you haven’t got buttermilk, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to your fresh milk.

The cake took 2 hours to bake last time I did it, and at least 90 minutes the time before that. This is not a cake you will make often, it is… heavy, moist, flavorful, and filling, which isn’t a word you’ll hear often about cake. It’s perfect for fueling up before going out to play in the snow.

(Don’t forget! Farmhand is on sale for only a dollar, and so is Pixie Noir! Perfect for gifting.)

Slice of Jamcake: so very dense and fruity.
Slice of Jamcake: so very dense and fruity.

0 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season for Fruitcake

  1. Oh MY. That looks soooo yum, and fruitcake isn’t meant to look ‘pretty’, it’s meant to last and be delicious! And yes, I’d love to see the post on food history you’re planning.

    Did you see the recipe for hot chocolate I posted? I keep wishing it was cold enough to enjoy over here. It is the yummyness.

  2. What exactly does it mean to dredge them in the flour? I’ve done a fair bit of baking in my time, but never had a recipe that said to “dredge” anything (Never made any kind of fruitcake, either, however). Think it would taste good with pecans instead of walnuts (I have pecans right now)?

    1. I think it would work with any nuts, or a mix. Dredging is something you are more likely to see in a frying application “dredge in Flour after dipping in egg mixture” that sort of thing. In this recipe it means coating the dried fruit with flour, cuts down on it being sticky and clumping. For chopping the prunes it’s great.

  3. Can I have permission to use this in the cookbooks? I lobe a good FRUITcake, but not fruitNUTcake. (I.e. most “commercial” FC cr-p.) This sounds like one I made about 36+ years ago that was fantastic.

  4. Heck, this is simplicity itself, compared to one of my favorite recipes for Caribbean fruitcake – AKA DWI Fruitcake

    (This was a recipe from the Caribbean for a different sort of Christmas fruitcake, for those who didn’t like chewing on lumps of fossilized glace fruit, which was published (re-published?) in the European edition of the Stars & Stripes sometime in the mid-1980ies. I copied it out into my personal recipe book, but did not keep or recall any information on its source. A very dear friend of mine loved the resulting cake very much, and kept several wedges in her deep freeze, where it remained soft and un-frozen, due to the incredibly high alcohol content.)

    Moisten with a little rum from a 1-quart bottle of same;
    1 lb dark raisins
    1 lb dried currents
    1 lb pitted prunes
    1 lb glace cherries
    Put the rum-flavored fruit through a meat-grinder, equipped with a medium blade, and combine with remainder of the quart of rum in a glass jar or other sealable container, and allow to steep for at least two weeks or up to one year.

    Cream together:
    1 lb butter
    1 lb brown sugar
    1 lb eggs (about a dozen)
    The ground and steeped fruit.

    Combine in another bowl, and stir into the butter/sugar mixture

    1 lb flour
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    ½ tsp nutmeg

    Add 3 oz burnt sugar (melt sugar until deeply caramelized, or nearly black, and dissolve with an equal amount of water to make a dark, thin syrup)

    Grease and flour 2 10-in spring form pans, divide the batter half into each, and bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for two hours, or until cake-tester comes out clean. You may need to cover the cakes with tinfoil to prevent burning. Remove cakes, and allow to cool. Poor ½ of a 1-quart bottle of tawny port over each cake, and allow to absorb. (You may need to take a bamboo skewer and pierce cakes about an inch apart all over to facilitate absorbing of the port.) When absorbed, pour on remainder of port onto each cake, wrap tightly in plastic (not tinfoil!) and allow to age at room temperature for at least a week or longer. To let the flavor develop, you know. The resulting cake is very heavy, and dense, rather like gingerbread, and might be considered a sort of “pound” cake, since it calls for a pound of just about everything but the spices. Drive at your own risk, after consuming a slice or two.

    1. Okay, after reading that recipe, my mouth is watering. This is something I’ll have to save up for, since liquor is rather pricey in my end of the world (which makes me sigh, as I regularly used to bake using rum, brandy or whiskey in my chocolate cupcakes and cakes. Typically, I used Tanduay Rum. I’m afraid since I’m not a drinker of rum or whiskey, I cannot comment on the qualities of the liquors in question, but I do like the flavor in baking.)

    2. There was a dense, dense DENSE fruitcake my mother and I loved while we lived in Paris; it was basically NOTHING but raisins, currants, dried cherries and glace cherries, in a dense pound cake that had been soaked in liquor. We used to buy it from Marks and Spencer, and would keep one soaking in liquor, occasionally taking it out, cutting a thin slice, and sharing. This sounds VERY similar and I hope you don’t mind if I send the recipe to my mom.

  5. Jonathan’s working on this now. When do you put in the jam? He’s assuming since it’s listed between the buttermilk and the fruit & nuts, that’s about when you should mix it in.

  6. Does sound tempting, and I still have dozens and dozens of jars of home-made blackberry jam. But I’m trying to lose weight over the Christmas break, and I’d have to eat the whole thing myself (the cats are no help in that regard).

    I’ll have to settle for bookmarking this.

  7. Oh yeah, and I was going to say, I’m totally with you on Irradiation. Imagine no more salmonella in pre-shredded lettuce, or e. coli in ground beef. And the only reason we still have these problems is a bunch of people who learned everything they need to know about radiation from ’50’s monster movies.

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