Fruitcakes are a staple of the holiday season and a beloved holiday treat, to those who love them. It is a preconceived notion that fruitcakes are awful and i can say it can be nasty, packed with chopped candied fruits and/or dried fruits, nuts, and spices, and drowned in spirits.
You can never be too rich with money but with fruitcakes, it is a different story - too rich is horribly sweet. I would shy away from eating a commercial fruitcake and pray that i would not get one for Christmas but i would bake my version year after year cos i have tweaked it to my liking - no candied citron but use the zests of oranges and lemon. I used confectioners' sugar/powdered sugar cos it is less sweet and the cornstarch present gives the cake a finer texture.
1/4 cup Brandy or Rum
1 cup raisins
1 cup pitted dates - chopped
1 cup cashews - chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
8 ozs/2 sticks unsalted butter - room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar/powdered sugar
3 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest from 1 big orange and 1 lemon
Grease and line 2 loaf pans or 4 tiny loaf pans
Put brandy, raisins and dates in a saucepan and cook until the brandy is soaked up by the fruits. Add the cashews and let it cool.
Sieve flour, baking powder, spices and salt together.
Prepare Caramel sauce by putting 6 tbsp granulated sugar, 3 tbsp water and 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice in a heavy saucepan. Stir to combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and do not stir, cook until sugar turns golden, turn off heat and pour in 1/2 cup of boiling hot water. Do be careful, it will splatter. Let Caramel cool.
Cream room temperature butter until light, reduce speed to low and add in 2 cups of confectioners; sugar, a little at a time, turn back to speed 2 and continue to cream until light and fluffy.
Add in the egg yolks, one at a time , cream well before adding the next one.
Using a microplane, zest the orange and lemon (you might have to use 2 oranges or 2 lemons if you are using an ordinary grater cos the microplane grates more zest) and add into the butter mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and cream well to combine.
Add in the caramel sauce and cream well
Reduce the speed to low and add in the sieved flour in 3 portions. Mix well.
Remove from stand mixer and add in all the fruits and nuts. Stir to combine the fruits and nuts to the mixture.
Whisk egg whites until foamy before adding in the 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar and beat until soft peak. When whisk is lifted from bowl, whites form droopy, moist-looking, but definite peaks.
Stir in 1/3 of the beatened egg whites and mix in thoroughly, then fold in the rest of the egg whites.
Divide batter evenly amougst the prepared loaf pans and put to bake in 325 f preheated oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.
Remove from oven and leave to rest on a cake rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing the greaseproof paper. Leave the cakes to cool completely before wrapping in cling wrap.
Fruitcakes are ready to be enjoyed with a cup of hot tea or coffee or packed into a festive fashion to be given away.