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People joke about holiday fruit cakes and I get that. But there are people who genuinely enjoy them, my father, my husband, and myself being three of them. I inherited my mother-in-law’s recipe box when she passed away on Good Friday 1991. I think I had actually started making these fruit cakes prior to that, but I really didn’t get into the swing of it, realizing that the brandy was key, until just a few years ago. In 2019 I made two batches and sent my dad a couple different loaves, soaked in brandy. Soaked. My husband and I took a loaf out of the freezer last month, and oh my, it was the best ever! So, here we go, this is what you do . . .

  • Ingredients
  • 3 oz. candied diced lemon peel
  • 3 oz. candied diced orange peel
  • 1/4 # candied chopped pineapple
  • 1/4 # candied diced citron
  • 1/2 # chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 # candied cherries, halved
  • 1/2 # raisins
  • 1/4 # rough chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 # rough chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup flour, for dredging
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 eggs, well beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup orange or grape juice
  • Apx. 3 cups brandy

In a very large bowl (mine is 32 cups), dredge fruit and nuts in 1/4 cup flour and set aside.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Prepare three 3-1/2 x 7-1/2″ loaf pans by spraying with non-stick spray and lining with parchment paper, allowing at least a 1/2″ overhang on all sides of pans. Heat 2 cups water to boiling in another pan.

In a separate bowl (I use a stand mixer) cream sugar and shortening. Add honey, then eggs, and beat well. Sift remaining dry ingredients and stir in alternately with fruit juice — beat thoroughly. Pour batter over floured fruit in the very large bowl and mix well.

Dollop the batter evenly into the pans, but do not flatten the batter down. Place pan with boiling water in the oven and also place loaves into oven. If you have the shelf space, put the boiling water pan on a rack beneath the loaves. Mine gets all crowded in there together on the same rack. No problem. The loaves do NOT go into the water. Bake at 250 degrees F for 3 to 4 hours.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Wrap each loaf in a cloth. Place the loaves into a shallow pan with sides (9 X 13″ Pyrex baking dish works great). Pour apx. 3 cups brandy (half of a 1.75 L bottle) evenly over the loaves in the baking pan, a bit at a time. Let sit, uncovered, for a couple days. Unwrap, slice and serve, or place into plastic freezer bags, cloth and all, and pop into the freezer. Thaw, unwrap, slice and serve. My, oh, my is that ever a rich dessert!

Yield: 3 Loaves