Fruitcakes have been the object of much defamation and in some cases, deservedly so. I have tried to eat some cakes that have been purchased from a mail order house and did not get past the first bite. The little town of Manitou, just up the hill from us, has a fruit cake toss every year with the misbegotten cakes. They use catapults to hurl them as far as possible! I think that after the toss, those cakes that survive intact could be used to plug potholes in the street. To be fair, I must admit that I have eaten some factory made fruitcakes that were very tasty but I prefer the ones that are home made.
Those cakes that are genuinely bad are so because they are hard, dry and bitter. The bitter taste comes from the candied citrus peel. The peel is naturally bitter plus all the chemicals that are used to process it makes it worse. The peel has snuck into our recipes as a substitute for fruit, but in our 21st century grocery stores we have fruit in the winter time!
The mail order cakes are dry because they must be dry in order to have a profitable shelf life. And because they are dry, they are hard.
This recipe has no citrus peel and has plenty of moisture. The moisture comes from the fresh pears as well as from the syrup that is brushed on the cake. If you do not like my particular combination of fruit – substitute any dried fruit that you like.
This recipe will fill two loaf pans or one tube (angel food) pan or you could fill any number of ramekins or small baking pans. The small ones make nice gifts.
You will need:
3 1/3 cups of AP Flour 1 cup Orange Juice
1 c. of White Granulated Sugar 1 cup Canola Oil
1 cup of Brown Sugar 4 Eggs
1 tsp. Salt ½ cup of Molasses
1 ½ tsp. of Baking Powder 1 cup Candied Red Cherries
3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon 1 cup Candied Green Cherries
2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg 1 cup Candied or Dried Pineapple
1 tsp. Ground Cloves 1 cup Chopped Dates
2 Fresh Pears 1 cup Chopped Walnuts
1 cup Chopped Pecans 1 cup Dried Sweetened Cranberries
- Line the bottom of your pans. To do so, cut parchment paper or waxed paper or brown paper to fit the bottom of your pans.
- Grease the bottom and sides of your pans with shortening, and then lay the paper cut outs in the bottom of your pans. Grease the paper with shortening.
- Dust sides and bottoms of your pans with flour.
- Peel and core the two pears, then chop them into small pieces.
- Place a shallow pan (cake pans work well) of water on the top shelf of your oven. This makes a moist environment for the cake so that it does not lose too much moisture while baking. It also helps the cakes have a shiny top.
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
- Pour the dry ingredients (the first 8) into a large mixing bowl and stir together. An electric mixer is not necessary or desirable with this recipe.
- Add the wet (orange juice, oil, eggs and molasses) ingredients to the bowl and mix.
- Add all the fruits and nuts to the bowl and stir well. This will be work, so you might warm up by doing a few pushups before you start mixing!
- Bake the loaf pans about 2 hours then check for doneness with a tooth pick or thin knife or skewer. Insert your test instrument into the center of the cake. If only crumbs adhere to your knife, the cake is done. If wet cake batter is on your tool, continue to cook. Check for doneness every 15 minutes and clean your checking tool after each use.
- Tube pans will require more time and small pans will require less.
- Cool the cake or cakes on wire racks.
For the Syrup:
- While the cakes are cooling, mix the syrup for brushing on the cake.
- Mix together 1/3 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup of Cognac or Grand Marnier and 1/3 cup of white corn syrup.
- When the cakes are cool enough to handle, run a thin knife around the sides of the pans and invert them.
- Remove the paper bottoms.
- With a pastry brush, brush all sides, tops and bottoms until all of the syrup is absorbed.
- Let the cakes rest for 24 hours in some kind of covered container. Covered cake plates work well. After 24 hours of rest they are ready to be eaten.
- If they are not to be eaten after the 24 hour rest, wrap the cakes with plastic and store them in your refrigerator for up to a week.
- On the day when they are to be eaten, take the cakes out of the refrigerator and serve them when they have warmed to room temperature.
- I pray that your Christmas celebrations will be filled with gratitude for Christ’s first coming and hope for his second coming. Merry Christmas—Dale McClure
Food for Thought
Christmas Blessings to You!
By that I mean,
May the full weight of God’s sweeping love,
—A love strong enough that it compelled Him to throw off His glory
And don a human body with miseries like yours and mine,
So He could die to release us from the burden of our sins—every pettiness, every unfaithfulness, every lie, every murderous thought, every hateful deed—
And transport us to Heaven to live, cleansed and holy, forever with Him,
Come upon you.
May it dawn upon you like a sky of fireworks!