Baking a fruitcake is a little different than regular cakes. In this post, Fruitcake 101, you will find tips for baking the perfect fruit cake, for storing your fruitcake whether you make yours with alcohol or fruit juice.
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I know Christmas is coming so everyone has almost started with the fruitcake preparations. To those of us that have been doing fruitcakes for years, it's just a regular cake. For those that are just starting out, it's quite unnerving when people tell you - fruitcake is different? How is it different? Why is it different? and What do I need to do differently?
How is fruit cake different?
- Well, it has so much more than just four egg and butter? The real difference is the addition of all those gorgeous fruits.
- Most often we eat our cakes baked fresh, but not a fruitcake. Usually, a fruitcake is well preserved, fed with alcohol over weeks before the special day.
- If you do not follow the right process for storing fruit cake you could end up with a moldy fruit cake, which is not very pleasant.
- Most cakes are decorated with buttercream, ganache fondant and such but a traditional fruitcake is brushed with orange marmalade, then wrapped in marzipan and then covered in Royal Icing or sometimes fondant.
My mom baked cakes a lot. In fact, she took orders for cakes but never decorated them. I remember the once July sets in she'd soak her fruits. And once October sets in she'd start making her preparations and arrangements to make sure she has a nice cozy cool corner for the fruitcakes to rest. That's what she'd call 'the season'. She was very good at baking, so she'd get book way in advance. I credit her for all my baking skills.
I have given you a few fruitcake recipes so this post is not about one recipe. And you can use it with almost all fruitcakes that call for dry fruit and nuts. Especially the ones you make during the Christmas season.
Here, I have compiled a few tips that I think are really important to know when baking fruitcakes. I do hope you find them useful.
Tips for baking a perfect fruitcake
- Always soak the fruit, at least overnight if not for longer t it will soften and make the cake moist. Soaking the fruits means that the fruit will not absorb any more moisture from the cake batter and will cook in its own juices. This results in a very flavorful moist cake.
- Dust the fruit in flour before you add to the batter so they will not sink to the bottom of the pan. If the fruit is wet, drain excess liquid and dust with flour just before adding to the batter. The fruit on its own, when added to the batter, tends to sink to the bottom of the cake. When you dust the fruit with flour - this flour helps to hold onto the cake batter keeping it in place.
- You can add the liquid in which the fruit was soaked to the batter separately (unless you want to limit the quantity of alcohol or unless stated otherwise in the recipe).
- Fill the pan only ⅔ full, not more. Fruitcakes do not rise when baking because they do not have too many leavening agents or lots of eggs. But a ⅔ full pan is always good for even baking in cakes.
- Fruitcakes cook long and slow. Which is why linning the baking pans on all sides is very important. This will prevent the outside from overcooking while the center is still cooking.
- When it comes to fruitcakes, I prefer to line the pan as well as use cake strips. This always gives me a moist cake. It does take longer to bake with the slow cooking.
- Ensure oven temperature is low so the batter will cook evenly without drying out the fruit.
- Often add some water to the baking tray around the pan or a small bowl of water in the oven can help keep the cake moist.
Mixed spices and flavors
One of my pet peeves about Christmas baking or should I say fall recipes is that people add too many spices. So much that everything tastes like cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or gingerbread spice. I think adding spices is great if you can keep the proportion to a minimum. The spices are there to enhance flavors not to overpower the other flavors. So, next time you follow a recipe with spices, perhaps check to see if you want them all or reduce the quantity a bit.
- Mixed spice is generally made with cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, allspice, and ground nutmeg sometimes even caraway seeds, cardamom, and cayenne.
- And if you cannot get mixed spice, add ⅛ teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground clove and or ground allspice.
- Don’t like spices in your cake? Add ⅛ teaspoon Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla or ½ teaspoon almond extract - you can add all three or just simple plain vanilla extract.
- And if you are going to use orange marmalade to brush the fruitcake later you could add ½ teaspoon of orange extract to enhance the flavors when baking too.
This was our Tip Thursday collection for this week.
You can find them all on this blog and Pin them on Pinterest.
Tips for storing fruitcakes
In general – you can store Fruitcake at room temperature for one month, refrigerator for six months, or store it in the freezer for up to a year!!!
To ensure you have a nice moist fruitcake
- Take a muslin/cheesecloth soaked in rum, brandy or fruit juice Wrap the cake well with this liquor/fruit soaked cheesecloth.
- Cover the wrapped cake in aluminum foil.
- Do not let the aluminum touch the cake directly. The acid in the liquor will corrode the foil and affect the flavor of the cake.
- Place the cake in an airtight plastic box.
- Keep away from direct sunlight.
- The liquor/juice soaked muslin/cheesecloth can be refreshed every month to ensure a moist fruit cake (optional)
- Place an apple in the box with the fruitcake to help keep moisture. (optional)
- Extended Length storage – to store for more than a year. Cover the alcohol-soaked fruit cake in powdered sugar, then in plastic and then in an airtight container.
Again this was our Tip Thursday last week
You can find them all on this blog and Pin them on Pinterest.
Why does my fruit cake not rise?
A fruit cake is a dense batter loaded with fruit so it won't rise like a regular sponge cake. However, it is not a flat dense cake so there has to be some rise because we do have leavening and eggs in the batter. Make sure to check the baking powder is not expired.
Why is my fruitcake crumbly?
Measure the ingredients properly, so there a good balance of fruit to the cake batter. Too much fruit means there is not enough batter to hold it all together. Alternatively, too much sugar in a cake batter to crumble when you cut. Too little sugar can make the cake dense and tough.
My fruit cake is too dry?
Often, over-baking a fruit cake is the cause of dry fruit cakes. A fruit cake must be baked at the right temperature. The too-high oven temperature will dry the cake. Follow the recipe closely, including baking times.
Frequently asked questions
While fresh fruit keeps the cake moist, dry fruits can take moisture from the cake. Soaking the fruits ensures they are already moist so the cake stays moist and flavorful for longer. You don't have to soak the fruits for months, weeks, days, or hours. Even an hour or two is a good start.
Store a fruit cake in a cool dry place away from sunlight wrapped well in parchment or greaseproof paper and foil. Then place in an airtight container.
Later to store a fruit cake for longer than one year. Cover the alcohol-soaked fruitcake in powdered sugar, then in plastic, and then in the airtight container.
Personally, I love to use brandy, dark rum or Cognac. But, sherry, whiskey, orange-flavored liqueur such as Cointreau work too.
By adding more moisture to the cake. Soak a cheesecloth with alcohol, fruit juice, or syrup. Wrap the cake in the soaked cheesecloth and place it in the refrigerator.
Well, this depends on how boozy you want the fruit cake. You don't want the cake too soggy but you don't want a dry or stale cake either. For a rich mature fruit cake feed it once every week for 12 weeks.
My 10 BEST Fruitcake Recipes
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