Love it or hate it, fruitcake season is upon us! Filled with fruit and aged for as long as you can manage, this unfairly maligned cake is making a welcome comeback. Who doesn’t love fruit and cake? This particular recipe was popular with our grandmothers. Light in colour (not in weight) this cake allows the festive jewel-toned fruit to shine. A good fruitcake improves with time, so try to get your baked and squirreled away in November (at the latest). This cake can be made with or without alcohol. It may seem like a lot of steps, but it’s actually quite easy―just allow yourself 2 days to make it.

*allow 24 hours for fruit to steep in either brandy or tea

This grandmother's version is from 1942!

This grandmother’s version is from 1942

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of butter or margarine (softened)
3 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
443 ml can of crushed pineapple (15 oz)
450 grams of light sultanas (approximately 3 cups)
225 grams or 1 cup of candied/glazed fruit (mixed fruit or cherries or a combo of both)
115 grams or 1/2 cup of mixed candied/glazed peel
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1/2 of brandy or strong tea (cooled)


METHOD

The day before:

In large bowl, combine the raisins mixed glazed fruit, and peel. Mix well.
Stir in the brandy or an equal amount of strong tea (cooled) to coat the fruit.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow the fruit to macerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Baking day:

Prepare an 8-inch pan (square makes for nice slices, but round or loaf pans are fine) that is 3 inches deep and has a removable bottom. Grease the bottom and sides and line with parchment paper. Then  grease the paper.

Preheat oven to 300

In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy, gradually adding sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, ensuring all ingredients are incorporated. Add in the vanilla or almond extract and beat a minute more.

Set aside one cup of flour. Sift remaining 2 cups of flour with salt and baking powder. Mix dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture.

Sprinkle reserved cup of flour over the macerated fruit and toss ingredients lightly and quickly. Gently fold the fruit mixture into the batter.

Stir in crushed pineapple (including juice) and mix until everything is well combined. Spoon the batter into the greased pan, using a knife to even it out. Decorate the top of the cake with candied/glazed fruit if you like.

Place small pan of hot water on the lower rack in the oven.  Put the fruitcake in centre of the middle rack and bake low and slow for approximately 2.5 hours or until cake is golden,  firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean.

If it looks like the cake is browning too much, loosely tent it with tinfoil to slow things down. Remove cake from oven and place on a rack to cool for an hour before carefully removing from the pan and returning it to the cooling rack.

Once the cake is cooled completely, brush with brandy (optional) and wrap in brandy or tea-soaked cheesecloth. Wrap again in plastic wrap and then tin foil. Store in a plastic bag of box in a cool dry area. If you’re going the brandy route, remove the wrapping and brush the top and sides with brandy once a week.