from: Paradise, Inc.
Product: Old English Fruit and Peel Mix (1 lb)
Festive Holiday Fruit Cake
1/2 cup bourbon or rum or brandy (I prefer brandy)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) Paradise Old English mix
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) pineapple wedges (assorted colors)
1 – 8oz red cherries
1 – 8oz green cherries
1 cup dried apples, coarsely chopped (I use dried figs)
1 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped
2 cups currants or dark raisins
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup walnut halves
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I also add 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon all-spice powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pour 1/2 cup bourbon or rum over combined fruits and nuts in large bowl; let stand 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Measure remaining ingredients into large mixing bowl. Beat at low speed until blended; beat at high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in fruit mixture. Spread mixture evenly in greased 12-cup fluted or angel pan cake, or 2 greased 6-cup fluted cake pans. Press mixture firmly into pan.
Bake in pre-heated 250 F oven until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Cool in pan on wire rack 20 minutes; invert onto wire rack and cool completely.
Garnish with whole cherries, pineapple and nuts.
Source: JunJun and Adoree of Manila Bulletin
Q: How can I extend the shelf life of fruitcakes without using potassium sorbate. Should I always refrigerate fruitcakes to make them last for months?
Jun Jun: First of all, potassium sorbate is a preservative used mostly for baked products, and it inhibits the growth of molds and yeasts and has been generally recognized as safe. Most of the packaged foods you see in the grocery have this in them. Since fruit cakes have liquor in them, you can use this liquor as a preservative since no microorganism will live in liquor with high alcohol content. You have to poke or make small holes in your fruit cake after it has cooled then you will brush it will alcohol, everyday for the first two days, while storing it in the refrigerator. Of course you have to wrap the cake in aluminum foil then in plastic film so that no smell will be absorbed by the cake. After which you can freeze it and may stay in the freezer for three months. Since you still have to package your fruit cake, it must go back to room temperature, if you do, it must be brushed heavily with liquor as a safeguard. Common liquor used are brandy and rum. Remember brush with a lot of liquor and freeze, never refrigerate.
Adoree: Not using a preservative such as potassium sorbate is ideal especially if you are baking for your family. Jun Jun is right about the role of the liquor in the fruitcakes. Not only does it give the distinct flavor of fruitcakes, it also helps to prolong the shelf life. However, for commercial purposes, I suggest you consider using it, for you do not know how well your customers will store the fruitcakes, and to add to that, for how long. The use of potassium sorbate is also commonly done by bakers especially those who make their fruitcakes a few months in advance. They do this because fruitcakes taste better as they age. Storing your fruitcake in the freezer, instead of the refrigerator, is a better way to prolong its shelf life, with or without preservative.
Q: What’s a real fruitcake like?
Jun Jun: They said there is only one fruit cake in the Philippines and it was made 40 years ago, it has just passed from one person to another all these years, hindi puede since in our freezer we have about six, you can pick what year you want, I have from 1992, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, parang wine…..heheh….but the older they are the better they taste….parang patis…..what I am talking about?….ayan na naman ako…..Fruit cake is a traditional Christmas winter cake made with candied or dried fruits, dried fruit rinds, nuts, ground spices and liquor or brandy. It is characteristically full of fruits and nuts and very cake is seen just enough to bind the cake together. The type you get in tin cans from abroad are the real thing. It must have a heavy dose of alcohol and must really smell like it. They are baked slowly, after cooling, are traditionally wrapped in cheesecloth which is moistened with the alcohol and then tightly wrapped in the foil. When it is kept this way, this can be stored and kept for many years and that’s my secret.
Adoree: Fruitcakes are fundamentally butter cakes with enough batter to bind the fruit. Candied or dried fruits can be used, together with nuts, spices and liquor. Many people feel that fruitcakes improve greatly with age that is why they are usually baked way in advance and when people receive one of these, they do not consume it right away. When fruitcakes are well saturated with liquors, which raise the spirits and keep down mold, they can actually be enjoyed for years after baking.
Q: My fruit cake has a very strong flavor of orange in it. I don’t know where it is coming from, tried adding other flavors to remove the orange taste to no avail, what can I do?
Jun Jun: The orange taste is coming from your glazed fruits mixture. The local mix has plenty of it in its composition what you can do is to totally remove it from your list of ingredients or remove each and every orange rind that you see in the mix, hehe….you can actually take it out and just add more of the glazed cherries, raisins, dates and do an actual measurements for each of these items so that you also get a very consistent fruit cake taste. Some people even use candied santol and kamias for this. Have a variety of additional textures.
Adoree: Honestly Charlene, I’m quite unsure what your question really meant. If my fruitcake gives off a strong orange flavor, I think I would love and appreciate it more. I’ve read recipes that call for soaking the dried fruits in orange juice and another one, with the addition of orange juice and orange zest into the batter. I think these are fresh ideas we can incorporate to give a twist in our traditional fruitcakes. I agree with Jun Jun, the orange taste is most likely coming from the glazed fruits. For whatever reason you want to take off the orange flavor, you can always substitute dried fruits like apricot, figs, raisins, sultanas, prunes and dates for the glazed fruits or just substitute part of the glazed fruits with the dried fruits or more nuts.
Q: My fruit cake cracks on top during baking….I also noticed that this is where some of my molds appear after some time at room temperature. What’s happening?
Jun Jun: Your fruit cake cracks because your oven temperature is quite high, you have to set it at a low set oven between 300 – 325 degree Fahrenheit since your cake batter is inside less than a regular cake and there are more morsels of fruit and nuts it will really take a longer time to bake. There are molds on that part since it was still raw, the center of the cake is the last to be baked, maybe you removed it when it was still a bit liquid and since it was unbaked microorganisms can easily settle and react with your ingredients. Bake it well. Use a toothpick to make sure that it is baked and insert it in the middle of the cake since this is the last area to get baked.
Adoree: Chances are your oven temperature is too high that your fruitcake cracks on top. To avoid this, you can either lower the oven temperature by 25 F (300 F to 325 F should be okay) or you can bake your fruitcakes in a bain marie to ensure a more gentle cooking. Remember that nuts are high in fat, which make them susceptible to molds. This is why molds first appear between cracks of the fruitcake since these are where the nuts are. Cool your fruitcakes properly by transferring them on a cake rack. When completely cooled, tightly cover foil then in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator for short term storage, and in the freezer for long term storage.