I’ve never been a fan of hockey puck paperweight pre-packaged fruitcake nastiness. I had therefore never contemplated any attempt to bake my own. Then one day my buddy Jill posted a Facebook update sharing the fact that she was making her “Big Gramma’s” fruitcake recipe. I was intrigued! Then I found out that she uses dried fruit instead of gross “candied” fruit. I was impressed! Then she explained that she wraps the cooled cakes in brandy-soaked cloth. I was sold!!! I begged for the recipe and she responded by posting it on her blog, 5 Ring Life. The link to her original recipe can be found here: Big Gramma’s Fruitcake. My three-year-old son Charlie was stoked to help me make the fruitcake but could not grasp the fact that we would NOT be eating it today…or tomorrow…or a week from tomorrow. I did my best to explain the concept to him in terms he could understand: We’re going to wrap the cakes up and stash them away until Christmas. He suddenly lit up with excitement:
“It’s a Hide-And-Seek cake?!! We’ll hide it and find it for Santa!”
…So I guess we’re leaving fruitcake out for Santa this year?! For Ryan and my sake, this stuff had better be good Jill! ;D
And now, I’ll follow the recipe directions from Jill at 5 Ring Life to make a couple “Hide & Seek Cakes”:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 & 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup applesauce (I use homemade)
1/2 cup shortening (not oil, butter, or margarine)
1 cup raisins
1 lb either candied fruit or dried fruit bits (I use dried fruit bits/chunks because I don’t like candied fruit chunks)
1 small jelly glass-full (which is about 5-6 ozs) of preserves (do *not* use grape because it overpowers the flavor)
1 cup walnuts (optional)
“…Combine…Put fruit, raisins, and nuts in last…”
Easiest recipe instructions EVER!
I used a combination of homemade and store-bought dry fruit (since, like Jill, I can’t stand candied fruit!) that included plums, apricots, peaches, apples and cherries along with the suggested raisins and crushed walnuts.
“…Grease and flour large loaf pan…”
I don’t actually own a loaf pan (I’m hoping to buy a glass one some day soon) but I found this three-pack of foil trays at the dollar store so I’m making two wide loaves instead.
“…Bake in loaf pan @ 250-275 degrees for 1-2 hours…When inserted knife comes out clean, take out of oven…”
In the two pans, it took an hour and 40 minutes before the knife came out clean…but it smelled amazing while it was baking!
“…Cool…When cooled, invert on rack til room temperature…”
The cakes were both very dense (possibly due to my wide flat foil trays!) so they took a long time to cool completely…which made me realize how impatient I’m going to be while waiting a month for them to cure!
“…Wrap in a clean old rag soaked in brandy or bourbon (*NOT* wine). I prefer the flavor that brandy gives. I also use a *lot* of brandy, but that’s a matter of preference. You can do it very lightly too, but some is needed to help “cure” it…”
“…Wrap cloth tightly and securely in plastic…”
“…Wrap plastic tightly in foil…”
Much better. Now it just looks like “space dope”! Hahaha!!!
“…Put foil wrapped loaf in cool dark spot for at least a month. (I usually make it when I’m doing my Thanksgiving baking so it’s ready for Christmas.)…”
Jill hides hers in a closet. I chose the cupboard above our pantry where we store linens. It almost never gets opened!
“…Yum yum YUM!!!!!! Put out at Christmas and *enjoy*!”
Obviously I’ll have to update this post when I pull the cakes out of hiding for Santa. Stay tuned! 😉