Every year I make several fruitcakes for our family and to be given as a gift to my parents and first husband. Over the years, I have made, tweaked, and served Alton Brown’s Free Range Fruitcake. I posted about my fruitcake two years ago when my food photography skills were less than good. In fact, Michael reposted this fruitcake picture on a blog hop and he thought it was meatloaf!
It was then I know I needed to take a class to two!
This year I decided to Make Alton’s recipe as written. I tripled the recipe and it made a total of nine fruitcakes of various sizes. I usually use a micro planer to zest the oranges but this year I followed Alton’s directions to cut the zest off the orange and lemon. I chopped the peels into smaller pieces but they are still a bit assertive. I used three large oranges and three lemons. I will cut that back a bit next year. In the week and a half that the fruitcakes have sat, the strong citrus taste has mellowed out. Or, maybe it is all the apple juice and apricot brandy I have spritzd on the cakes!
If you like fruitcake, or even if you don’t, give this recipe a try. It really is delicious. Allow at least a couple of weeks for the cakes to rest and soak up the brandy before they are eaten. You’ll be glad you did.
Here is Alton Brown’s recipe for Free Range Fruitcake.
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup currants
- 1/2 cup sun dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup sun dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup sun dried cherries
- 1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped)
- Zest of one lemon (chopped coarsely)
- Zest of one orange (chopped coarsely)
- 1/4 cup candied ginger (chopped)
- 1 cup gold rum
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
- 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
- 4 whole cloves (ground)
- 6 allspice berries (ground)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pecans (broken)
- Brandy for basting and/or spritzing
- Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests. Add rum and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit.
- Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice and spices. Bring mixture to a boil stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes. (Batter can be completed up to this point, then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before completing cake.)
- Heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture. Quickly bring batter together with a large wooden spoon, then stir in eggs one at a time until completely integrated, then fold in nuts. Spoon into a 10-inch non-stick loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done. If not, bake another 10 minutes, and check again.
- Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack or trivet. Baste or spritz top with brandy and allow to cool completely before turning out from pan.
- When cake is completely cooled, seal in a tight sealing, food safe container. Every 2 to 3 days, feel the cake and if dry, spritz with brandy. The cake's flavor will enhance considerably over the next two weeks.