Specially selected dried fruits and dark Rum maceration blends with a spice variety.
Smooth tasting butter companion with deep Demerara sugar for a special outcome.

Here's to celebrating surprising results first time out of the gate.
Also my very first time having the desire to actually take a spatula...
to what I always considered the boring fruitcake.

Other than our typical Italian 'Panetone', the fruitcake was a...
close second to being put at the bottom of my list.

A few tweaks later, thrilling results came from every bite.

Here's another source of my continual inspiration...
nature rumbling through the start of winter outside my window.

Our sweet table has started early this year...
a fruitcake has actually made it into my repertoire...a real keeper.

Other than wanting to add a few colorful maraschino cherries next time...
I will not want to change anything else going forward.

This recipe was initially based on a "7-day Fruitcake" by Canadian baker-chef Eaglesham.
However, by the time I was through making my changes, it took on a life of its own.

I had no comfort in waiting for the dried fruits to macerate for 5 days...
especially since all the liquid got gobbled up the first day.

Among several important changes, I added citrus zest as well as nuts to the recipe.
Overall, her recipe inspired me enough to want to try making a cake that lacked excitement.
The result was so tasty, that I actually thought it was worthy to share with my friends ;o)

yields 4 small-medium (8x4x3 inch) loafs

(American measures)

Part-1 - FRUIT to macerate: (do ahead)

. 6 cups worth of organic dried fruits, chopped small...Suggestions: apricots, cranberries, dates, figs, maraschino cherries, prunes, raisins...etc...
. 1-1/4 cups aged dark Rum
. 1/2 cup water
. 1/4 tsp. sea salt
. 1/2 tsp. each: ground cinnamon, cardamom and fresh grated nutmeg
. 1/4 tsp. each: ground cloves, allspice 

Part-2 - CAKE:
. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
. 1 cup Demerara sugar (or dark brown sugar)
. 4 xLarge eggs
. 1 tsp. pure Vanilla extract
. 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
. 1 Tbsp. baking powder
. 2 lemons or oranges, finely zested
. 2 cups roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
. 1 cup sliced almonds

... Part-1 - FRUIT mix (24 hour maceration):
1. In a medium saucepan, add the chopped, dried fruit and pour the Rum and water over it.  Bring it to a boil and immediately, lower the heat to gently simmer for 8 minutes.  Afterwards, remove it from the heat and integrate all the spices.  Transfer the mix into a deep bowl and cover with a plastic wrap, touching the surface.  Macerate for about 24 hours.
... Baking day:
. Pre-heat the oven to 275F.  
. Position the rack in the center of the oven.
. Have a jumbo baking sheet ready to place the loafs.
2. Prepare 4 cake loaf pans, lightly oiled as well as lining them each with long, overlapping pieces of parchment paper on the length side.  Note: Hold the paper on the edges with the aid of small binder clips.

...Part-2 -CAKE:
1. In a large bowl, beat and cream the softened butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.   
2. Add one egg at a time and combine well before adding the vanilla.
3. In three parts, add the sifted flour and baking powder and beat on LOW speed only until traces of flour disappear. Do not over beat.
4. With a strong spatula, blend in the citrus zest as well as folding in the macerated dried fruit mix a little at the time.  Last, fold in the nuts.
5.  Evenly, spoon and lightly level the very thick cake batter.  Now, cover and touch the cakes with their parchment paper flaps.  Place all four pans onto the baking sheet.
. BAKE for 2 hours, remove from the oven and let them rest for 15 minutes before removing and letting them cool on racks.   

. Later, when cooled, wrap them up individually in aluminium foil and refrigerate.  This cake is best to try after at least 2 days.  The flavour will only improve with time and stores well for at least 1 month.

Fruitcake crackers:

1. Wrap the fruitcake in aluminium foil and freeze for about one hour or so.  Afterwards, slice the frozen cake as thinly as possible.   

2. Pre-heat the oven to 325F.  Position the rack in the center of the oven.  Place the thin slices side by side on a parchment lined baking sheet.  

. BAKE for about 20 minutes.  Careful not to over-brown them.  Remove and leave the pan to cool before removing the crackers.  
. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Another brilliant idea to try something new has brought joy to my heart and of course my tummy ;o)

Here's to facing more challenges in the upcoming holiday season.

Have a glorious day and flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later. 

Here are other holiday treats that may be of interest:
- Chocolate Caramel Cheese flan cake {aka ChocoFlan cake}
- Chocolate CRINKLE cookie CRACKLE color CHUCKLES
- CLEMENTINE CHOCO NUT flourless torte cake
- Chocolate Torrone Ganache truffles
- 'Yule log' cake {Bûche de Noël}