Spiced Rum Fruit Cake
Dried figs, dark cherries, apricots, pineapple, raisins, and crystallized ginger are soaked in spiced rum then baked in a dark brown sugar batter to make this incredible moist holiday fruit cake. No, not the red and green plastic-like sugar brick that comes to mind, this fruit cake is more of a traditional European cake using dried fruit instead of artificially colored candied chunks.
Candied fruit cakes became popular in the US as mail order items in the early 1900’s. Mass produced cakes utilized large amounts of sugar which was discovered to work as a preservative making them ideal for shipping. Unfortunately the fruit cake got a bad wrap here in the US as a result of these blocks of candied sugar which no one wanted to eat and seemingly lasted forever. The fruit cake became a running joke for Johnny Carson claiming there was actually only one fruit cake which was passed from family to family, year after year. The town of Manitou Springs Colorado has hosted a fruit cake toss for more that 20 years including the Hand Toss, Kid’s Toss, Launch, Pneumatic Gun or Canon, Team Catch and Accuracy competitions, the event also includes a fruit cake bake off. Canned food items are collected as admission and donated to the local food bank.
In other more civilized parts of the world the fruit cake is an honored holiday tradition and is not at all like our American version. The German Dresdner Stollen is probably the cake that people are most familiar with. France has its Gâteau aux Fruits, Italy bakes Panettone, Poland enjoys Keks, Czech Republic delights in their Vánočka, the Swiss make a Birnenbrot, our friends in Chile celebrate with Pan de Pascuaand, and in Australia fruit cake is enjoy all year long. So maybe this is a good year for you to embrace a part of your heritage where ever your families are from and give the fruit cake a chance.
- 1 1/2 cups diced dried pineapple diced
- 1 1/2 cups dark or golden raisins
- 1 cup diced dried apricots diced
- 1 1/2 cups dried dates diced
- 1 cup dried sour cherries
- 1/3 cup crystallized ginger diced
- 1 cup dark spiced rum
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup dark spiced rum
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup boiled cider or dark corn syrup
- 1/2 cup cranberry or apple juice
- 2 cups toasted pecans or walnuts chopped
- Soak the dried fruit with the spiced rum in a non-reactive sealed container 8 hours or overnight.
- Boil water in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Slowly add sugar and stir to dissolve, heating again if necessary. Allow to cool to room temp before mixing in rum. Store unused porting in a sealed jar to brush on the cakes later.
- Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat to 300°F. Prepare 2 - 9”x 5” loaf pans by lining with parchment paper and greasing.
- Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl at least 6-quarts. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the boiled cider and juice and mix until completely combined.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder, and cocoa. Add the flour mixture about a third at a time mixing well.
- Fold in the fruit along with any remaining liquid, and the nuts. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir until everything is well combined. Batter will be thick.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling them about 3/4 full. Tap the loaf pans on the counter to remove any air pockets.
- Bake the cakes for about 2 hours 15 minutes. Test the cakes after 2 hours. Use a wooden skewer to test the cakes for doneness.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and place on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Loosed the edges with a knife and lift the cakes out of the pans by the parchment. Wipe out any bits and replace cakes in the pans to cool.
- While the cakes are still warm, brush them with rum syrup.
- Once cakes are completely cool, remove from pan and peel away the parchment paper. Brush all sides with the rum syrup and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Cakes should be stored at room temperature for 6 to 8 weeks.
Decorate the tops with additional dried fruit and nuts if desired.
Feel free to use any combination of your favorite dried fruits, just remember you need about 2 ½ pounds total.
Brush the cakes every couple weeks with the rum syrup to make them ultra-delicious.
Cakes can also be baked in muffin tins. Line the muffin pan with paper liners and lightly spritz with non-stick spray. Bake for about 60 minutes, testing with a toothpick. To store wrap individual cakes in plastic wrap and store in an air tight container. Recipe will makes about 36 muffins.
Brandy can be used in place of rum if you prefer. For an alcohol free version replace the rum with apple or cranberry juice.