Not your Grandmother's Fruitcake Recipe
When I was a kid, fruitcake was one of those food gifts that always made an appearance at Holiday time. Wrapped in heavy-duty foil and dressed with dazzling red and green ribbons, it snuck in posing as a delectable celebrity on my mother’s dessert table.
It was dutifully delivered by friends who devotedly baked a multitude of them every year for gifts. Half of my family loved them and looked forward to them annually and the other camp (myself included) said a polite no thanks, pass the chocolate brownies, please.
I was never impressed by the faux neon green cherries or the hard, sticky texture from regular doses of strong bourbon as it aged, so I never gave it a second look when it appeared on the table.
Fast forward about 25 years and I am offered fruitcake again, but this time it’s in Australia and the green cherries were noticeably absent and it’s covered with a thin layer of Marzipan, a confectionary almond paste, and then topped with a smooth fondant sugar icing. It was here that my fruitcake horizons started to expand and developed a deep fondness for fruitcake.
Down under, fruitcake is still today favored at weddings for the traditional bride. It has a reputation as a formidable contender in the special occasion cake category among the masses. There are variations and different styles of fruit cakes depending on the region and the family recipe. Originally a British specialty, the Australian version has fruits that are more on the tropical side which gives it a different flavor profile. The tradition of fruitcake at celebrations dates back to the early Eighteenth century when bride cakes descended from enriched bread recipes that were studded with dried fruits.
So now my attitude has changed about fruitcake. Today if I want a tasty traditional fruitcake I order it online from the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana Texas, the oldest fruitcake company in the United States. (www.collinstreet.com) They have been making fruitcakes since 1896 and theirs bears no resemblance to the door stops of my earlier years. But if I want a different kind of fruitcake that’s a snap to make and has the same nut and dried fruit goodness, I make a flourless version. It’s not the traditional cake that was passed around to relatives at holiday time, but a chewy, rich cake that can also be served to my gluten-free guests.
New Age Fruitcake
So easy to put together and delicious, it’s made from all-natural fruits and nuts. Even the pickiest fruit cake eaters will love this version. This recipe was adapted from the website www.Food.com which used traditional candied cherries. Any dried fruit will work beautifully in this recipe.
Makes 2 loaves
14 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
8 ounces chopped dates
16 ounces chopped pecans or walnuts
8 ounces dried cranberries
8 ounces dried pineapple
2 (14 ounces) cans of sweetened condensed milk
Place coconut, dates, nuts and dried fruit in a large bowl, breaking up with your hands and until there are no large chunks of fruit stuck together remaining.
Stir in sweetened condensed milk until well mixed. (Gloves work well here)
Spray 2 one-pound loaf pans with non-stick spray and line pans with parchment paper, cutting in strips so the paper comes up the side of the pan to be used to remove. Spray the paper and press into the pan to make sure they are secure.
Divide ingredients evenly in pans and press down mixture to pack down in pans. Wet your hands to keep them from sticking from the batter.
Bake cake at 300F for one hour until the top becomes brown. Broil if needed for 2 minutes to brown top. Edges will be brown when done.
Let cakes cool 10 minutes before removing. Remove paper while warm.
Store in Refrigerator.