The British Fruit
Cake is traditionally served during the Christmas season. It is full of
and nuts, laced with alcohol over several weeks, and often covered with
marzipan and royal icing. The problem is that it's both expensive to make and it needs time to age.
Luckily, there is a much simpler version of this cake for the last
minute baker, and I call it an Easy Fruit Cake. You may know it
as a Boiled Fruit
Cake, a War Cake, and/or a Bachelor's Cake. I love a lot of things
about this cake. I love that it still uses all the necessary fruit cake ingredients, like
dried and candied fruits and ground spices. I love that the batter is so
easy to make and you don't need to pull out your stand mixer. And most
importantly, I love its flavor and that it can be eaten almost right away. This is one cake that is so good
that it begs to be made all year, not just during the Christmas season.
This Easy Fruit Cake does not contain
alcohol and yet its texture is still wonderfully moist. Now, the reason
it's often called a "Boiled" Fruit Cake, is because the brown sugar,
water, butter, spices, and raisins are, in fact, "boiled". Once this
boiled mixture has been left to cool to lukewarm, all that's left is to
fold in the rest of the ingredients. And that's it. Then just pour the
batter into your pan and bake. Now, if possible, do try to resist eating
this cake right away. Although it doesn't need weeks to age, it does
benefit from being stored, at least a day or two.
A few things about this
recipe are worth mentioning. For the dried fruit, you can just
use raisins. But I have used both dark and golden raisins, along with currants, and
some dried cranberries. Spices can also be
adjusted to your taste, adding more or less of each. Finally, if
you are an avid fan of fruit cakes and want to make them year round, it might be a good idea to pick up extra candied
peel during the holiday season as it can be difficult to find
during the rest of the year.
Easy Fruit Cake: In a large saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil
the sugar, water, butter, spices, and dried fruit. Boil gently for five minutes,
then remove from heat, and let cool until it is lukewarm. (This will
take about 45 to 60 minutes.)
your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter, or spray with a nonstick
vegetable spray, an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 inch (21.5 x 11.5 x 10 cm) loaf
pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly
butter the paper. (Note:
if using a dark colored pan reduce the oven temperature
to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C).)
Once the mixture has
cooled, stir in the lightly beaten eggs, flour, baking soda, vanilla extract
(if using), and
candied peel. Pour into your prepared pan, smoothing the top with
the back of a spoon or offset spatula. Bake for about 55 - 65
minutes or until a
wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake
comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for
about 15 minutes before removing from pan.
If possible, cover and store for a few days before serving. This
fruit cake can be frozen.
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