I don’t think it’s too spoilery to say that there’s a wedding coming to Downton Abbey, and weddings in England apparently mean fruitcake.
Now, fruitcake’s gotten a bad rap over the years, but the real stuff is pretty damn good. Unfortunately, it usually needs several days (even weeks) to cure, so I found a recipe that skips that step entirely by leaving out the alcohol. For those purists, a traditional recipe follows.
Mrs. Middlemiss’s Rich Fruit Cake
From The Complete Traditional Recipe Book
1 c caster sugar
1c dark brown sugar
2T + 2tsp treacle
18T (2 ¼ sticks) butter
¾ c self-rising flour
1 ½ c white flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 ½ lb mixed dried fruit (candied peel, currants, sultanas, glace cherries, crystallized ginger, chopped dates, chopped prunes)
1 T milk
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake tin. Cream the sugars, butter, and treacle. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition until combined. Sift the flowers and mixed spice in a separate bowl, add the dried fruit, and mix together. Gradually fold into the butter and sugar mixture, then add the milk. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 2 ½ to 2 ¾ hours, until done.
Royal Fruit Cake
By Fiona Cairns
1 1/2 cups candied cherries
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups dark raisins, preferably Thompson
1 1/4 cups mixed candied citrus peel
2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup dried currants
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons bitter orange marmalade
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
finely grated zest of 1 organic orange
finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
1 heaped tablespoon apple pie spice
6 tablespoons brandy, plus 3 tablespoons to feed the cake
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups almond flour
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preparing the Fruit Cake Batter:
The day before, rinse the cherries, then dry them well with paper towels and cut each in half. Place the golden and dark raisins, mixed peel, ginger, currants, cherries, molasses, marmalade, tamarind paste, zests and spice into a large bowl. Pour in 6 tablespoons of brandy, stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with brown paper and tie with string, to protect the cake from scorching in the oven.
Spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven, shaking once. Cool slightly, chop coarsely and set aside.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. In an electric mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes until it turns pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, then very gradually the eggs, mixing well between each addition. Fold in the flour with a large metal spoon and then the soaked fruits (and any liquid) and nuts.
Spread the batter into the pan. Bake on an oven rack in the lower third of the oven for about 2 1/2-3 hours. If a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, it is ready. If it browns too much before it is fully cooked, make a circle of foil a bit larger than the cake, pierce a hole in the center and open it up, then place it over the pan.
Let cool in the pan. Pierce all over with a wooden toothpick and evenly sprinkle over the remaining 3 tablespoons brandy. Remove from the pan and discard the paper. Wrap in fresh parchment paper, then aluminum foil, and let stand for a week or up to
three months. Unwrap and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon more brandy every other week, if you like, for extra succulence and booziness!