Since I became enamoured with old-fashioned cooking (especially with cast iron), I've been trying many different classic cooking techniques. One of my most successful efforts was creating a Christmas Plum Pudding in the classic British tradition, with suet and classic pudding ingredients. However, not everyone has the time or the facilities to spend four hours steaming a holiday pudding. A modern-day fruitcake, made from traditional ingredients and baked in the oven, has a shorter preparation time than a steamed pudding. Not only is it delicious – it far outstrips those hideous blocks of "fruitcake" sold in stores. It's well worth the effort to make one…and if your family and friends are the kind who might run away just because "it's fruitcake" – then tell a little white lie and say it's a SPICE CAKE.
Studying other fruitcake recipes gave an interesting conclusion: many of those recipes put so much emphasis on the fruit, they do very little with the cake batter. This is a fruit cake – a cake with fruit, not just a bunch of fruit pieces held together with batter. That's why this recipe adds additional ingredients to the cake batter itself, including milk, honey, and rum. I've actually made this cake without the fruit, but with the spices; and it still turned out to be a very satisfying spice cake on its own.
Pans needed: Large bowl to mix batter. 2-quart 10-to-12 inch bundt cake pan.
Preparing a fruitcake is one of the easiest recipes in the world! Once you've gathered your ingredients together, here's all you need to do:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Chop up dried fruit and candied ginger. Peel and chop up apple, removing the core. Keep the chopped apple in a separate bowl. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice in with the chopped apple, to keep it fresh so the apple doesn't brown. Chop or crush nuts into pieces.
Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in eggs. Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder. Mix it all together.
Add rum, milk, and honey. Mix it all together.
Add spices: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, plus ground ginger if you're using it here. Mix all together….
Add filling: raisins, candied citrus, candied ginger (if you're using it here), dried fruit. Chop up apple and added it in. Zest one lemon and one orange. Add nuts. And mix it all together.
To keep your cake from having a floury residue on the outside after coming out of the pan, prepare a mixture of 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco), and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix together, and use this to grease the pan. Pour cake batter into bundt pan.
Bake at 300 degrees F for 60 minutes, then test with a toothpick before removing the cake from the oven. If the toothpick is not dry, wait 10 minutes and test again. A deep pan, such as a bundt pan, will take longer to thoroughly bake, and may require as long as 90 minutes; while a more shallow pan, such as a standard layer cake pan, will finish faster and may be completely ready after 60 minutes.
Set the pan onto a trivet, and let the cake rest for 10 to 20 minutes before flipping the pan over to remove the cake.
Prepare a honey glaze (seen below). Alternately, serve slices of cake topped with butter, cream cheese, or a Buttercream Hard Sauce.
Warm milk in saucepan, mix in sugar and ginger. Add honey to thicken the mixture and give it a tan-brown color. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.