It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I’m really once again not quite ready for that!
The Christmas trees are in stock at our local grocery stores, and the plazas in our little town are beginning to get crowded during the day. I am looking forward to seeing any of our children and their significant others whenever we will be so blessed, and I hope that it will be a more relaxing Christmas season than the previous year’s. The pandemic is still with us, but we have learned to adjust our habits to keep reasonably safe we hope.
This year, I am hoping to simplify our Christmas purchases, but that remains to be seen. I will not visit the big stores for Black Friday, but I may visit our local small businesses and shop online for the rest. The house is in good shape for our young guests and I have been polishing the silver, and organizing the good china and linens.
I am reminding myself once again, as I fret about potential Christmas purchases, that they don’t have to be perfect – That we give presents at Christmas to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men. The Wise Men travelled a great distance to give Jesus gifts to show respect and love to their newborn King. Now I have no religious education, but I’m trying to say that these gifts were meant to show love and honour, and so as long as we choose our gifts with love and care within our means – and try our best, we should not wear ourselves out with stress about choosing the exact right gift. The fun should be in the giving and receiving of gifts no matter what they are, and just being with whoever we are lucky enough to be with, enjoying the day if we can.
A few years ago my wonderful sister in law shared my late mother in law’s recipe for Dark Fruit Cake. I really appreciate this, and enjoy making, eating and proudly sharing this fruitcake. This recipe was actually part of one of the best Christmas gifts we’ve received, a bunch of family recipes!
This Fruit Cake recipe gives me a way to make something that honours and remembers someone that I and my children didn’t have the privilege of knowing, and is now an important tradition for my family. I am making fruitcake again today, even though I should have made it back in August, faithfully, basting it with brandy and then freezing it to enjoy at Christmas. I don’ t mind sipping a bit of brandy along the way. Somehow this pandemic put my Christmas mood into a funk, and put my planning on hold, but I’ve had enough now of this pandemic – haven’t you?
I hope that my mother in law would be proud to see her recipe posted, and I hope I get to share it with my family!
This recipe for Dark Fruit Cake is not difficult to prepare, but it requires loads of fruit, cheesecloth, brandy and 4 and a half hours of time in your oven – so today is a great day, because I have nowhere to go and it’s cold outside. The fruit must be soaked overnight in brandy and grape juice before you make the cake – so be prepared. I am reposting this recipe from last year, with a few edits and A NEW PRINTABLE RECIPE CARD FOLLOWS!
DARK FRUIT CAKE INGREDIENTS:
2 lb raisins
(The original recipe called for white and dark raisins but I used different types of raisins available in my local market to total 2 pounds and provide a variety of texture and appearance- I used Thompson, Golden and Sultana)
2 lb. mixed fruit
(This is generally a mixture of candied mixed fruit peel and candied red and green cherries, but there was no peel to be found this year, so I’m using just the cherries this year)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup grape jelly
750 ml each Concord grape juice and brandy (combined)
(I used of 2 cups of grape juice and 2 cups of Brandy to soak the fruit initially, and then I saved the rest of the juice and brandy (from 750ml bottles) for soaking the fruitcake after the baking – I may have sipped a bit though)
1 cup butter (room temperature)
6 eggs (well beaten)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
DARK FRUIT CAKE PREPARATION:
The evening prior to making the fruit cake, place the raisins and fruit in a large bowl and cover with brandy and grape juice. Place in the refrigerator overnight and stir every so often to distribute the liquid.
*Use 1/2 cup of flour to toss and coat pecans – set aside (I could only find whole pecans this year, so I crushed them with a potato masher and chopped them a bit)
Mix the dry ingredients (the remaining flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice) in a separate bowl and reserve.
Cream room temperature butter with an electric mixer until light. Add sugar & cream well, add jelly and eggs. Mix well.
Now I’m not sure why, but every time I turn the electric beaters on I find Max suddenly under my feet. I don’t think it’s the brandy.
Add dry ingredients 1/3 at a time, stirring until well mixed. Then add fruit & nuts.
Pack well into non-stick sprayed foil lined tins – bake at 275 degrees F for 4 1/2 hours.
This recipe is for one 6 lb. cake., but I usually make 4 loaf tin sized cakes.
Put a pan with water in oven with cake for moisture. ( watch as you might have to add more water.)
Let cool and remove from baking tins and foil. Wrap in cheesecloth and baste with grape juice and brandy. (Baste cloth also) Baste and turn cakes over a few times per day, and place in refrigerator for a few days. store in freezer or refrigerator. I typically make this in the summer time and then freeze, but this week I will be wrapping the fruitcakes, and basting them liberally daily – placing the cakes in the refrigerator until Christmas Day.
I will try not to sip any more of the brandy in the meantime.
Here is a printable recipe card! Enjoy!!