Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Jeweled gingerbread fruitcake

Candy your own fruit and use your own preserves in this traditional holiday treat

This cake is named for my mother, not because she prepares it, but, rather, because she can’t help but practically inhale it every time I make it. To be honest, I am as fond of fruitcake as she is, and we are both fairly discerning connoisseurs. Not just any fruitcake will do. It has to be warmly spiced with the likes of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; sweet and dark with brown sugar; and moist with the jewel-colored fruit we like best: raisins, dried cranberries, apricots, dates, prunes, and candied citrus peel. A generous splash of whiskey or rum doesn’t hurt, either.

As is traditional with fruitcake, we generally like to further contribute to the uninhibited, fervent nature of this cake by dousing it with more of the fiery stuff for at least several weeks after it is baked. It is by no means required, but covering the fruitcake with a smooth, white fondant cloak makes for a lovely finish and presentation. Actually, the cake is first brushed with apricot jam, then covered with a thin sheet of marzipan, and finally enrobed in rolled fondant. These layers not only add flavor and texture to the cake, but stored in a cool area, they help to preserve it for at least three weeks, as well.

Makes one nine-inch cake

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup almond flour (almond meal)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 cups dark raisins
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup lightly packed dried pitted apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup lightly packed dried pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 cup lightly packed pitted prunes, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped candied orange peel or store-bought candied orange peel
  • ¼ cup chopped candied lemon peel or store-bought candied lemon peel
  • ½ cup whiskey or dark rum plus more for soaking the baked cake
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¼ cup apricot jam or preserves
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest of 1 orange

Finishes
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam or preserves
  • Confectioners’ sugar for rolling
  • 9-10 ounces marzipan (available in most supermarkets)
  • Cornstarch for rolling
  • 1 ½ pounds rolled fondant (available in craft and cake-decorating stores)

* Silver dragées for decorating (optional)
* Crème Anglaise for serving (optional)

Preparation
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter a 9-by-3-inch springform pan. (A nonstick pan is helpful here.) Line the bottom with a round of parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the bottom and sides of the pan.

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