Fruitcake. It's the Christmas tradition that nobody wants. However, this tradition stems from abundance. Historically, fruitcakes were made after a very successful harvest, and stored until Christmas (or even the next harvest), when they were eaten in celebration and for good luck in the next year's harvest. The secret to keeping this cake so long is in it's care. Each week the cake needs to be brushed with alcohol or flavored syrup. This helps to preserve it as well as to keep it moist. The modern dislike of fruitcake probably comes from the lack of care and attention given to them, making them hard bricks of weird fruit and nut bread.
That being said, this year I decided to put my own spin on this traditional baked good, hopefully reviving the old tradition with a bit of a Bat Lady flair.
As with all my recipes, there are a number of awesome variations that you can use. I really don't like apricots, so I used pineapple in this recipe, but feel free to use the traditional apricots. Really, you can use any fruit you'd like in place of any of the other fruits (a small amount of elderberries might make for an interesting cake), same goes for the nuts. I prefer cashews and almonds to a few of the more traditional nuts, but you can use whatever nuts you'd like. Have fun with it and make it your own!
This awesome recipe features Juniper berries and Gin, two of my favorite things! Also, it makes about 12 cups of batter, so you can use a 10-inch bundt pan, a 9X13 inch baking pan, 2 9 inch round cake pans, or it can make 18-24 cupcakes.
Blueberry Citrus Fruitcake
The Fruit Mixture:
1 ½ cups dried Blueberries
½ cup Golden Raisins
½ cup dried Pineapple
¼ cup candied Ginger
½ cup Gin (my favorite gin to use is Magellan, but any gin will work) or St. Germain (an Elderflower liqueur)...or go crazy and use half of each!
5 tbsp ground Chia Seeds
10 tbsp Water
2 cups Gluten Free Flour Mix of your choice (my favorite is by Namaste)
¾ cup milled/ground Flaxseed and/or Chia seed (buy it already ground or grind your own using a coffee grinder)
1 tbsp Baking Powder (gluten free of course)
½ tsp Sea Salt
2 Oranges, remove the peel (not the pith) with a vegetable peeler and reserve it, squeeze the oranges after peeling and reserve the juice
1 Lemon remove the peel (not the pith) with a vegetable peeler and reserve it, squeeze the lemon after peeling and reserve the juice (½ for the cake and ½ for the glaze)
1 Lime remove the peel (not the pith) with a vegetable peeler and reserve it, squeeze the lime after peeling and reserve the juice (½ for the cake and ½ for the glaze)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp ground Juniper Berries (I grind mine using a coffee grinder)
4 cups Honey (or Agave)
1 cup of Coconut Oil (or Ghee)
¼ cup Cashews, chopped
¼ cup slivered Almonds
½ cup Honey
½ cup Gin
½ the reserved Lemon Juice
½ the reserved Lime Juice
Combine the dried fruits and booze in a non-reactive (I use glass) bowl. Toss well, cover, and allow to soak overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat your pan/pans with olive oil (or ghee) and dust with flour. Combine 5 tbsp ground Chia Seeds and 10 tbsp water, mix well, and chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Combine flour, Flax/Chia Seed mixture, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Combine ½ of the lemon juice, ½ of the lime juice, and ¾ of a cup of orange juice with vanilla extract and set aside.
Toss soaked dried fruit with 2 tablespoons of flour mixture, set aside.
In a food processor, process your citrus peels and ground Juniper until the peels are finely ground. Add in honey, chilled chia mixture, and coconut oil. Process until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of the flour mixture, add juice mixture to combine. Fold in the rest of the flour mixture, dried fruits, and nuts until just combined.
Scrape batter into the prepared pan(s) and baked until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine honey and citrus juices. Bring to a boil, while stirring to combine. Remove from heat and add in gin. Stir until well combined.
When the fruitcake is done, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack, about 10 minutes.
Using a skewer or toothpick, poke small holes in the top of the cake. Slowly spoon a small amount on top of the cake and allow it to soak in. Let the cake set and absorb the syrup for a few minutes, then repeat the process as many times as it takes to use up all of your prepared syrup.
*Optional. Dusting the cake with powdered sugar helps make it look a little more Christmas-y and the powdered sugar helps preserve the cake as well.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 2 hours before removing from the pan. Can be served immediately, but this cake tastes better if allowed to sit for at least 24-48 hours before serving. If you want to store it long-term, wrap it up in cheese cloth and foil before placing it in an air-tight container. Each week, using a basting brush, cover the fruitcake with more syrup (one application of syrup at a time). For more detailed instructions on long-term care of fruitcake check out this page.
I know this is a little more complicated than most of my recipes, but I hope you enjoy making (and eating!) this fruitcake! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!