Wednesday, December 30, 2009


When I made Coconut & Lime's Cranberry Ginger Tea Bread, I thought the recipe needed something. I was originally going to try again and add more oil and maybe another egg and be done with it, but as the original loaf sat around, the more I thought it tasted like a fruitcake base. So that's what it became. Dad was over on cookie-baking day, lamenting the fact that he had not yet had any fruitcake. He's not a connoisseur--he'll eat the super-commercial Claxton or Hostess brands with no complaint--but I thought he should have a good fruitcake this year. A home-made one, even.

You legion of fruitcake fans out there are probably thinking "Wait up there, Miss Minx! Fruitcake must be made weeks, even months, before its eaten! It needs to be wrapped in cheesecloth and doused in spirits (so consumers won't notice how bad it really is)." Yeah yeah, I tried that once. It was a lot of work and expense and the cake came out moldy because the fridge I stored it in had humidity issues. Never again.

And that's why a quickbread version sounded particularly attractive to me. I changed the original recipe by swapping out the 1/4 cup of oil for 1/2 cup of butter. I didn't have sour cream on hand so used yogurt instead. And I omitted the fresh ginger.

The fruit component of the "fruitcake" was made up of 3/4 cup of mixed dried blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries that I soaked in warm vanilla rum, about a cup and a half of chopped walnuts and pecan halves, and a good handful of that weird plastic-y fruitcake fruit (because I know Dad likes it).

All of the extra ingredients required an extra half hour in the oven, but look at how golden brown and delicious it came out! I made sure the cake wasn't stuck in the pan before I brushed on a vanilla rum syrup (simple syrup with rum added). After unmolding the bread, I brushed the syrup on all sides and let it cool completely before wrapping it in foil.

I presented it to Dad on Boxing Day. He wasted no time in getting a knife.

Shockingly, amazingly - it was good. I hate fruitcake, and I thought this was pretty great. It wasn't too sweet, and there wasn't too much of the green cherry stuff. I think I might make this an annual tradition, switching up the recipe a bit every year. I realized as I was eating it that candied citrus peel is an integral part of the fruitcake flavor, as are nuts. The other candied bits are for texture and color. So next year I'll skip the red and green stuff. I think figs would make a good addition, maybe some dried sour cherries too.

Any other suggestions? Does anyone out there actually like fruitcake?