Sunday, September 9, 2012

Shonagh vs. Fruitcake: Day 1

So I decided to take on fruitcake.  Why I don't remember.  I think it came up in some sort of search, perhaps I was looking up preserved fruit or apricot cake.  Either way, I have decided to become the queen of fruitcake.  It is my new Christmas tradition or should I say, it will become my new Christmas tradition.

I am a little obsessed with tradition, how it orients our lives, creating rhythms and familiarity, a cycle.  Often we think of traditions as old-fashioned, and they can be, associated with grandparents and parents.  However, it is entirely possible and quite joyful to start new traditions.  I already have one Christmas tradition - my Christmas Eve Brunch and now it has a companion - Gingery Fruitcake.

When I came upon my first fruitcake recipe it made me think.  What is the purpose of fruitcake?  So many malign it terribly, but somehow it has clung on.  As I pondered the purpose of fruitcake, surrounded by fresh fruit I had brought home from the Farmer's Market, it hit me!  The purpose of fruitcake is to capture summer!  This fruit-filled cake exists to ease the chill of winter and to keep people going until spring.  So with this purpose in mind, I decided to radically redesign my fruitcake turning it into the height of fantastic deliciousness.

Creating a fruitcake is a process and the process should begin the day before you actually bake it.  The first steps are drying the fruits you want to use and candying your ginger.  I chose a ginger fruitcake because ginger is one of my favorite things in the world and in my opinion makes almost everything better.

Fruit Directions

1) I selected apricots and cherries for the fruit portion of my cake.  They came from a local shop.  I quartered the apricots and halved the cherries, putting them on baking sheets at 200 F.  If you have a dehydrator then use that, but don't suck all the moisture out.  They should be dry but not dry to the bone.  You want some plumpness in your fruit still.  This took most of the first day, over night and a bit more time in the morning.  I turned the oven on for several hours, turned it off over night but kept the fruit in the oven, turned it back on for an hour in the morning and then turned it off again leaving the fruit in the oven for another five hours or so.  I snipped the apricot quarters in half again once they were dry.

Ginger Directions

1) I love candied ginger.  This is a really easy way to do it and leaves a beautiful texture to the root.  Peel your ginger bulbs and then cube the ginger.  The easiest way to cut ginger is to cut lengthwise first (with the fibres) and then against the fibres.  If you are finding that your ginger is really stringy then it might be a touch too old.

2) Add your cubed ginger to a heavy pot with two cups of sugar and two cups of water.  Turn the heat on to medium and let the whole mess simmer for two hours or until the ginger is at a nice level of softness.  The liquid should be reduced by half.  Pour everything through a strainer, reserving the syrup.  Dust your candied ginger with sugar and let cool.  At this point you really should treat yourself to a little spoonful of the ginger syrup.  Watch out though it will blow your socks off!  Spicy and fantastic!

You are now ready to make the fruitcake itself but that is being saved for another post.  Check back in a few days for the next stage of glorious ginger fruitcake.

Do you love fruitcake?  Have you ever met a fruitcake that you didn't like?  What is your take on those green candied things that try to pass themselves off as fruit?


Shonagh explores the guts of food in An Offal Experiment.


  1. Looks like you took on a project with the fruitcake and made it work, it looks great, i'll try it out and see what happens.

    1. Just wait! In a few days I am posting the recipe for the rest of the cake and then will do another post on feeding it. Yes. You feed fruitcakes. They're like a little pet.