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Old Fashioned Fruitcake Aged with Brandy

Dense, dark, rich and sweet, this fruitcake is as enjoyable to make as it is to eat. I didn't think I liked fruitcake all that well until I decided to try making one soaked in Brandy.  There's something fascinating about soaking a cake in spirits and then aging it. If you enjoy sampling Brandy and other spirits, then you will find that tending to a cake by pouring alcohol on it is quite fun.

Oh sweet, wonderful fruitcake soaked in Brandy!  I gaze longingly at you for two long weeks, waiting for you to be aged to perfection. What intriguing, experimental loaves you are, sitting there aging on the counter this holiday season.  I can't wait to cut into you and sample your rich fruits and moist, spirited goodness.

Once you've started aging the cake, you may want to pick up another bottle of Brandy.  That is, if you enjoy sampling Brandy while tending to your cake as I do.

A great place to pick up the dried fruit is Trader Joe's.  Out of everywhere that I looked, I found that their dried fruits and nuts were the best quality and were fairly inexpensive, too.

I'm using my grandmother Elizabeth's measuring spoons to sprinkle Brandy over the tops of the two baked loaves. I wonder if my grandmother enjoyed Brandy? I think she did. These spoons are one of the few items that I have from grandmother Elizabeth.

After two weeks, the loaves are ready to eat.  They will keep much longer, of course - but I can't wait any longer and so I've opened one of them.  The cheesecloth that surrounds the loaf has turned a golden brown from the Brandy.

So yummy!  Last year, when I brought one of these loaves to a neighborhood holiday party, one of my neighbors told me that the only fruitcake he liked was the recipe his wife made.  He was skeptical about mine but decided to give it a try. He ate several pieces.  I was flattered when after the party had ended, he asked if he could have the few remaining pieces of my fruitcake.  He quickly wrapped them up in a napkin and took them home.  Somehow, he has radar because he just recently came by when I was getting the ingredients out for this recipe.  I think he wants more fruitcake.

Recipe for Old Fashioned Fruitcake Aged with Brandy

4 1/2 cups mixed dried fruits (suggestions include chopped prunes, apples and apricots, along with raisins and currants, but you can adjust based on your preferences)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (walnuts and pecans work well)
1 bottle of Brandy
3 cups white flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsp water


Soak the fruit in Brandy: Place dried fruit in a dish with a lid and add 1 cup of Brandy.  Mix the fruit so all is coated, and then cover and soak for 10-12 hours (leave it out on the counter), stirring the fruit 2-3 times throughout this period of time.  If your house is not too warm, you can leave the fruit to soak for up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 2 loaf pans by lining with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, brown sugar, vanilla and water. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture.  Stir in the nuts and the brandy-soaked fruit.  Divide the mixture between the two loaf pans and spread it out smoothly.

Bake for 40 minutes and then place a piece of foil loosely over the top of the two loaves to prevent burning.  Bake an additional 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the loaves are still hot, sprinkle about 1 and 1/2 Tbsps of Brandy over the top of each loaf.  Allow the loaf to cool in the pan before removing.  Once cooled, wrap each loaf in cheesecloth that has been dampened evenly with Brandy, and then double-wrap each loaf in foil.  Place in a cool, dark place to age.  Every 4 days or so, unwrap the loaves and re-soak the cheesecloth in more Brandy, and then re-wrap with the cheesecloth and the foil.  Age for at least 2 weeks before serving.