This is the first time in my entire life that I've made fruitcake. My mother passed away in 2005 and I wanted to remember her this year by making her recipe. She never used candied fruit but only red raspberries from her garden that she had frozen and fresh cranberries. The rest of the ingredients came from dried fruits such as dates, raisins and currants. Nuts were usually those that she had gathered and dried herself. My step-father would help with the process by cracking the nuts for her and she would painstakingly pick out the nutmeats. They were usually hickory nuts or black walnuts. I swear she and my step-father were the kind of people that could have supported themselves from the land if the need ever presented itself.
So, here is my holiday tribute to my mother:
And, here is her recipe:
Virginia's Fruit Cake
2-1/2 cups raisins, chopped in half*
1-1/4 cups dates, chopped into similar size as raisins
1/2 lb mixed fruit, such as raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, etc.
1 cup chopped nuts**
1 cup cold strong black coffee
1 cup butter
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
3-1/2 to 4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*I used golden raisins here
**I used half black walnuts and half regular walnuts to give it that 'earthy' flavor that reminds me of how my mother's fruitcakes tasted. I found black walnuts at my chain grocery store.
Mix fruit, nuts and coffee and let stand while prepared other ingredients. (I put mine in the refrigerator overnight to 'marinate'. Cream butter, sugar and then add eggs one at a time while beating until light and fluffy. Mix flour, baking powder and spices and add to creamed mixture. Blend in fruit and nut mixture. Divide among loaf pans - fill 3/4 full. (This recipe made 6 small sized loaves for me).
Bake at 300 for 2 hours or until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool and remove from pans. Wrap in foil and refrigerate. Let come to room temperature before serving.
When I make this again I think I will add some grated citrus zest and maybe even a splash of limoncello. I wish I would have thought of it while I was making it. It is still very good and I'm so glad I made it. It's wonderful with coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon!