For Holiday Fruitcakes That Age Well : This Traditional Treat Can Be Stored for as Long as 25 Years
Many people feel that fruitcakes improve greatly with age. When they are well saturated with liquors, which raise the spirits and keep down mold, and are buried in powdered sugar in tightly closed tins, they have been enjoyed as long as 25 years after baking.
Fruitcakes are fundamentally butter cakes with just enough batter to bind the fruit. Raisins, figs and dates can be more easily cut if the scissors or knife used is dipped periodically in water. If you do not care for the usual candied fruits, do as one fan wrote us. She cooked chopped dried apricots, dates, raisins and currants in orange juice, used whole-wheat flour and added pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
For a 2 1/2-pound cake, use an 8-inch ring mold or a 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan, either filled to about 2 1/2 inches. To prepare a tube pan, line the bottom with a round of greased parchment paper or foil and cut a straight strip for the sides. Bake as long as indicated in individual recipes or until the cake tests done by pressing lightly with a finger.
Fruitcakes, still in the pan, are cooled from 20 to 30 minutes on a rack. After removing the cakes from pans, the parchment or foil in which they are baked is carefully peeled away and the cake rack-cooled further until entirely free from heat.
To decorate the cakes with candied fruit or nutmeats, dip the undersides of the decorations into a light sugar syrup before applying them, or simply cover the cake with a sugar syrup glaze and arrange the trimmings on it.
To store, wrap the loaves or tubes in brandy- or wine-soaked linens. If prefered, make a few fine skewer punctures in the cake and pour over it very slowly, drop by drop, to 1 cup heated, but not boiling, brandy or wine. However you glaze or soak the cake, wrap it in liquor-soaked linen, then in foil. For very long storage, bury the liquor-soaked cake in powdered sugar. In any case, place it in a tightly covered tin in a cool place.
Excerpted by permission of Macmillan Publishing Co . from “Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker by the Bobbs-Merrill Co .