My mother was big on fruitcakes. Every year, she’d order fruitcakes by the dozen, we ate some over the holidays and the rest she gave to friends. In Speedy’s family, he’s the only one who likes fruitcakes.
Naturally, by the time we had our own house, fruit cake always had a special place in our holiday menu. Speedy has an aunt who baked the most delectable fruitcake and we’d anticipate its arrival year after year. When his aunt became sickly and could no longer bake, we started buying commercial fruitcakes. Very few satisfied us. Most were too dry, others tasted of cheap alcohol and others had way too much alcohol as though to mask the lack of flavors of the cake.
I have tried baking fruitcake, of course, but the idea of keeping it in the fridge for months and brushing it with brandy every few weeks was too much effort for me. I wouldn’t have attempted it again were it not for a conversation with my ex-future-sister-in-law, Laura, a couple of months ago. She has a fried who sells banana-based fruitcakes, Laura has tried it and declared that it was good.
Yesterday, with four overripe bananas sitting on the dining table, I baked two fruitcakes. I used an old banana cake recipe and added dried cranberries and blueberries, and whole cashew nuts.
Following the tres leches principle that a HOT cake straight out of the oven has the capacity to absorb a lot of liquid, I poked holes on the cakes and poured blackcurrant vodka over them — almost quarter cup for each cake. I let the cakes cool in the pans then took them out. By that time, the vodka had been completely soaked up. I wrapped the cakes in cling film and put them in the fridge.
Why cranberries and blueberries? And what’s the idea with the blackcurrant vodka? Dried cranberries and blueberries were what I had. Blackcurrant is a berry too so I figured the blackcurrant vodka was the perfect choice for the fruitcakes. Six hours later, I unwrapped one of the fruitcakes and sampled it. It tasted like it had been aged for months. Mellow, not overly sweet with the tang from the dried cranberries and blueberries providing a wonderful balance and contrast.
A fruit cake that doesn't need aging
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 cup full fat milk
- 1/2 cup palm oil
- 1/8 cup rolled oats
- 1 and 1/8 cups all-purpose flour sifted
- 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (I used 4 lacatan)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup whole cashew nuts
- 1/2 cup blackcurrant vodka
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease and flour two small loaf pans. Skip this step if using non-stick bakeware.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.
Pour in the milk and oil.
Stir in the oats and flour.
Fold in the mashed bananas until the mixture is uniform in texture.
Fold in the dried berries and nuts.
Divide the cake batter between the two loaf pans.
Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes or just until a skewer inserted at the center comes out with just a few fine crumbs clinging to it.
Take the cakes out of the oven. Using a skewer, poke holes all over the cakes going all the way through to the bottom.
Slowly pour blackcurrant vodka over the cakes.
Cool the cakes in the pan.
When the cakes have cooled, remove them from the pans. Wrap in cling film and cool for at least six hours before slicing.