The fruit and spice laden bread is the quick way to satisfy an insatiable craving for a traditional fruit cake. Orange peels and zest, cinnamon, and allspice, lend this full-bodied fruit bread an intriguing flavor. The medley of dried fruits and nuts give it a lovely texture, and jeweled tones.
Less than a week is left for Christmas and I suppose all of you must be planning, preparing and shopping. We are busy at our ends too. The holidays for the kids started and we are trying to spend as much with each other and our friends.
I wasn’t going to bake anymore over the weekend. I had just got done with the Linzer Cookies, but I kept going back to Meeta’s Florentine Christmas Fruit Cake. I had bookmarked her recipe the moment I had set my eyes on it. I will make that later sometimes. The Florentine topping of her cake had got me floored and awakened my consciously suppressed desire to bite into a fruit cake.
What I made today does not even get close to the grand Florentine Cake. I did not have all the ingredients. But what I did today did have all the fruits and flavors and helped to settle down the sudden urge. The recipe here is just the regular ingredients used for a basic cake with some spices, dried fruits and nuts.
It simply does not feel like a festive season without the boozy fruit cake or the ginger bread. No offense meant, but most Americans squirm at the sound of a Fruit Cake. I am still not sure why. Maybe the entire idea and the feel of a fruit cake is all too European. A warm cup of light fragrant Darjeeling tea, the chilly winter mornings and the brown paper wrapped dried fruit loaded cakes are some of the things that had always defined the month of December for me.
For myself, I cannot imagine a Christmas without a fruit cake. Sweet memories of enormous bowls of batter, a lot of hands whisking it up, bowls and bowls of dry fruits and orange peels – the aroma still hangs strong. It was my grandmother’s responsibility, but we ALL helped. Then was the late evening baking, which had to happen outside home in the local bakery – for the little oven was not enough to bake them all. Finally came the time when late at night the warm cake wrapped in brown paper or newspaper arrived and of course the first taste of the season - the taste, and the feelings which I will never forget.
This is really all I could come up with all the ingredients I had at home. It was fast but good. Call it a quick sweet bread/cake which barely took fifteen minutes to get it ready before it went in the oven. And it had the fruits and the orange peels and the spiced rum – all the lovely bites and aroma to make a real fruit cake.
Wrapped up pretty, they would make wonderful homemade gifts for the holidays.
Spiced Fruit Bread
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- a pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons candied orange peels or finely chopped orange rind
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 5 tablespoons spiced rum
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 1.5 cups orange juice
- 2 cups dried fruit mix (raisins, apricot, cranberries, dried cherries, figs, prunes)
- zest of 2 oranges
- 3/4 cup chopped nuts, any nut of your choice
For the glaze:
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Pre heat oven to 350 degree F (180 deg. C).
Grease and flour (or use a floured spray) 2 7 1/2 inch loaf pans.
Combine all purpose flour and almond flour in a bowl. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. all spice and nutmeg and whisk the flour mix to incorporate as much air as possible.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl till well combined, about 4 minutes. Add egg and beat till fluffy, for another 3 minutes. Add orange extract, orange juice, and rum and beat till everything is just combined, about a couple of minutes.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the bowl and beat till everything comes together, while scraping the sides of the pan. Do this in 2 batches. The batter will be thick, NOT a pancake like thin batter.
Dust the nuts, dried fruits. candied peels and the zest with flour.
Gently fold in the fruit and nut mix into the bowl. Spoon the dough into the loaf pans, half the amount in each pan and bake for 45-50 minutes; once the 45 minutes is done, brush the top of the loaves with the orange juice and sugar mix. Bake for about 10-15 more minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Towards the end, if the top turns too brown, cover it with parchment paper.
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
Slice only when completely cooled.
A good old bread to be served for breakfast and brunch, or the afternoon tea. Ours were gone while we snacked on it all day long. The cake matured a day or two later – the fruits and flavors infused and every bite filled us with wonderful bites and aroma.
Happy Holidays to you all!!