The day before: Soak the raisins, chopped pitted dates, dried fruits, lemon zest in 1/2 cup or up to 1 cup rum or brandy. (I personally prefer less so I soaked the fruits in half a cup). Place these soaked fruits and the liquid in a large resealable, plastic bag. Keep refrigerated overnight.
How to bake the fruitcake:
The following day, prepare the loaf pans. Grease and line with parchment paper at the bottom. *Note: When I used the oven-safe paper loaf pans, I did not need to grease them. Set aside.
Preheat oven at 325 F.
In a small sauce pan, pour the contents of the resealable bag -- the soaked dried fruits and the liquid.
Add the sugar, butter, juice, ground cloves, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Then turn the heat down. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove this sauce pan from the stove top.
Transfer the contents to a large mixing bowl and let cool on the counter for 30 to 40 minutes. (If in a rush, I put the bowl in the refrigerator to cool for 20 minutes).
In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda and powder.
When the fruits have cooled, gradually mix in the flour mixture. Blend well.
Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well.
Pour the vanilla extract and molasses. Blend all ingredients together with a wooden spoon till batter is smooth.
Pour the fruitcake batter into the loaf pans, filling about 3/4 full.
Decorate the top of the fruitcake with dried cherries, whole pitted dates, and nuts.
Bake in the preheated oven at 325 F for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
To check if fruitcake is done, pierce the middle of the cake with the tip of a sharp knife. If it comes out clean, cake is done.
Remove from the oven and cool loaf pans on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes.
Brush the top of the fruitcakes with one tablespoon of rum or brandy.
When fruitcakes have cooled completely, keep in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Every so often during the week, open the containers and brush the top with rum or brandy. Do this 3 to 4 weeks before giving the fruitcakes as gifts or serving them.
To prepare as gifts: Wrap the Holiday Fruitcake in clear or colored cellophane or place them in decorative tins or boxes as gifts.
Cook's comments: If you prefer other traditional glazed dried fruits, feel free to substitute the tropical mix I used of dried mangoes, pineapples and jackfruit to candied fruit (for fruitcakes) available.If you prefer to use less rum or brandy, brush the fruitcakes with grape juice in the 3 to 4 weeks after baking. This keeps the cakes moist. Recipe tip from Jenni Field of Pastry Chef Online:
If you prefer not to use rum or brandy, Jenni Field suggested you can soak the dried fruits in apple cider. Her recipe for The Beloved's Fruit Cake is here.
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