In my previous post I linked to the two more traditional fruitcakes. If you like a more traditional, dark, candied-fruit-and-booze-filled fruitcake, these would be the ones to make.
The Best Fruitcake Ever recipe from Yankee magazine was the cake in the heart pan. That's their description, not necessarily mine, but this would be a good recipe to start getting people into fruitcake, or maybe to serve on Christmas morning with coffee. It had a quick bread type taste.
The panforte recipe that I made, I grabbed from the Savour Fare blog. The only thing I did differently was that I used King Arthur Flour's candied mixed peel instead of the orange peel, melon and lemon zest. It was delicious as is, but I think it might be even more delicious with the original ingredients. I'd make this again--but I would COMPLETELY pay for pre-blanched and skinned almonds and hazelnuts, just to cut down on time. If I did that I could make this in about an hour, where since I had actually cracked open, skinned, and toasted the nuts, it took me about four (or it felt like it).
There are a couple of conclusions that I can draw from tasting all these homemade fruitcakes:
- Homemade almost always beats commercially-made, simply because anything you make (as long as you know how to bake and don't mess anything up) will taste fresh and wholesome.
- Homemade tastes only as good as the ingredients you use, and those ingredients should be fresh and of good quality.
I didn't think I'd have enough candied fruit for the panforte, so drove over to the local grocery store to see if they had any more. I was pointed to a tiny, forlorn corner of the produce department, to 2-3 very, very sad plastic containers of candied fruit. They were violently colored and just didn't look good at all. I decided that I'd rather have less fruit in my cake than use that fruit, and I think it was a wise choice.
If you want to make your own fruitcake, plan for it. Collect what you need, and invest in good candied or dried fruit, fresh nuts, etc. My friend followed the direction at the bottom of the Best Christmas Cake recipe and purchased her fruit from Market Hall Foods in Oakland, and it certainly seemed to make a difference in her cakes. The most phenomenal cakes I've tasted have house-made candied fruit in them, so if you're feel obsessive you might want to start there.