Buttermilk Fruit Cake:
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (240 ml/grams) buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (150 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups (300 grams) dried and/or candied fruits (raisins, currants, dried dates, dried figs, dried cranberries, dried cherries, currants, dried apricots, candied mixed peel, candied cherries, etc.)
Buttermilk Fruit Cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour, or spray with a nonstick vegetable/flour spray, a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan.
In a bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, baking soda, and ground spices. Add the dried and/or candied fruits and toss to coat all the fruit.
In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla extract, and sugar. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing well. Immediately pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or with the back of a spoon.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 - 60 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. This cake is excellent warm from the oven or at room temperature. Can be covered and stored at room temperature, or in the refrigerator, for about a week. Or it can be frozen.
Makes one - 9x5 inch loaf
This Buttermilk Fruit Cake is one of those cakes that is perfect any time of the day. It's moist and buttery, it's loaded with dried and candied fruits (which is the way fruit cakes must be) and it's nicely spiced with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. But take note, this fruit cakes does not contain eggs. This recipe is loosely based on one I found in Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's excellent book called Home Baking. Like all of their books, it is full of wonderful stories, recipes, and photographs. There are recipes from all over the world covering pastries, breads, cakes and cookies. A great book to have in your collection.
A few notes on ingredients. As I said above this fruit cake is eggless. The batter does contain buttermilk which makes the cake tender and moist. You can buy buttermilk or buttermilk powder, or you can make a good substitute. Just stir 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into 1 cup (240 ml/grams) milk and let it stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes and then it's ready to use.
For this fruit cake I like to use a variety of dried and candied fruits. But the choice of fruits is up to you. You can use just one dried fruit like raisins (dark, golden, or even currants), or you can use a variety like dates, figs, dried cranberries or cherries, dried apricots, etc. You can also add some candied mixed peel and/or candied cherries. You can macerate the fruits in alcohol before making the batter and you can do this step up to a day before. Some good alcohol choices are Grand Marnier, rum, brandy, or even a sherry.
Raisins, like dates, have a high sugar content which helps retain moisture so the cake will stay fresher longer. Raisins, like currants, are simply dried grapes. Both dark and golden seedless raisins come from Thompson seedless grapes. The difference is that dark raisins are sun dried which gives them that dark shriveled appearance. Golden raisins are treated with sulfur dioxide first to prevent them from turning dark and then air dried to keep them a lovely golden yellow color, plump, and moist. Currants, on the other hand, are dried Zante grapes and are dark, tiny, and very sweet. Candied fruit is actually preserved fruit that has been dipped several times in a concentrated sugar syrup. This process preserves the fruit's original color and shape, while giving it a smooth and shiny coating, a very sweet taste, with a firm and slightly chewy texture.