Fruitcake should be made up to one month ahead of time (at least 3 weeks) so it has time to mellow.
One fruitcake provides double the amount of servings of a standard cake or loaf of equal size.
Use fresh good quality ingredients -- make sure spices are fresh.
Completely dust the fruit and nuts with flour so they do not fall to the bottom of the batter while baking. Shake off excess flour before mixing in the recipe.
Plain dried fruit can be substituted for candied fruit.
Soak fruit and nuts at least overnight in fruit juice or liquors to soften, drain and use excess liquid in recipe.
Fruit juice can be substituted for liquor as a soaking liquid. Be sure to refrigerate and consume within two months.
Do not feel absolutely bound by a recipe. If the recipe calls for brandy you can substitute wine or even a fruit juice of your choice. If the recipe calls for citron and you do not care for citron, substitute another candied or dried fruit. If you do not like raisins, use more chopped dates and fewer raisins. If the recipe calls for particular amounts of candied pineapple and cherries, the same weight of a fruit mix may be used. Keep in mind the weight of fruit and nuts should be approximately the same as in the original recipe. Within this boundary, you can make substitutions of your own choice.
Add 1 cup of applesauce to your fruit cake recipes to make a moister fruitcake.
Baking pans should only be filled 2/3 full of batter, not full.
Line the pans with greased brown paper or waxed paper to prevent the cakes from burning during the long baking time.
Oven temperature should be low enough to cook the batter fully without drying out the cake -- preferably at 250°F, but no higher than 325°F.
Always place a pan of hot water on the floor of the oven or place fruitcake pan in a tray half-filled with hot water to prevent the cakes from drying out or over-browning.
While baking, if the cake is browning too fast, place a sheet of foil the top of the cake.
Test for doneness with a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake. It will come out moist, but not doughy, when the cake is done.
When using greased pans, wait 10 minutes after removing the fruitcake from the oven before removing the cake from the pan to cool.
When using pans lined with brown or waxed paper wait until the cakes are cooled, turn them out of the pans and carefully peel off the paper.
For liquor-soaked cakes, refrigerate at least three weeks before eating to let it ripen.
After the fruitcake has completely cooled, wrap in several thicknesses of cheesecloth. Sprinkle the cheesecloth liberally with whatever liquor or wine was used in the recipe. Store in aluminum foil, plastic wrap or a plastic storage bag. Brandy or fruit juice may be poured on the cloth once a week.
Fruitcakes soaked in liquor can literally last for years if you periodically add more liquor. It is generally recommended that soaked fruitcakes be consumed within two years. Fruitcake should be tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator. Unwrap every few months and drizzle with liquor. Re-wrap tightly.
For very long storage, bury the liquor-soaked cake in powdered sugar and place in a tightly covered tin in a cool place (fruit cakes can be enjoyed as long as 25 years this way.) Check liquored-soaked cakes periodically and rewrap in liquor soaked cloth.
Before freezing, let it age at least 3 to 4 weeks first so it has a chance to build its flavor. However, they must be aged at least four weeks before freezing, as they do not mellow while they are frozen.
Fruitcakes can be frozen, its life is shorter than if refrigerated, only one year.
Frost cakes close to serving time (not ahead of time). Use a sugar-syrup glaze to brush on cakes for a shine and to adhere.
For easy slicing, the cake should be cold.
Slice cakes in a sawing motion using a knife with a sharp thin blade or a serrated knife.
Refreshen stale fruitcakes by gently heating pieces (microwave or steamer) and serve with a hard sauce, brandy sauce, glaze or desired topping.