The Simple Tip For A Holiday Fruitcake People Will Actually Like

The idea that you could actually make a fruitcake taste good might seem impossible if you aren't a fan of the dessert. With fruitcake's reputation for having a dense texture, overabundance of candied fruits, and sometimes excessive sweetness, the dessert isn't exactly the star of most holiday dessert tables. But contrary to what you might assume, fruitcake can actually taste good. It all comes down to the fruit you use.

Most fruitcakes call for using store-bought candied fruit — the kind that comes in a tub and tends to look more like candy than actual fruit with its shades of bright red and green. Also known as glacé fruit, this fruitcake mix-in is commonly made with cherries, pineapple, and orange and lemon peel that are preserved in sugar syrup for up to a month. This process results in a very sugary, artificial flavor. While it may be the traditional fruitcake ingredient, swapping it for dried fruit instead will give your dessert a more natural, balanced flavor that people will be more likely to enjoy.

How to substitute dried fruit for candied fruit in a fruitcake

Candied fruits and dried fruits have a somewhat similar chewy texture, but unlike candied fruits, dried fruits are not preserved in sugar syrup, but rather dehydrated or dried in an oven. Because there is little to no added sugar, dried fruit isn't nearly as sweet as candied fruit, but it also isn't as moist.

Despite these differences, dried fruit can still be substituted one to one for the candied fruit in a fruitcake. However, because dried fruit is much drier than candied fruit, you'll want to soak it in rum or brandy, or Early Grey tea for a booze-free option, for a minimum of 24 hours. This step is important because if your fruit is too dry, during baking it'll leech any moisture from the liquid ingredients you add to your cake batter. As a result, the fruit inside will be plump, but the cake will turn out dry. To prevent this from happening, try to use half-dried fruit if you can manage to find it, as it'll still contain some of its own natural moisture.

Consider using homemade candied fruit

If you're used to fruitcakes made with pre-made candied fruit, keep in mind that dried fruit won't give you that same classic flavor. For most people, that's probably a good thing, but if you're aiming for a more traditional taste that people would still want to eat, consider opting for homemade candied fruit. It will still yield the sweet candied taste associated with fruitcake, but it won't taste as artificial or overwhelmingly sugary.

This is because when you make candied fruit from scratch, you're able to control both the quality of the fruit you use as well as the sweetness. The process is also relatively simple and involves boiling the fruit in water, simmering it in syrup until it achieves the desired candied texture, and then carefully drying it before giving it a coating of sugar. When you add the resulting candied fruit into your fruitcake batter, it'll result in a significant improvement in taste.