As Julia Child notes, "[t]his cake isn't sticky at all, but it started out that way during my first experiements, and the name has remained, as a family joke."1 And thus began my first experiment with fruitcake. I've made panforte and convinced my fruitcakephobic family to relish that, and Child's fruitcake seemed like good introduction to fruitcake (she has yet to fail me, from pastry to roast chicken).
The fruitcake began with me making mixed peel: I blanched lemon and orange peel in water and then cooked them in syrup (I wasn't about to buy the overly processed peel at a grocery store, and I've never seen the higher quality stuff of which British pastry chefs talk).
The base is four pounds of peel and fruit: I used the aforementioned candied orange and lemon peel plus raisins, sultanas, zante currants, figs, candied ginger, sour cherries preserved in alcohol, unsulfured apricots, and prunes. This sits overnight with a pound of nuts (I used pecans and walnuts), a pound of mincemeat (I used some from Dan Lepard's recipe: I should have made it a month ago, but this'll be fine — and now I'll have mince for a Christmas pie), ⅔ c. rum, ⅓ c. bourbon, 1 tbsp. espresso, ¼ c. molasses, and a mix of 1 tsp. cardamom, ½ tsp. each cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and mace, and 1½ tsp. salt.
Above left is what that looks like after 24 hours of maceration, above left is tossed with 3½ c. flour with 1 tbsp. baking powder.
To that mixture is added ½ lb. butter that was creamed with 2 c. sugar, ⅓ c. brown sugar, 2 tbsp. vanilla and six eggs. This is then spooned into buttered and floured tins lined with parchement. I ended up with four loaves a little under a pound each, one toping two pounds and a sixth weighing in at almost three-and-a-half pounds (the smaller caked baked for 80 minutes, the larger for 120-130).
These smell lovely. I sprinkled more bourbon and rum atop, wrapped them up, and we'll see how they are in a month (if I can wait)!
1Julia Child, From Julia Child's Kitchen (New York: Grammercy, 1975), 583.