The Easiest Way To Ensure Perfectly Moist Fruitcake

If someone told you today that their favorite cake was a fruitcake, you might find it odd. Fruitcakes have gained a bad rap for being hard, dry, and so chock full of nuts and berries you're prone to breaking a tooth. Most people gifted a fruitcake on Christmas are more likely to use it as a doorstopper than to eat it. But fruitcake wasn't always so widely despised. According to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) fruitcake, which is typically made from a grain like flour or barley, honey, wine, and fruit, was widely consumed by the Romans and considered a popular leavened cake throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. 

Fruitcakes were a fantastic dessert to keep around the house because they were often soaked in liquor, which killed off some of the bacteria and extended its shelf life. Unfortunately, as lighter, sweeter, and less textured cakes became popular, the fruitcake began to fall out of favor. However, if you want to indulge in some warmly spiced rum and ginger fruitcake this year, there are ways to ensure it doesn't dry out and become a disappointing holiday treat.

Butter isn't always best

Here's the deal: Regardless of what kind of cake you're baking, you don't want it to turn out dry — but you especially don't want your fruitcake to dry out because it is already dense and will be impossible to chew through. One of the easiest ways to naturally make your crumb lighter and more moist is by replacing the butter with oil. According to Epicurious, oil is naturally lighter than butter and by switching out the ingredients, your cake is lighter in texture. Additionally, oil is 100% fat, unlike butter, and will create a more tender crumb, which is essential to a fruitcake. As for what kind of oil you should use in your cake, look no further than the household classic: canola oil. 

La Tourangelle suggests using canola to bake your cakes with. It has a subtle flavor that won't overwhelm even your most delicate cakes and has the desired moist texture you need. However, there is a caveat. Canola oil's smoke point is at 425 degrees Fahrenheit so do not use this particular oil if your recipe calls for baking your cake at or over that temperature. 

Truly, there is nothing wrong with a butter-filled cake — just take a bite of pound cake to confirm — but Bon Appétit says that overall, vegetable oil maintains a lot more moisture in the batter and will help retain it after the cake has been baked better than butter-based cakes.