How To Make Sure You Don't Overbake Fruitcake

For a long time, fruitcake has had a bad reputation. Thrillist speculates that fruitcake's history as the butt of the joke dates back to the 1960s when Johnny Carson first joked that there was only one in the world that was eternally regifted. Fruit cakes have a long and colorful history though as an indulgent treat meant for royalty, and it's about time they returned to their rightful glory.

According to Martha Stewart, fruitcake's origins date back to 16th century England when the cake was first baked in celebration of the end of the Christmas season. The process of preparing the many ingredients and soaking the dried fruit was a laborious process, so it was only reserved for once a year. The end result was a rich combination of the finest products available at the time. Rich spices, nuts, candied fruits, alcohol, fat, and sugar were all mixed into one single celebratory loaf and shared among loved ones. Strong and exotic flavors like ginger and rum were frequently used ingredients. It was even well-loved by Queen Victoria who demonstrated her willpower by famously letting her fruitcake age for a week before digging in.

Thrillist says that by the 20th century though, fruitcakes had become mass-produced, obligatory holiday gifts that were dense bricks compared to their forebears.

Keep the heat low and monitor moisture

If you're hoping to bring back this holiday tradition, or just want a decadent treat for any other time of year, then it's important that you don't overbake your fruitcake. Otherwise, you'll be left with the same worthless clump of fruit that people dread receiving.

According to Southern Living, one important step to avoid this is to soak your dried fruit ingredients. Moisture tends to go to the driest space, and in a fruitcake that is the fruit. To avoid this, the fruits need to be submerged in liquid for at least a day, but for as long as a month. This way, the moisture will stay in your cake instead of trying to reconstitute your fruit.

What's Cooking America adds that fruitcakes should be cooked at lower temperatures than other cakes as well. Your oven should be set no higher than 325 to prevent the cake from drying out. It also helps to add a tray of water to your oven's lower shelves as well. This will add more moisture to the air, and prevent your cake from coming out overly dry, and overcooked. Switching up your cooking fat is an easy way to ensure a perfectly moist fruitcake and may also help provide a lighter, more luscious crumb. 

With all of these tips combined, you can easily resurrect the fruitcake's struggling reputation, and return it to its rightful seat as a royal pleasure.