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Kresge's Light Fruit Cake

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Christmas fruit cake. It is a “love it” or “loathe it” kind of a thing.  I am from the “love it” camp myself.  All the Christmas’s of my childhood contained at least two fruit cakes, a light one and a dark one.

The Christmas Catalogue used to have options where you could buy a ready-made fruit cake, the tops of them highly decorated with nuts and glace fruit, decoratively placed and beautifully glazed.

My mom would often buy a slab of fruit cake and make us a delicious War Cake to enjoy as well.   We loved both.  Mom’s War Cake was lovely and moist and filled with large sticky raisins. You can find the recipe for that here.

Most of the department stores had their own versions of fruitcake as well, with the most popular one being the ones offered at S. S. Kresge.  Kresge’s was an American department store, at one time being the largest discount retail stores in America.  It was renamed Kmart in 1977 and later evolved into the Sears Holdings Corporation, after Kmart bought out Sears.
In any case they were famous at Christmas for both their light and their dark fruitcakes. My sister had a recipe that she got from her late MIL for their light fruitcake, which she had lost, but which she said was the best fruitcake ever.  
 I did a search for her and came up with two recipes, one for a light cake and one for a dark.

I have already baked my dark fruit cake, or Christmas Cake as it is known over here. That is a recipe I am very happy with and not likely to ever change. You can find that recipe here.  It is excellent.

I was very keen however to try the light fruit cake recipe and so this week I did.  It called for 2 pounds of Kresge Extra Fancy Mix, which I assumed was a mix of candied and dried fruits.

I used glace cherries (in three colours), glace pineapple, dried apricots and chopped glace citrus peels.  I prefer to buy my citrus peels whole and chop them myself. I always buy all of my glace fruits from Buy Whole Foods Online.  They have the best assortment to choose from and their prices are quite reasonable.  I have never had any problem with their delivery or packaging either. 

I always rinse my glace cherries in hot water and then dry them before using them.  That’s what Delia Smith does and I just figure if she does, then it must be an important thing to do!
I also used dried apricots and I cut them into chunks.  I didn’t see any need to chop the pecans.  I did toast them first.
I was very pleased with how the fruit cake came out.  It is really jam packed full of fruit and nuts.

It cuts beautifully with a serrated knife, and keeps beautifully wrapped tightly and stored in an airtight container.

I am gifting one to a friend and Todd, believe it or not, has already made short work of half of the one I am keeping.  I’m hiding the rest of it so that we have it for Christmas!!
Kresge’s Light Holiday Fruit Cake
Yield: Makes 2 loaves
This light fruit cake is jam packed with plenty of fruit and nuts. Makes one loaf for keeping and one for giving away.
  • 150g butter (2/3 cup)
  • 125g granulated sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 2 large free-range eggs beaten
  • 240ml fruit juice or water (I used fresh orange juice)
  • 60ml liquid honey (1/4 cup)
  • 280g flour, sifted (2 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 910g extra fancy mixed glace fruit (2 pounds) (I used a mix of glace cherries, glace citrus peels, glace pineapple and dried apricots)
  • 150g raisins (1 cup)
  • 60g whole pecans (1/2 cup)
  • 140g additional flour (1 cup)
instructions:How to cook Kresge’s Light Holiday Fruit Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 135*C/275*F.  Butter two 3 1/2 ” by 7 1/2″ loaf tins and line with waxed or baking paper, leaving 1/2 inch of paper to extend beyond the edges of the tins all round.  Set aside.
  2. Rinse and dry your glace cherries. Place into a bowl.  Chop the citrus peels into small bits.  I used  combination of grapefruit, pomelo, orange and lemon peels. Cut the glace pineapple into chunks.  Chop the dried apricots. Put the citrus, apricots and pineapple into the bowl with the cherries.  Add the pecans and raisins. Mix together and then stir in the flour to coat it all well.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together well.  Beat in the eggs and then stir in the fruit juice and honey. It will look well curdled, but don’t worry about it.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir into the creamed mixture to combine well and then fold in the floured fruit/nut mixture.  Spoon the batter into the two prepared loaf tins, dividing it equally.  Do not smooth down or press into place.
  4. Place a cake tin filled with 480ml/2 cups water on the bottom rack of the oven.  Place the loaf tins onto a baking sheet and place into the oven on the rack above the water. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours,  or until the cakes are firm on top and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean with no batter clinging.  Store in an airtight container.
Did you make this recipe?
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Created using The Recipes Generator

I don’t think my photos really do this lovely cake justice.  It looks very jewel-like when cut up.  Colour me very happy with it!  I will make again! 
So what about you, are you a “love it” or a “loathe it” fruit cake person?

Debunking the myths of English Cookery, one recipe at a time.
The English Kitchen


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