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Why You Should Never Skip Soaking Fruit For Fruitcake

food, why you should never skip soaking fruit for fruitcake

a person grabbing fruit cake from a plate

From its festive toppings to its rich, spice-infused flavor, just smelling a fruit cake baking can instantly teleport you to the most magical time of the year. However, there’s one iron-clad rule you need to know before you try to bake this traditional sweet at home.

Sure, it’s true that eating a slice of perfectly prepared candied fruitcake can make you hungry for more, but dining on a bad piece of this holiday staple will make you understand why “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson once said, “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world and people keep passing it around” (per Southern Living).

So what’s the key to baking a fruitcake that inspires holiday wonder instead of culinary horror? It all comes down to making sure your cake doesn’t come out as hard and dry as the mail-order fruitcakes popularized at the beginning of the 20th century that inspired the U.S.’s animosity towards the timeless Christmas sweet (via Smithsonian), and Southern Living states that soaking this holiday staple’s fruit is the key to ensuring you always make a rich-tasting fruitcake.

How Not Soaking Your Fruit Will Ruin Your Fruitcake

food, why you should never skip soaking fruit for fruitcake

dried fruit on a gray background

Southern Living reports that the main culprit responsible for drying out your fruitcake is usually the recipe’s dried fruit. As the outlet notes, because water is attracted to dry ingredients when you bake your cake the moisture that should stay in your batter will be absorbed by the dried fruit. To prevent this, you have to soak your dried fruit before dropping it into your cake mix.

In order to ensure your fruitcake tastes fresh, Southern Living suggests leaving your dried fruit to soak in a flavorful liquid like rum or apple juice for a minimum of 24 hours. However, the longer you allow the ingredient to soak, the more moist your cake will be.

For example, PepperOnPizza states that many holiday cooks start soaking their fruit in the first weeks of September to get ready to bake a fruit cake by November’s end. But so long as you prepare your fruit by soaking it a full day in advance, your cake will come out beautifully moist. All you have to do afterwards is make sure it stays that way.

According to PepperOnPizza, layering your alcohol of choice onto this holiday dish will keep it from drying out before your family has a chance to enjoy fruitcake the way it was meant to be eaten — rich and moist.

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