I spent two months making a fruitcake. This was perhaps not the wisest choice, as not only have I never made any fruitcake before, I’ve never even eaten one.
But when my pre-ordered copy of Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz arrived on my doorstep and I came upon this recipe I knew I had to give it a shot. The introduction warns that it needs to be started in October to be ready for the holidays as it takes two months to make, so it was perfect that I had the book in my hands almost exactly 8 weeks before Christmas.
Of course I can’t share the recipe with you here, but if you’re looking to take this on you can find the book at many a book store or here on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3rljelE. (This is an affiliate link, we may earn a commission from your purchase
First up I had to track down all the ingredients, of which there were many! This definitely isn’t a cheap cake to make. After gathering everything it was time to bake! This part wasn’t too difficult, though this recipe makes two 9-inch cakes which wound up being a whole lot of batter. My six-quart mixer was very full, so I’m not sure how well smaller mixers would handle it. You’d probably end up having to do things in batches.
After baking and cooling, the cakes got to spend two months hanging out in a cabinet while I poured brandy on each of them once a week. (#goals) This part also wasn’t really difficult, though I did have a hard time finding a way to store the two cakes. I wound up having to keep them stacked on top of each other in a cake carrier, which I think resulted in one of them cracking a good bit because I had to handle it more during the whole process.
Finally, we reached the weekend before Christmas and it was time to finish the cakes. They were supposed to get a layer of jam, then marzipan, and then royal icing. This is where things got REAL BAD. I couldn’t find marzipan in any local stores, and everything online was crazy over-priced or wouldn’t get here in time, so I had to make my own using the almond paste we did manage to find in the store.
There are apparently a whole lot of ways to make marzipan! And the one I chose was apparently A Bad One. Everything seemed fine when I mixed it all up, but as I tried to roll it out and cover the cakes it just kept getting worse and worse. It stuck to the parchment paper I used to roll it out, it fell apart as I tried to place it on the cake, it ripped as I tried to patch things up. It was just all bad. This is probably my biggest complaint for the recipe – I wish there had been some sort of guidance on the marzipan like a recipe or something! I’m sure I’m not the only person who might not be able to find marzipan easily so knowing what kind of recipe to look for would’ve been helpful.
I finally got it somewhat covered in marzipan after having a few meltdowns and called it a night. The cakes were supposed to sit out and dry before they got their final icing covering, getting flipped partway through so the top and bottom would both dry. I flipped them over the next morning after they had sat out for a few hours and surprise! the marzipan stuck again, raspberry jam having soaked through part of it. At this point I was distressed yet again, but had to proceed ahead since I had no marzipan alternatives to cover it with.
Post-marzipan things went pretty okay. The royal icing turned out really well! I had wanted to pipe some pretty designs but had to settle for just spreading it since I was dealing with the very temperamental marzipan covering underneath that wanted to tear at every touch. After that it had to dry and I finally got to try it!
It was really good! It is a ridiculously rich cake, like the tiniest slice is very filling so I totally see how each of these cakes is supposed to be like 20 servings.
So I guess the big question is would I make this cake again? Maybe! I really enjoyed the challenge of this recipe, even if a lot of things went wrong towards the end. I think this would be a really fun thing to bust out for a holiday party, but I would definitely not make it again in a year where holiday gatherings are limited to video calls. Originally I had only planned for us to eat one of the cakes this year and to save the other for next year, but with all the marzipan issues I had I don’t feel like the cake is fully safe for that so we’ll be digging into that one this year too. So if you’re in the market for some fruitcake, we can definitely hook it up!
Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz: https://amzn.to/3rljelE (affiliate link)