Some baked goods are intended to be eaten as soon as possible, while they're fresh and delicate. Others, such as holiday fruitcakes, are better after aging for weeks or months. Rich, dark fruitcakes, well soaked in brandy, might be the longest-lasting of all baked goods. When properly prepared and stored, they can remain food safe and flavorful for years or decades.
Soaking and Storing
For the first several days after the fruitcake is baked, it should be brushed or lightly drizzled with brandy and then wrapped in cheesecloth or fine muslin -- a piece of an old pillowcase will do, if you sterilize it first -- soaked in the same brandy. Repeat this process once or twice each week for the first four to six weeks, keeping the cake in an airtight bag or plastic wrapper between soakings. Continue adding brandy to the cake every month for up to a year, if you wish.
For years or decades of shelf life, line the bottom of a deep, airtight cake tin or food storage container with powdered sugar. Nestle the cake and its muslin wrapper into the sugar, then cover it with more sugar. Seal the tin and keep it in a cool, dark place until you're ready to serve the cake. The cake and its fruit will continue to improve in flavor with the passage of time.
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Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.
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