Do you have leftover fruitcake from the holidays that is old
and dry by now? There's hope for it after all! Fruitcake goes
stale because it appears to lose its moisture, but the starch
in the cake has simply absorbed it.
To resuscitate the cake, just melt the starch crystals. Wrap
it in aluminum foil and slowly warm in an oven to 200 degrees
(starch begins to lose its crystalline character at 130 de-
grees). This melts the crystals, releases the water, and re-
freshes the dry fruitcake.
Fruitcakes, if well-wrapped and stored in airtight tins, are
reputed to remain enjoyable for as long as 25 years and some
would say they taste better the longer they sit. The dried
fruits in the cake can actually age much like wine ages over
time. The cakes are saturated with alcoholic liquors to keep
down mold (and, of course, to taste better). Chemicals known
as tannins present in the fruit of the cake, which are also
found in grapes and are part of the aging process in red wine,
seep into the cake, chemically changing it to create intense
and distinct flavor compounds. The longer the cake sits, the
more varied and intense the flavors become.
Please let me know if you have ever tasted a fruitcake that
is 25 years old.