With this recipe I am hoping to rehabilitate the Christmas Fruitcake’s much maligned reputation. This is a moist cake, courtesy of applesauce, and redolent of spices, dried fruit, and nuts. It does need to “cure” for 24 hours for maximum flavor, though it’s still delicious eaten when just cooled. This will keep for several weeks, well wrapped, in the refrigerator, though I (and Julia Child) would be surprised if this cake is around for that long…

A loaf pan is traditional for fruitcake, but you can use other baking vessels. I like to make this in an 8- by 8-inch square pan, with an adjustment in baking time.

2 c dried fruit–a combination, if possible
1 1/2 c flour, whole grain, white, or a combination
3/4 c brown sugar
1 t ground cloves
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground allspice
1 t salt
1 c nuts, toasted
1 T baking powder
4 T butter, melted, or coconut oil, or a neutral vegetable oil
1 c thick applesauce or apple butter (quince sauce is delish here!!)

1. Butter a baking vessel. Line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the upward surface of the paper. Set an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Toss the dried fruit with the flour(s) in a large mixing bowl. Make sure the dried fruit pieces are coated with flour–this will keep them from clumping together in the cake. Add the sugar, spices, nuts, and baking powder, stirring well.

3. Mix the melted butter with the applesauce, then add to the flour mixture. Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about an hour and a half in a loaf pan, less in a shallower baking pan.

4. When the cake is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, it’s done. Cool on a rack, then tightly wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 hours before serving. Refrigerate for longer storage.