Why this is my favorite fruitcake: I love to see the expressions of my friends’ faces change when I offer them a piece of this cake and then they taste it–like Mikey, they like it!! It’s really just plain dried fruit, macerated in liquor or orange juice, along with a few other wholesome ingredients. I make this all year round, it makes for a nice coffee or tea break snack. You can make this in a loaf pan, for tradition, but also in an 8″ x 8″ baking pan.
butter or oil, for greasing the baking vessel
4 c mixed dried fruit, chopped if necessary
1/2 c crystallized ginger, optional, but really makes this cake; or 1/2 c more dried fruit
1 c brandy, scotch, run, vodka, orange juice, grapefruit juice, or a combination
1 c water, or if you’re really bold, another cup of whatever liquor or juice you used
1 T grated orange zest; or grapefruit zest
1 1/4 c whole grain flour (I like white whole wheat)
3/4 c (mixed) chopped nuts
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 – 1 t cinnamon
1/8 t ground allspice, cloves, or nutmeg, or throw in a pinch of each
a pinch of salt
2 T butter, softened, or 2 T oil
1/4 c molasses
1. Grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan or other suitable baking vessel. Put the fruit, ginger, if using, liquid, and zest in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let cool for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine flour, nuts, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the 2 T butter, eggs, and molasses, until thick, about 4 or 5 minutes. An electric beater is good here, it might thicken a little faster. Don’t use the electric beater after this stage.
4. Drain the fruit. Press down on the fruit to extract as much liquid as you can. Reserve the liquid for your next fruitcake or for other uses. Add fruit to egg mixture and stir to combine. Add flour mixture in three batches, stirring, by hand, until just combined–don’t beat it. Pour into prepared baking pan. Put the pan on a baking sheet and put into oven.
5. Bake for an hour to an hour and a quarter, until the sides of the cake pull away from the pan and an inserted toothpick comes out with only a tiny bit of crumb on it. Cool in the pan, then invert onto a plate (or not–you can keep it in the pan). Turn right side up and wrap in foil or wax paper. It’ll keep at room temperature, wrapped, for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long.
6. If you want, you can also drizzle on a bit of the soaking liquid before slicing or on slices–a nod to tradition.