Monday, November 28, 2005

Fruitcakes people will actually want to eat

How do I know? Because the s.o. and I snarfed one of them last night. They are delicious, and there's none of that creepy glacé fruit to be found.

These are made sans nuts because we have a couple of people in the family with allergies. You could, of course, add as many nuts as you like. I think pecans would be the best.

Makes 10 mini loaves (mine were about 5 1/2 x 3 1/2, but slightly smaller ones would work, too)

1 lb. raisins
1/2 lb. dried cherries
1/2 lb. dried figs, quartered
1/2 lb. dried apricots, quartered
brandy as needed
butter, shortening, or oil for greasing pans
1/2 lb. candied citrus peel, chopped fine
1/4 lb. candied ginger, chopped fine
1 lb. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. ground Ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. brown sugar
2 Tbs. molasses
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
8 eggs
brandy for brushing the cakes

Soak the raisins, cherries, figs, and apricots overnight in brandy to cover.
When you're ready to start baking, grease 10 mini loaf pans and line them with waxed paper. You may want to group them on jelly roll pans to make it easier to move them around.
Place a pan of water on the bottom oven rack and preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Drain the fruit that has been soaking. Combine it in a very large bowl with the candied citrus and ginger, flour, spices, and salt. Mix well to coat everything with flour.
Cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the molasses and lemon rind, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
Oh-so-carefully fold the butter mixture into the giant bowl of floured fruit. Divide the batter among the 10 pans and gently smooth the tops.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until edges are a little crispy and a skewer inserted in the middle of a cake comes out clean. If you use larger pan(s), you may need to bake them for as long as 3 hours.
Immediately tip cakes out of pans and peel away the waxed paper. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Brush on all sides with brandy (or wrap in brandy-soaked cheesecloth), then wrap tightly and store. Will keep for several weeks if you continue to replenish the brandy.