Yeah, I have never been a fan of fruitcake. I suspect there are other’s out there not a fan. Partially because it is popular culture to not like the dense, heavy, dry fruit and nutted loaf, that has been reported to have the endurance and longevity of cockroaches after a nuclear winter… and partly because …well… you haven't (read: “I haven’t”) found one of any particular delight.
What does any good chef or home cook do when they create or modify a recipe? They inject their own personal favorite flavors and techniques. That is exactly what I did with my fruitcake. Drawing on brighter flavors like fresh microplaned Meyer Lemon zest, roasted and salted pistachios along with walnuts, ground cardamom seeds mixed with a few crunchy whole cardamom seeds, candied dates and of course the “in technicolor” and overly sweet red candied cherries for a little authenticity. A bonus and extra flavor punch was the addition of Luxardo liqueur. Easily omitted if you don’t care for libation in your holiday loaves.
The batter is thick and lighter in color than I had imagined. Perfect for popping the colors of the fruit and nuts, and able to hold and suspend the heavier pieces throughout the cake. I could easily fill two eight cup loaf pans, but split up my batter between one loaf pan, and one of my fancier bundt/mold cake pans.
Ingredients: Makes Two Deep Loaf Pans
1 pound (four sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temp
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons ground cardamom seed
(I also broke apart two whole cardamom pods and added the whole seeds for extra bite/flavor)
Zest of one large Meyer Lemon (about 2 tablespoons) , microplaned
Juice of one large Meyer Lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons Luxardo liqueur (optional. Try any favorite spirit or liqueur... or milk!)
8 ounces dried candied red cherries (not wet maraschino cherries, but dried and sticky cherries)
8 ounces dried Apricots, quartered
1/2 cup candied dates, rough chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup walnuts, rough chopped
3/4 cup roasted/salted pistachio meats (no, not with shells) rough chopped
- Rinse of the stickiness and extra color from your candied dried cherries, and lay out on a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and butter/baking spray the inside of your loaf pans or cake ring pan. Add all the dried fruit and nuts to one large mixing bowl and grab a sturdy spoon or rubber spatula.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, and then beat in one egg at a time until all had been incorporated.
- In another bowl measure out your flour and add the cardamom seeds. In a smaller bowl or cup add the Meyer lemon juice, vanilla extract, and Luxardo. We’re going to work in batches with dry to wet when mixing. Add about a cup of the flour and slowly mix in to combine, followed up with a good slurp of the liquid combination. Keep doing this until the flour and liquid are used up and fully mixed in to the batter. Scrape down your bow, sides and bottom, give it another good mix, and off to the dried nut and fruit bowl.
- Pour the cake batter over the top of the dried fruit and nuts. With a sturdy spoon or rubber spat, begin folding together the two. Evenly disperse the dried into the wet batter. You should have dried fruits and nuts in every single bite.
- Spoon in the fruitcake batter evenly, making sure to tap down on the counter to really get that batter to fill in the bottom and even out. Fill to about 1/2 inch from the top rim of your pan.
- Bake SLOWLY for approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Check for donees like you with your other cakes, with a bamboo stick toothpick or your own creation of a cake tester. Remove from the oven when ready and let cook on a cake rack.
- Options, and I’ll leave this up too you: The loaves, I left dry on top… no dusting, glaze, or soak. I love the flavor of the cake sliced like a loaf, and enjoyed with hot tea or coffee. Plus if you’re adding these to your holiday bake gift giving, wrapping in plastic wrap without a glaze is much easier. Now with the cake baked in a cake ring or bundt pan, I like it jazzed up a bit. Dust with powdered sugar and maybe extra dried dried fruit, or make a powdered sugar glaze with Luxardo to drizzle over the top.