Stop right there! I know what you’re thinking but bear me out. Everybody likes cake, right? And everybody likes fruit, right? Then why does almost everybody hate fruitcake?
I believe I have solved this age-old question. The answer, my friends, is that everybody hates that ersatz glaceed fruit and and that phony liquor taste that almost all fruitcake is afflicted with.
So here is a fruitcake recipe that I have made for years and that even the most ardent fruitcake-hater has eaten with approval (if not actually loved).
One more note—why am I giving you this recipe now? The answer is very simple: if you make this fruitcake recipe this week it will have just enough time to season by Christmas.
Makes 10 5-by-3-by-2 inch loaves
3 cups unsweetened applesauce, preferably homemade
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1¼ cups sugar
½ cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 box (15 ounces) golden raisins
1 box (15 ounces) dark raisins
1 cup dried currants
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped (about ½ pound)
2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped (about ½ pound)
4½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
½ tsp. mace (optional)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cloves
Walnut and pecan halves, for garnish
½ cup brandy, bourbon, or rum
- Heat the applesauce over moderate heat in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and stir until the butter is melted and the applesauce is bubbling (4 to 5 minutes).
- Add the sugar, molasses, and honey and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves (about 1 minute). Let the applesauce cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 275°F. Butter and flour ten 5-by-3-by-2-inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine the golden and dark raisins, currants, cherries, apricots, walnuts, and pecans with applesauce.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, cloves, and optional mace into a medium bowl. Fold into the applesauce-fruit mixture until just blended. Quickly divide the batter among the pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula dipped in water. Press walnut and pecan halves into the tops to decorate.
- Bake the fruitcakes for 60 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for one hour. Unmold them onto a rack and let cool to room temperature. Brush the brandy, bourbon, or rum all over the fruitcakes. Wrap tightly first in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil. Store in a cool, dry place for at least one week and up to three months.
After the first week you may unwrap the cakes and baste with additional brandy, bourbon, or rum. Re-wrap and let season after basting for at least one week.