Actually edible fruitcake (no, really)

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

  1. 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).
  2. Add the sugar, molasses, and honey and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves (about 1 minute). Let the applesauce cool to room temperature.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

1 comment… add one
  • Sara Finison Link

    Great recipe! Thanks. I improvised a bit and used what I had on hand.
    I made it without the honey and substituted raw Hawaiian sugar for the white sugar. For fruits, I used dried apples, apricots, currants, and raisins. I packed the cakes in cheesecloth and plastic wrap. The applesauce and lack of eggs and candied fruit make it seem at least somewhat healthy, which is a nice thing around holiday time, when the glut of “unhealthy” treats can prove tempting.

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