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NOT Your Store-Bought Fruitcake

Fruitcake need not be that green cherry-studdded, ultrasweet concoction you may think it is. Au contraire! It can be an ambrosial confection rich and flavorsome.

What?  You don’t like fruitcake?  You find them dry and inedible?  Fruit cakes have something of a bad rap, obviously the result of a nasty rumor circulated by people who have only eaten store-bought fruitcakes. Maybe it’s those neon-green cherries adorning so many of them. However, they can be moist, brandy-soaked and, well, addictive.  In many countries, in fact, fruit cake is the traditional choice for the wedding cake.  Store it in a tight-lidded tin and feel free to anoint it with more brandy from time to time.  Chances are, however, it won’t last more than a day or two.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cup brown sugar (I prefer light brown)
4 large eggs
2 T molasses
1 t vanilla extract
¼ t fiori di sicilia (optional)
2 cups flour
1 t ground allspice
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
½ t ground cloves
½ t ground nutmeg
½ t salt
2 T brandy
¼ cup blanched almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup sultanas
1 cup currants
½ cup candied red cherries
½ cup chopped candied citrus peel

Procedure
Cream together butter and brown sugar until light.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add molasses, vanilla and fiori di sicilia.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt.  Mix into creamed sugar.  Add brandy, almonds, pecans, raisins, sultanas, currants, candied cherries and candied citrus peel. 

Pour into a 10” round or bread loaf pan and bake for one hour.  When done, run a knife around edge of pan and turn onto a wire rack to cool.

With a small pastry brush, paint with brandy and wrap with a washed cheesecloth soaked in brandy.  Keep in a tightly closed container.  Resoak with brandy from time to time.  The cake improves with age.  Another option is to paint the top with an apricot glaze and decorate it with candied fruit.

(Adapted from Scott Woolley’s Cakes by Design)

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