Yeah, I know, I've heard how fruitcake is nasty—a hiss and a by-word, the butt of holiday jokes. However, when I was young, it was quite edible—depending. There is hardly anyone under 40 who has even tasted one.
This one is good, if you like that sort of thing. I do. I'm a huge fan of well prepared banana nut bread. This also has nuts. It's moist, but you'd never know there is applesauce in it. It's just a fruitcake, only good-tasting.
|1 cup||chopped mixed candied fruit|
|½ cup||dried apples, finely chopped|
|½ cup||dried apricots, finely chopped|
|1 cup||chopped pecans|
|1 cup||chopped walnuts|
|1 cup||butter, cubed|
|2 cups||sugar (up to 1 cup brown if desired)|
|2 tsp||vanilla, rum extract or combination|
|1 tsp||nutmeg, ground|
|1 tsp||cloves, ground|
|1 tsp||baking soda|
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Pre-butter and flour a large ring or wreath cake (bundt) pan.
2. Effectuate the mise en place* of all ingredients according the groups established by the list above. Mix the first set together in a big bowl and the last set together in another bowl.
If you can avoid losing track of what spices you've already measured, you can just add them all to the bowl with the 1½ cups of flour, baking soda and salt since all of that gets mixed in at the same time (at the end). Just don't forget any spices or the baking soda.
Notice that you mix (a different) 1 cup of flour with the first set of (nuts, candied fruit, etc.) which you toss to keep them from clumping together. This is a total of 2½ cups of flour.
3. Cream butter and sugar well, add eggs, then applesauce and vanilla/rum. I use a big KitchenAid® with the paddle beater.
4. Combine the flour and spice mixture into the bowl containing butter, eggs and applesauce. This may begin to ignite the baking soda, so don't fall asleep on this instruction. Proceed to the next instruction.
5. Fold nuts and fruits into the rest of the batter and pour immediately into the cake pan and then put it in the oven. Bake for at least 60 minutes or until caramelizing (browning) nicely (and darkly) on top and you can insert and withdraw a toothpick cleanly. At my (higher) altitude, I found 70 minutes to be about perfect.
6. Cool while you trim the rough edges around, cover with a plate (the plate you wish to serve it from), then up-end it and remove the pan from the cake. Cool completely.
Sometimes it's very hard to get out of the bundt pan. What I do is let it cool completely, say overnight in my garage which, at this time of year, is pretty cold. Then, I fire up my (gas) cooktop burner and hold the pan over the flames moving it around so as to heat up the pan which will melt the fats in the cake next to the pan on the inside. Then, holding it with two hot pads, I turn it upside-down over the plate I'm going to deliver it on. This usually releases the cake so well that no chunks of cake will stick to the pan.
If you eat it within a couple of days, you will not need to cover it (even in a dry, Utah climate) as it's arguably better as it loses some of its moisture.
You can frost this if you wish. I eat it as is with a tall glass of cold milk; I like a very light sprinkling of powdered sugar.
* mise en place: prepare all ingredients in suitable bowls, plates, etc. set out so that once you begin, you aren't searching the cupboards for anything.
| The mise en place of spices...
||Mixing fruit and nuts to set aside...|
| The fruit and nuts are "powdered"
| The mise en place is almost complete
for five cakes; I will finish by parceling
out bowls of flour, sugar, appesauce, etc.