With lots of dried fruits and nuts, this dense cake, adapted from Amanda Hesser’s Good Fruit Cake, comes out perfect because it is baked in a very low oven for about 1 ½ hours. Apparently, this is the secret to making a fruit cake that is not hard and chewy… and of course lots of good liqueur and/or brandy!
This is a dense fruitcake, full of flavor, that should be thinly sliced and enjoyed in moderation, maybe accompanied by cream, mascarpone, or thick yogurt.
Makes 2 Fruitcakes
Butter or olive oil for pans
2 pounds mixed fried fruit (pitted Medjool dates, prunes –preferably from Agen, candied pineapple, candied cherries and or cranberries, dried apricots etc)
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups mashed, baked butternut squash
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
½-1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ pounds mixed nuts (shelled pistachios, shelled almonds, shelled walnuts and/or pecans)
Maple syrup or warm honey to brush the cake
1/2 cup Armagnac, Grand Marnier or Brandy
Line two 9-inch pans with parchment paper, or one 9-inch square and one long cake pan and brush with butter or oil. Heat the oven to 275 F (140 C).
Combine the dried fruit in a bowl with cherries and orange jest. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift this over fruit. With your hands, toss to coat.
In medium bowl, preferably on a standing mixer, beat eggs with sugar until frothy. Add the squash and the vanilla extract and mix. Pour over the fruit.
With wooden spoon, mix very well. Fold in the pistachios, almonds, pecans and walnuts, and mix until coated with batter.
Divide the mixture between the pans. Using your hands, press to pack the batter very firmly and fill in open spaces.
Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the tops of cakes look dry but not brown. When the cakes are done, transfer to cooling racks. Let stand for 5 minutes, then release springform and peel off parchment paper on sides.
While cakes are still hot, brush lightly with syrup or honey. Let cool 30 minutes, then prick with a toothpick all over and spoon the Liqueur or Armagnac on top.
When completely cool, remove the cakes from pan base and peel off parchment paper on bottom.
It is advised not to eat right away but wrap the fruitcakes in plastic wrap and try them the next day.
They will keep for two months in refrigerator, their flavors getting even better.
Sprinkle with more Armagnac or liqueur before serving.