When I was growing up, I always thought fruitcake was this nasty brick full of dyed fruits that people sent you when they didn't like you very much. I mean, the fruitcake is definitely the butt of a ridiculous amount of mockery, and it's hard not to absorb that as a child. So I never ate a bite of fruitcake growing up. It wasn't until I actually knew someone who wanted me to make them one and was willing to vouch for its deliciousness that I dared to try it. And you know what? It's actually pretty good, provided you use actual dried fruit and not neon-colored chemistry experiments. And like any good recipe, you can use whatever fruit you like (I'm thinking maybe some dried mango or papaya? cranberries instead of cherries?), as long as you try to stick to the general vicinity of the recipe.
Note: I actually made half of this recipe and cooked it up in a 9x5-inch loaf pan. The baking time was about half. So, if you don't have an army of fruitcake lovers hovering at the kitchen door, this is an option. I eyeballed the half an egg. Grease the pan really well so the cake doesn't stick.
Adapted from Southern Living: 1990 Annual Recipes
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
7 large eggs, separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ pounds diced candied pineapple (about 3 cups)
1 pound dried tart cherries (about 2 cups)
¼ pound diced candied orange peel (about ½ cup)
½ pound golden raisins (about 1½ cups)
3 cups pecan halves
1 cup black walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup brandy
Make a liner for a 10-inch tube-pan by drawing a circle with an 18-inch diameter on a piece of brown paper. Cut out circle; set pan in center, and draw around base of pan and inside tube. Fold circle into eighths, having the drawn lines on the outside. Cut off tip end of circle along inside drawn line. Unfold paper; cut along folds to the outside drawn line. From another piece of brown paper, cut another circle with a 10-inch diameter; grease and set aside. Place the 18-inch liner in pan; grease and set aside.
Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Stir in flavorings. Beat egg yolks; alternately add yolks and 3 cups flour to creamed mixture. Combine candied pineapple, cherries, citron, golden raisins, pecans, and walnuts in a bowl; dredge with ½ cup flour, stirring to coat well. Stir mixture into batter. Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until stiff peaks form; fold into butter. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Cover pan with 10-inch brown paper circle, greased side down.
Bake at 250°F for about 4 hours or until cake tests done. Remove from oven. Take off paper cover, and slowly pour ¼ cup brandy evenly over cake; cool completely on wire rack. Remove cake from pan; peel paper liner from cake. Wrap cake in brandy-soaked cheesecloth. Store in an airtight container in a cool place up to 3 weeks; pour a small amount of brandy over cake each week.
Makes one 10-inch cake