Blond Fruit Cake

Last holiday season, I was looking for a fruit cake recipe and ended up with this one. I came up with it based on one in Jeffrey Steingarten's book "The Man Who Ate Everything". Originally, it had the hideous candied fruit that is common in most fruit cake but I substituted a fruit combination that works pretty well. Probably would also work with dried cherries or other fruits. I also added the brandy because everything is better with alcohol.

6 oz dried dates (quartered)
6 oz dried apricots (quartered)
6 oz dried cranberries + 2 cups water for hydration
8 oz yellow raisins
8 oz pecans (course chopped)

1/2 lb unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 lb granular sugar

1/2 lb all-purpose flour (sifted)
3 extra large eggs + 1 egg yoke

2 tbs orange extract
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup VSOP brandy (approx)

Add the cranberries to about 2 cups of water in a microwave safe container. Microwave for about 3 minutes until the water gets hot. Let stand for about 10 minutes, drain, and then mix together with the other dried fruits and pecans in a large bowl. Set aside while you prepare the batter.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in 2 of the eggs and then half of the flour. Beat in the remaining eggs and then the remaining flour, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. Beat in nutmeg and orange extract. Once uniform, add the batter to the fruit/nut mixture and combine with a spoon.

Line the bottom of loaf pans with parchment paper and then oil and flour heavily. Fill the pans to 1/4" below the rim with batter. Bake in pre-heated 300 degree oven for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, wrap the pans with foil leaving space above the loaf and continue baking for approximately another 45 minutes. Cake should not brown and is done when firm to the touch.

Let the cake cool in pans. When cool, remove them from pan. Before wrapping with cling wrap, spoon brandy on the top and bottom of each loaf. Wrap tightly and then refrigerate for approximately 3 weeks before slicing.

Makes two 3-1/2" by 8" loaf pans or 8 mini-loaves

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