My mother and I were big fruitcake fans, always looking for a favorite recipe. When I found a recipe in Jeffrey Steingarten's "The Man Who Ate Everything", I thought we had a winner. We turned our noses up at "mixed red and green pineapple" and went straight to Harry & David's for candied apricots, beautiful glazed cherries and premium dried pineapple. After several Christmases of revising cooking times and instructions, we finally nailed it in 2002. I hadn't made our fruitcake since my mother had died in 2007, but dusted off the recipe and baked a batch this week. Fruitcake 2010 was an instant success in our household, and I believe my Mom would be proud. —Lizthechef
two 8 cup loaf pans
candied red cherries
best quality dried pineapple, cut into chunks
best quality dried apricots, cut into quarters
walnut halves or pieces
best quality unsalted butter (4 sticks), at room temperature
large eggs, at room temperature
unbleached all-purpose flour
zest and juice of one Meyer lemon, or any organic lemon
Rinse the candied cherries and combine in a very large bowl with all the dried fruits and walnuts. (I use a plastic dish pan.)
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and mix well.
Beat in 3 of the eggs to mixture, then 2 cups of flour. Mix well. Beat in 3 more eggs and final 2 cups of flour. Mix well.
Add the lemon extract, zest, lemon juice and vanilla to cake batter and combine.
Pour cake batter over fruits and nuts. Use a sturdy hand spatula to thoroughly combine ingredients. Batter will be very stiff!
Butter loaf pans and line with parchment paper. Lay one piece lengthwise, another crosswise. Trim to fit pans. Butter fitted parchment paper.
Pour batter into pans, leaving one half inch of space at the top of each pan.
Cover pans with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and then bake, uncovered, for 60 additional minutes.
Cool in pans on racks. Unmold, remove paper, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until serving. Cake keeps for at least two weeks in fridge. Ours never lasts that long...NOTE: This year's batter was so full of ingredients that I was able to bake a third loaf in a smaller-sized pan. I cut its baking time to 45 minutes once I had removed the foil from the cakes.