Make Ahead

Jeffrey Steingarten's Mother-in-Law's Fruitcake

December  3, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Makes two 8 cup loaf pans
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound candied red cherries
  • 1 pound best quality dried pineapple, cut into chunks
  • 1 pound golden raisins
  • 1 pound best quality dried apricots, cut into quarters
  • 1 pound walnut halves or pieces
  • 1 pound best quality unsalted butter (4 sticks), at room temperature
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons lemon extract
  • zest and juice of one Meyer lemon, or any organic lemon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Rinse the candied cherries and combine in a very large bowl with all the dried fruits and walnuts. (I use a plastic dish pan.)
  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and mix well.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the lemon extract, zest, lemon juice and vanilla to cake batter and combine.
  6. Pour cake batter over fruits and nuts. Use a sturdy hand spatula to thoroughly combine ingredients. Batter will be very stiff!
  7. Butter loaf pans and line with parchment paper. Lay one piece lengthwise, another crosswise. Trim to fit pans. Butter fitted parchment paper.
  8. Pour batter into pans, leaving one half inch of space at the top of each pan.
  9. Cover pans with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and then bake, uncovered, for 60 additional minutes.
  10. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • nannydeb
  • luvcookbooks
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • TiggyBee
  • MyCommunalTable

17 Reviews

DanaD December 20, 2010
I made this yesterday using dried cherries for a brunch. The cake is delicious with a nice lemony flavor to meld with the fruit! I probably should have made just half the recipe since it made quite a lot.
Lizthechef December 20, 2010
Pop the extra in your freezer - keeps very well. So glad it worked for you!
Sagegreen December 20, 2010
I had a sneaky suspicion that dried cherries would be wonderful in this great fruitcake!. SO good to know for sure! :)
nannydeb December 8, 2010
This looks good! I, too turn my nose up at the red & green pineapple!
Lizthechef December 8, 2010
I hope you will try it and let us know how it worked for you - thanks!
luvcookbooks December 6, 2010
luvfruitcake as well as cookbooks. my family is a fruitcake baking family also-- i know your mom has tried a bit from the afterlife. the lemon is staggering, i've never seen that in a fruitcake recipe before.
this may seem to go without saying, but i purchased a fruitcake cookbook this fall. have the fruit, waiting for time to make the cake.
will start with Jamaican Black Fruit Cake. to me, the mountaintop of fruitcake.
oxx as you remember your family during the holidays.
Lizthechef December 6, 2010
Thanks so much. Hope you will post your Black Fruitcake - sounds wonderful.
TheWimpyVegetarian December 4, 2010
I'm so glad you've shared this recipe and the memories it has for you with all of us! You've definitely motivated me to try fruitcake. I think I would love this one with all the dried fruit!
Lizthechef December 4, 2010
I think Sagegreen's suggestion to substitute dried for candied cherries might help out here. Thanks!
TiggyBee December 3, 2010
This recipe and your headnote makes me want to hug you!!
Sagegreen December 4, 2010
Ditto! Lovely recipe!!!
Lizthechef December 4, 2010
I can use all the hugs I can get - thank you - Mr. S. is a riot to read...
MyCommunalTable December 3, 2010
This recipe makes me really want to try it making fruitcake for the first time. It looks delicious.
Lizthechef December 4, 2010
There are so many awful fruitcakes out there that I completely understand. I make a rule, nothing green in my cakes...
Lizthechef December 3, 2010
Oops, of course, I meant "Sagegreen". Thanks for all your support...
Sagegreen December 4, 2010
Either is just fine! A very special recipe!
Lizthechef December 3, 2010
Thanks, sagegreen, for your email suggestion to use dried rather than candied cherries here!