Ah, the maligned fruitcake. Many store-bought varieties, stuffed with unrecognizable candied bits, deserve their bad reputation-but not these wonderful cakes, made with a generous serving of dried fruit and candied orange peel in a light batter. There’s only one trick: buy the best-quality, moist dried and candied fruit you can afford.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
- 1 1/2 cups chopped candied orange peel (about 8 ounces)
- 1 cup chopped dried cherries (about 6 ounces)
- 1 cup chopped dried apricots (about 6 ounces)
- 1 cup chopped dried pineapple (about 6 ounces)
- 3/4 cup currants (about 4 ounces)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg whites, divided
- 3 glaceed red cherries, cut in half, for garnish
- 8 pecan halves for garnish
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 275degreesF. Coat two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans or 3 mini loaf pans (6-by-3-inch) with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour.
Bring orange juice to a simmer in a small pan over medium-high heat. Mix orange peel, dried cherries, apricots, pineapple and currants in a large bowl; pour the warm juice over the fruit and let sit until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Strain out excess juice; toss the fruit with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour until well coated. Set aside.
Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl until blended.
Place sugar, oil and butter in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in molasses and vanilla, then add egg whites one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Stir in the dry ingredients. Pour the batter over the fruit and mix well. Divide the mixture among the prepared pans. Decorate the tops with glaceed cherries and pecans.
Bake the cakes until lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 1 hour and 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Unmold and cool completely.
To “ripen” fruitcakes, wrap the cooled loaves in a piece of cheesecloth drizzled with 2 tablespoons bourbon or brandy, then seal tightly in plastic wrap and foil; refrigerate for up to 2 months, wetting the cloth every 2 weeks.
Candied orange peel is available from The Baker’s Catalogue, bakerscatalogue.com, (800) 827-6836.
Per slice: 202 calories; 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 2 g mono unsaturated fat); 3 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 78 mg sodium; 269 mg potassium
Nutrtion Bonus: Vitamin C (15% daily value), Vitamin A (15% dv).
Exchanges: 1 fruit, 2 other carbohydrate, 1/2 fat