‘Tis the season for holiday baking – and fruitcake is generally the first thing on our list. Sue and Julie have been baking fruitcake together every Christmas since they were teenagers – and although our traditional recipe is a dark fruitcake from the Joy of Cooking (it’s in the 1997 version – some earlier versions have a completely different recipe, which isn’t quite the same) – but this year we thought we’d give light fruitcake a chance.
We ordered some nice organic dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots), candied ginger and coconut in our Spud Box, and turned it into two loaf cakes – one for our annual Christmas party, the other to unwrap on Christmas day. We used to use a myriad of fancy pans for our fruitcakes, but sometimes they didn’t survive re-entry – loaf pans make it easy. (If they do crumble, turn the pieces of broken cake into a base for a rich, festive trifle, topped with custard and cream. No one will notice!
Light Coconut Christmas Cake
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups crushed pineapple (not drained)
2 lbs sultana raisins (about 7 cups)
1 lb shredded coconut (about 4 cups)
1/2 lb citron peel (one 250 g container)
1/2 lb halved candied cherries or other dried fruit (about 2 cups – we used cranberries, chopped dried apricots, dates – figs would be good, too)
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup brandy or fruit juice
Preheat the oven to 275˚F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and extracts. Sift 1 1/2 cups of the flour and baking powder. Combine the fruit, candied ginger and almonds with the remainder of the flour.
Add the pineapple and brandy alternately with the flour and baking powder. Stir in the fruit and nut mixture. Divide the batter between two 9×5 loaf pans that have been buttered or lined with parchment, and bake for about 3 hours, with a pan of water alongside in the oven. If you like, wrap in a brandy soaked cheesecloth for a month, stored in a cool place (basements are perfect).
Makes 2 fruitcakes – serves lots.