Saturday, December 25, 2010

Western Dried Fruits Cake

A gem of a cake made entirely of nuts and dried fruits, with just enough vanilla-scented batter to hold it all together.  Beautiful, jewel-like slices go wonderfully with coffee and tea, or on a plate of cookies and candies for dessert after a holiday meal.

This recipe came out in the 80's and I've seen many versions since then, varying the fruits and nuts, adding candied ginger and such.  But for a pure, heavenly taste that unquestionably deserves all the superlatives you can give it, this original version is the ticket.

I've been making this cake in little foil pans for around 25 years now, and giving them as gifts.  Merry Christmas!
From Sunset Magazine

A couple of hints:  Snip the apricots into quarters using kitchen shears.  It's easier than using a knife.  To butter the pans, use a brush dipped in melted butter; brush the butter onto the waxed paper lining also.

1 cup chopped pitted dates
2 cups quartered dried apricots
1 cup golden raisins
1-1/2 cups whole blanched almonds
1-1/2 cups walnut pieces
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter a 5- x 9-inch loaf pan; line with baking parchment or waxed paper, then butter the paper.

In small bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder to blend.  

In large bowl, combine dates, apricots, raisins, almonds and walnuts.  Add flour mixture to fruits and mix evenly.

Beat eggs with vanilla to blend.  Stir thoroughly into fruit mixture.  Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly; press batter into corners of pan, and press batter down as you fill the pan so there are no gaps.  Shape the batter so it's a bit rounded on the top of the loaf.

Bake in a 300-degree oven until golden brown, about 2 hours.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan.  Peel off paper and let cake cool on rack.

Wrap in plastic wrap or foil.  Chill at least two days or up to two months.  Or eat it immediately!  The flavor is excellent fresh, too.  If desired, sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 tablespoon rum or brandy once a week.

Makes 1 loaf

Gift loaves option:  Double the recipe.  Use six small foil loaf pans, about 3 x 6 inches.  Butter and line pans as instructed above.  Be sure to push batter into corners of pans and press down so the loaf is compact.  Bake at 250 degrees (a cooler temperature than the big, single loaf) for 2 hours.  Watch the cakes during the last hour to prevent burning.  For these small loaves, I found that 300 degrees was too hot.

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