It's not too late into the Christmas season to make fruitcake this year if you try this lighter, cake-like version that is ready to eat after only one week of mellowing.
WALNUT RAISIN-RUM FRUITCAKE
1 cup candied cherries
1 cup candied pineapple
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
1/2 cup golden rum
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs, separated
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flake coconut
Cut cherries in half. Coarsely chop pineapple and raisins. Combine cherries, pineapple, raisins and orange peel with rum. Cover and let stand several hours or overnight.
Grease 9x5-inch loaf pan. Line with brown paper, extending paper 1 inch above edges of pan. Grease paper. Re-sift flour with baking powder and salt.
Cream butter with brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon until light. Beat in egg yolks. Stir in flour mixture, then fruits with rum and walnuts. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually beat in granulated sugar to make soft meringue. Add coconut, then fold into cake batter. Turn into prepared pan.
Set shallow pan on floor of oven and fill with hot water. Bake cake below oven center at 325 degrees 2 to 2 1/4 hours until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and set pan on wire rack to cool. When cold, remove from pan and wrap well. Store in cool place for at least 1 week before slicing. Makes 1 (3-pound) loaf.
Note: If desired, substitute 1 teaspoon rum extract plus 1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice for 1/3 cup rum.