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Your Cake Is in the Mail : Fruitcake: Better Than Its Reputation

October 25, 1990

It is better, we say, to give a fruitcake than to receive one. Lots better.

But this is the wrong attitude, altogether wrong, totally, totally wrong . . . even though sometimes it may have a deceptive appearance of justness. Actually, a properly made fruitcake is one of the glories of our heritage, steeped in tradition and rum, and this is the time of year to start making them for Christmas. Those who believe (wrongly, we hasten to add) that there is only one fruitcake in the world, which everybody hands around like a hot potato, will find some surprises in the recipes that follow.

Of all the cakes tested here in The Times Test Kitchen, this was the general favorite. Even avowed fruitcake haters could be seen secretly sneaking a piece of this moist cake.

--KATHIE JENKINS

HOLIDAY FRUITCAKE

1 pound dried apricots, chopped

1 pound dates, chopped

1 pound golden raisins

1 pound red and green candied cherries

1 pound red and green candied pineapple

1 pound almonds, blanched, toasted and chopped

1 pound pecans, broken into pieces

4 cups flour

1 pound unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

12 eggs

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground mace

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup rum

1/4 cup brandy

Grand Marnier

Juice and zest of 2 oranges

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

Thoroughly grease 4 (8x5-inch) loaf pans. Combine apricots, dates, raisins, candied cherries and pineapple, almonds and pecans in large bowl. Mix in 1 cup flour to dredge mixture. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at time, beating after each addition.

Sift remaining flour with cloves, cinnamon, mace, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with rum, brandy, 1/4 cup Grand Marnier and fruit juices and zests. Fold into fruit-nut mixture. Pour into loaf pans. Bake at 300 degrees 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until wood pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Cool in pans 15 minutes. Remove from pans onto wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Moisten 4 pieces cheesecloth, large enough to cover each loaf, with Grand Marnier and wrap around each loaf. Wrap Grand Marnier-soaked loaves in foil and refrigerate or store in cool place. Makes 4 (8x4-inch) loaves.

Note: Longer it sets better fruitcake tastes.

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