THERE EXISTS A DESSERT that is coveted on one side of the Atlantic and despised on the other, a holiday treat with the special power to sow conflict among otherwise peaceful peoples. To understand this contested comestible, one needs only look at a family—my family—led by two people from opposite sides of the pond. It all played out in Cypress, where two continents met and I was raised.
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup currants
- 1/2 cup sun dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup sun dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup sun dried cherries
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
- Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
- Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
- 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
- 1 cup gold rum (I used brandy instead)
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
- 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
- 4 whole cloves, ground (between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp)
- 6 allspice berries, ground (about ¾ tsp allspice)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken
- Brandy for basting and/or spritzing
- Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests. Add rum (I used brandy) and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit.
- Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice and spices. Bring mixture to a boil stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes. (Batter can be completed up to this point, then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before completing cake.)
- Heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture. Quickly bring batter together with a large wooden spoon, then stir in eggs one at a time until completely integrated, then fold in nuts. Spoon into a 10-inch non-stick loaf pan and bake for 1 hour (40 minutes for mini loaves). I also erred on the side of caution and used Pam for baking to grease my pans. The recipe doesn’t mention greasing the pans, but I figured it’s better safe than sorry.. Check for doneness by inserting toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, bake another 10 minutes, and check again. My large loaf took about an hour and twenty minutes to bake all the way, and I used a wooden skewer to test for doneness, since a toothpick doesn’t reach all the way to the middle of the cake, which is the part that would be undercooked and gummy.
- Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack or trivet. Baste or spritz top with brandy and allow to cool completely before turning out from pan.
- When cake is completely cooled, seal in a tight sealing, food safe container. Every 2 to 3 days, feel the cake and if dry, spritz with brandy. The cake’s flavor will enhance considerably over the next two weeks. If you decide to give the cake as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient that they are very lucky indeed.
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