It's closing in on Christmas Day, which means it's time for me to make my annual "fruit cake." I put that in quotes because it's more of a pound cake studded with dried apricots, golden raisins, and salted cashews. I've made this cake now for a good 20 years at Christmas--and it would not be Christmas with out it. In fact, if Christmas only consisted of our Christmas tree, Russian Tea Cakes, and this fruitcake, I think Drake and I would be happy enough.
You can go directly to the printable recipe, or I'll show you how to make it, step-by-step...
I also want to make a note about the butter. This cake does not contain any baking powder or soda: it relies on beaten egg whites and creaming the butter/sugar for leavening (both of which incorporate air into the batter). The New York Times published a wonderful article about the correct temperature of butter for creaming butter and sugar together. The butter should be cold to the touch, but still make an indentation when you gently press your finger on it. I find leaving butter out for about an hour at room temperature accomplishes this.
So before you begin this recipe, leave 3/4 cup butter to soften to cool room temperature.
Preheat oven to 275° F.
In a separate bowl, measure out 1 3/4 cup cake flour. The light texture of cake flour is absolutely necessary here.
Separate 3 eggs, putting the yolks in a small bowl and the whites in a medium bowl.
Put the 3/4 cup softened, but still cold, butter into the bowl of an electric mixer, along with the sugar.
Follow with 1/3 of the flour, again mixing just until incorporated. Repeat the above steps (1/3 of wet ingredients, 1/3 of flour) two more times. Gradually adding these ingredients in this way will help keep the cake light.
Bake at 275° F. for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until lightly golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. I generally start checking the cake with a toothpick at about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to cool room temperature
1 cup ultra-fine Baker's sugar (or superfine sugar)
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons apricot brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup salted cashews, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 275° F. Grease and flour a 6-cup bundt pan.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, briefly beat the egg yolks. With the mixer on low, add the yolks to the butter mixture.
In another small bowl, combine the milk, apricot brandy, and vanilla. Measure the flour and set aside. With the mixer on low, add the milk and flour in four alternating batches: 1/3 of the milk, 1/3 of the flour, etc. Stir in the apricots, raisins, and cashews.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating egg whites briefly (the white should not be stiff). Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 3/4 to 2 hours. Cool completely in the pan. Store at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic.
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