Christmas is in a few days and as a tradition I've always baked a variety of sweets during this festive month. I've baked my cookies which are consumed daily by my family members, and I've also baked fruitcakes. There's people who don't like fruitcakes but there's a few who likes them and that includes me and my family. For me, fruitcake is like a cake with lots of fruits and nuts in them with a healthy dose of liquor. Now, how good a fruitcake is, I conclude, depends on the recipe and who's making it :)
This particular recipe has a ricotta cheese pound cake as the base. The cake itself is already flavorful and moist, so adding fruits and nuts is actually enhancing those qualities. I agree that a lot of fruitcake is hard and could be dry at times; I don't quite like that in my fruitcake either. And believe me, once this cake is made, it will never be kept for a long time and passed down to other people! Quite the contrary, the cake has disappeared slice by slice before Christmas has even come.
Makes 4 loaves (about 8 servings per loaf)
1 cup chopped candied pineapple
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/3 cup dark rum
1 recipe Ricotta Cheese Pound Cake
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or sweetened flaked coconut
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
At least an hour before baking, preferably longer, combine the candied pineapple, raisins, pecans, and rum in a mixing bowl. Stir, then cover, periodically stirring to saturate the mixture thoroughly. In the meantime butter 4 3 3/4-x 7 3/4-inch loaf pans and line them with buttered wax paper, buttered side out, letting the paper come over the edge by about an inch so you can pull the cakes out easily later. Set aside. When you start to prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350F.
Prepare the cake as usual. Mix the coconut with the dried fruit and rum, then mix in the 2 tablespoons flour. Fold the fruit mixture into the batter, then divide the batter evenly among the pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then lift them out by the wax paper. Cool for another 30 minutes, then carefully peel off wax paper. As soon as the cakes no longer feel warm, wrap them in plastic wrap and overwrap in foil. Store in a cool location in an airtight container.
Ricotta Cheese Pound Cake--adapted for the fruitcake
Makes 1 large cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed light brown sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 cups unbleached flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 3/4 cups milk or light cream
1 cup ricotta cheese
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer, gradually beating in the brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest.
Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, and ginger into another bowl, adding any pieces of bran that remain in the sifter; set aside. Puree the milk or cream and the ricotta cheese in a blender.
Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk/ricotta; do this in several stages, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Proceed with the making of the fruitcakes as described above.
Source: Country Baking by Ken Haedrich