It's hard to believe there's no added fat in this super-moist cake. It tastes rich and quite fruity. You'll need your hands to mix the very heavy dough.
Don't be tempted to buy commercially made fig preserves as a shortcut to making the fig puree; they will cause the recipe to fail. But if you can find homemade preserves being sold at, say, a holiday bazaar, they should work fine.
Make Ahead: The fig mixture can be made up to 2 days in advance, covered and refrigerated. The fruitcake can be wrapped and stored for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: Makes one 9 3/4-inch cake
- 3 cups (about 14 ounces) dried figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed
- 2 cups finely diced, peeled apple
- One 15-ounce box raisins
- 2 cups pecans or black walnuts, in halves or pieces
- 4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons baking soda
Combine the figs, 6 tablespoons of the sugar and 2 cups of the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the figs are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, then use an immersion (stick) blender on low speed to process the figs to a coarse puree, adding water as needed. Let cool. The yield is slightly more than 2 cups.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Use nonstick oil-and-flour spray to grease a 9 3/4-inch tube pan, preferably one with a removable bottom, or two standard loaf pans.
Measure 2 cups of the fig puree and transfer to a very large mixing bowl along with the apple, raisins and nuts. Stir to mix well. (Cover and refrigerate any excess fig puree for another use.)
Whisk together the flour, the remaining 2 cups of sugar, the cinnamon, cloves and salt in a separate large bowl until combined.
Combine the baking soda and the remaining 1/2 cup of water in a small bowl, stirring until the baking soda has dissolved. Stir this into the fruit mixture.
Add the dry ingredients to the fruit mixture and mix well. The batter will be extremely thick and heavy, so at this point it's easiest to mix it with your hands. You might need to add a couple tablespoons of water to moisten all the ingredients.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s) and use a flexible spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 1 3/4 to 2 hours or until a tester inserted near the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Cool for 30 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely. (If using a tube pan with a removable base, keep the cake on the base as it cools.) Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Adapted from Mother Linda’s, www.motherlindas.com.
Tested by Nilar Andrea Chit Tun and Randy Richter.
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