One of Nathalie Dupree's editors at Atlanta Magazine gave her this recipe years ago, after she revealed herself to be anti-fruitcake. She fell in love with it. "This one will be eaten, not re-gifted," she says.
Make Ahead: The cakes can be tightly wrapped and stored at room temperature for 3 days or frozen for up to 4 months.
Yield: Makes two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaves
- 2 1/2 cups golden raisins
- 1 cup dried unsulphured unsweetened apricots, cut into quarters (about 7 ounces)
- 1 cup chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose or cake flour
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 2 cups chopped pecans, toasted and cooled (see NOTE)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Spray two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans with nonstick oil-and-flour spray. Line with 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper, one cut to the width of the pan and the other to the length of the pan plus 4 inches of overhang to use as handles to lift the loaf from the pan.
Toss the raisins, apricots and ginger in 1/4 cup of flour until evenly coated.
Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces, add them to the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer and beat on low speed until soft, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 or 2 minutes, until the mixture looks like lightly whipped cream. Reduce the speed to low and add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, gradually increasing the speed and beating until well whipped, 5 or 6 minutes. Combine the eggs and extracts in a small bowl, then add to the butter mixture in 4 additions, beating for 1 minute on medium-low speed after each addition. The mixture might look curdled, but all will be well.
Sift the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt onto a piece of wax paper. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture to the batter, beat well, then add the remaining flour mixture and beat. Once the flour is incorporated, use a flexible spatula to fold in the grated rinds, then the nuts and dried fruit. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap each pan once against the counter to remove any air bubbles, and smooth the tops.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (The cakes will be white and might give the appearance of being underbaked even though they are not.) Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the insides of the pans to loosen the cakes. Use the parchment paper handles to remove the cakes from the pans and transfer them to the wire rack. Remove the parchment or wax paper and cool the cakes thoroughly.
NOTE: To toast pecans, spread them on a baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven, shaking the sheet occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully; nuts burn quickly.
Adapted from "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking," by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith, 2012).
Tested by Amy Kim and Jane Touzalin.
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