The Perfect Fruitcake
Yields: 2 9-inch loaves or 4 small loaves
3 cups dark rum
1 cup Calvados (or other apple brandy)
½ cup water
3 cups assorted diced dried fruit (apricots, peaches, cherries, pears, cranberries, golden raisins)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1. Bring the rum, Calvados and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, stir in the fruit and let sit until the liquid reaches room temperature. Spoon the fruit into a bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid, pour the liquid over top, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. The longer the fruit sits, the better the fruit and the liquid will taste.
2. Strain the fruit into a strainer set over a bowl, pressing on the fruit to extract any additional liquid. You should have about 1 cup of liquid left; if you do not, add a little extra rum to make 1 cup.
3. Place the liquid into a small saucepan, stir in the sugar, bring to a boil, and cook until the sugar melts and the mixture reduces slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups pure cane sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 large eggs
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
1 Gala apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Finely grated zest of 1 tangerine
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lemon
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups macerated fruit, from above, drained and liquid reserved
2½ cups AP flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 9-inch loaf pans (or spray with nonstick spray). Set aside.
2. Put the butter in a small skillet and cook over medium heat until it turns a deep golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the butter to a large bowl, add the sugars and oil, and mix until just combined (the mixture will not be smooth). Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add the apples, zest, lemon juice, vanilla and macerated fruit and mix until smooth; let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with the nuts and gently fold until just combined. Divide the mixture between the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
4. Let the fruitcakes cool in pan set on a baking rack for 15 minutes. Poke holes in the top of the cake every few inches and brush the tops of the cakes with the reserved rum mixture. Let the cakes sit 10 minutes longer, until the rum mixture has been absorbed. Remove the cakes from the baking pan and let cool completely on the wire rack, at least 1 hour longer. Store cakes in a container with a tight fitting lid.