Perhaps it's the dried fruit minus the jellied factor or maybe it's the toasted hazelnuts and freshly grated spices, but the consensus is that this fruitcake recipe is tender, light and flavorful.
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup dried pitted cherries
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup good-quality brandy
- Soft butter and flour for the cake pan
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar plus 3 tablespoons sugar to sprinkle on top
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
- 1 cup candied lemon and orange rind, chopped coarse
- 3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted in the oven for 10 minutes and chopped coarsely
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (162.7 degrees Celsius).
- Put the baking soda in a 2-cup measuring cup and add the buttermilk. Stir well with a fork and set aside.
- Combine the dried cherries, cranberries and raisins with the brandy in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, cover the pan and let the fruit steep.
- Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan or angel food cake pan. Tap out any excess flour.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, and beat in the eggs. Combine the flour with the salt and nutmeg, and sift the dry ingredients together.
- Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Scrape the bowl as necessary. Fold in the fruit, the candied rind and the nuts, making sure they're evenly distributed throughout the batter.
- Spoon the mixture into the cake pan, smooth the top and sprinkle it evenly with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.
- Bake 1 hour and 40 minutes. Let the cake cool on a rack for an hour. Carefully turn it out of the pan and invert it onto a cake plate, sugared side up. Serve right away or wrap tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and store in an airtight container 2 weeks at room temperature, or 1 month in the refrigerator.