I’m willing to admit that my opinion regarding the fruitcakes might be preconceived. I am planning to experiment next season; it is too late now. Now we are eating the moist pound cake where the part of the flour is replaced by ground almonds, studded with brandy-soaked dry fruits and glazed with marmalade/Grand Marnier glaze.
As for the decoration, I had some fun with home-made fondant, the recipe of which was adapted from Toba Garret. In my opinion, it’s the most precise and reliable fondant recipe available. I will be posting it later. Santas decorating idea belongs to Carol Deacon.
Merry Christmas once again!
The cake goes to Jugalbandi January CLICK event – RED .
Makes 12-16 servings
Adapted from the Gourmet magazine.
- 2/3 cup golden raisins
- 2/3 cup currants
- 2/3 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup brandy
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 oz (1 ½ cups) ground blanched almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- A few drops of natural orange oil (optional)
- About ½ cup whole raw almonds
- ¼ cup orange marmalade
- 2 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur
A night before baking, put the dry fruits in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to a simmer over med/high heat. Drain, transfer to a bowl, and immediately pour the brandy over the hot fruits. Cover, let soak overnight.
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 325F. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour, knocking out the excess. Line the bottom of the pan with a parchment paper circle.
Sift together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest. Rub with your fingertips to release the orange oil.
In a bowl of the stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the orange-flavored sugar beating on medium-high speed until well combined, pale in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract, orange oil (if using), and fruits with brandy. Mix until thoroughly combined.
At low speed, mix in the flour mixture only until incorporated. Finish the mixing by a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Press the whole almonds on the top of the cake. Place the pan onto a cookie sheet and slide into the oven. Bake the cake until a long wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Cool the cake on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then run a thin metal spatula around the sides of the cake, and unmold. Place the cake on the cooling rack.
Meanwhile, warm the marmalade with the liqueur in a small bowl in the microwave, or in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring. Strain the glaze through a sieve into a bowl, discarding the solids. Brush the glaze over the top of the cake. Cool the cake completely on the rack, about 3 hours.
The cake improves in flavor if made 1 day ahead. The cake keeps, wrapped well, at room temperature 5 days or it can be frozen for 2 weeks (bring to room temperature before serving).