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Show a little love for the much-maligned holiday fruitcake

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

Fruitcakes are a holiday tradition all over the world. They have been around seemingly forever.

More than one has been used as a doorstop.

Seriously, they are, in many families, a tradition for gift giving and passing on the time-honored recipe.

Here's one that will make four loaves so you can share with family or friends.

The wonderful flavors and textures will be enjoyable for all.

The ingredient list might look lengthy; however, you are making four loaves.

The glacé fruits are in the baking section and readily available.

Look at some of the prices that retailers/bakeries are charging, and you'll see that this is the most economical way to go for this treat.

Christmas Fruitcake

(makes four loaves)

1 pound golden raisins

1 pound dark raisins

1 pound glacé cherries

1 pound glacé pineapple

1/2cup glacé orange peel

1/4cup glacé lemon peel

1/4cup glacé citron (this is the green candied fruit, which may be omitted if you wish)

12 ounces coarsely chopped blanched almonds

12 ounces walnut halves

3/4cup dark rum, plus additional to taste

1/4cup brandy, plus additional to taste

11/2cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

12 large eggs, at room temperature

11/2teaspoons almond extract

1/2teaspoon lemon extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

51/2cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2teaspoon ground mace

1/2teaspoon ground nutmeg

Toss the fruit and the nuts with the rum and brandy, and cover.

Let stand for a minimum of two hours or preferably overnight; stir occasionally. This does not have to be refrigerated.

Cream the butter and both sugars with an electric mixer, and use paddle attachment if you have one. Set the mixer on medium speed, and scrape the bowl down often.

Mix for approximately 20 minutes, until the mixture is light in color and texture.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Add the eggs, one at a time, to the mixture, blending and scraping between the additions.

Next, add the extracts and blend in.

Sift the flour with the baking soda and the dry spices and fold into the batter by hand.

Add the macerated fruit and nuts to the batter and fold in to incorporate.

There should be just enough batter to coat the fruit and it is important to remember that your macerated fruit is the star of the loaf/cake.

Prepare your pans. You can use loaf or tube pans.

Coat them generously with shortening, and then dust them with flour.

Chef's note: Commercial spray coatings generally don't work well with this, as they generally cause sticking.

Fill the pans two-thirds full, and tap gently to remove any air pockets.

Decorate the tops with candied cherries, pineapple, walnut halves or peel, if desired.

Place the pans in the preheated oven, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 12 hours.

The time greatly varies because it depends on the size of pans used.

Check for doneness with a toothpick; it should come out clean and moist.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 to 30 minutes; then remove them from the pans carefully, and cool on a rack.

When cooled, they can be wrapped in tinted cellophane paper and tied with festive ribbons.

You even can buy new loaf pans and place the cakes in them to give to your family or friends.

David Kelly has worked as a chef for more than 40 years. He has shared his recipes, tips and experiences in Culinary Corner for 21 years.

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