This has been my favorite fruitcake since I first tasted it when I was in my teens. The recipe is adapted from one given to me by Daphne Giles, the British sister-in-law of my late childhood friend, Noel Giles. Daphne comes from Newbury, near Oxford, and prepared this every year for Noel's Christmas day birthday.
Makes fifty 2-inch squares
8 ounces dark raisins
8 ounces golden raisins
8 ounces currants
8 ounces dates, pitted, cut into 1/4-inch dice
8 ounces dried figs, stemmed, cut into 1/4-inch dice
8 ounces mixed candied fruit
4 ounces candied cherries
4 ounces candied pineapple, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 ounces walnut halves
4 ounces pecan halves
4 ounces whole almonds
1/2 cup plus dark rum or brandy, plus more for sprinkling
2 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 pound almond paste
4 cups (1 1-pound box) confectioners’ sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
One 12-x-18-inch half sheet pan
- In a large bowl, combine fruits and nuts and toss with rum or brandy. (The mixture may be left covered several days at this point.)
- When you’re ready to bake the cake set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees.
- Sift flour with other dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter until light then beat in brown sugar. Continue beating until lighter. Beat in a third of the flour mixture, 2 eggs, and continue alternating until all is combined, ending with flour mixture. Pour batter over fruit and nuts and fold thoroughly together.
- Press batter into the prepared pan. Place a piece of parchment or foil over the batter and press it so it adheres well. Bake until firm and no longer wet, about 1 hour, being careful not to overbake.
- Cool the fruitcake in the pan. Moisten cheesecloth with 1/2 of the remaining rum. Sprinkle cake with remaining rum and wrap it in rum-moistened cheesecloth. Wrap in plastic and foil and age the fruitcake several weeks, if you wish. (Please note: Although the cake should keep fine at room temperature, especially since it has been soaked with alcohol, I prefer to age it in the refrigerator.)
- For topping, combine almond paste, sugar and 1/3 cup corn syrup in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse repeatedly about 10 or 12 times to form a dough. Remove from work bowl and knead until smooth. Double wrap in plastic and store until needed at room temperature.
- To cover the fruitcake with the marzipan, bring the remaining 2/3 cup corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan. Brush half the hot corn syrup on the fruitcake. On a surface dusted with confectioners’ sugar, roll half the marzipan to the size of the fruitcake. Lift and place marzipan on fruitcake, pressing to adhere. Invert fruitcake to a clean surface and repeat with remaining corn syrup and marzipan. Trim edges and cut fruitcake into 2-inch squares. Wrap any leftover squares in plastic wrap.