Holiday cake filled with dried fruit, nuts, and spices. It’s the perfect cake to share with friends this Christmas season!
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Last year I shared Brown Sugar Fudge, a recipe from my friend Kathleen’s grandmother. Two years ago it was Fruitcake Cookies, a favorite of my Uncle Mike. Three years ago, we delighted in Maureen’s Rice Krispie Cookies, which you need to make immediately.
This year, I decided to focus on a cake recipe from my great-great-great-grandmother. That’s a lot of greats.
Mama Florence was my great-great-grandmother’s stepmother. I honestly don’t know a whole lot about Mama Florence, aside from the fact that she made this cake every year and that it was a Christmas staple for my momma’s family when she was growing up.
This recipe was not just a simple matter of making the recipe, photographing it and sharing it with you, however. Nope – when I say that I have my “great-great-great-grandmother’s recipe”, what I mean in this particular instance is that I have a “list of ingredients for my great-great-great-grandmother’s recipe with no instructions whatsoever and in some cases no measurements, either.”
I knew the real test would be feeding the cakes to my grandmother, the only one who really remembers what Mama Florence’s recipe (or at least my great-grandmother’s version of the recipe) tasted like.
After the first bite, her face lit up like a Christmas tree. Bingo.
I am giving you this recipe now, because these cakes should be made at least 2 weeks in advance of serving them. YES. 2 weeks. That was not a typo. Once the cakes cool, you will wrap them up and, every 2-3 days, spritz them with a little bit of brandy. Wrap them back up and come for a visit again in a few days. Just don’t be like my great-great-grandmother, who one year took small bites of the cake every time she went to booze it up. By the time she went to serve the cake for a party, she had eaten almost all of it! #Oops
With the rich spices, molasses, pecans and dried fruits highlighted by the subtle flavors of orange and brandy, this is sure to be a cake your family and holiday guests will request every year.
- 1 pound golden raisins
- 1 pound chopped dates
- ¼ pound currants
- 2 cups brandy, divided
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 1 orange
- ½ cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 5 eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ tablespoon EACH nutmeg, allspice, cloves and cinnamon
- ½ pound Diamond of California Pecan Chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan and an 8-inch ring pan OR 3 8x4 inch loaf pans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the raisins, dates and currants. Add ½ cup of the brandy and the orange juice. Cover and soak overnight, or cover lightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes. If microwaving, allow to cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the orange zest, molasses and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition.
- Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Slowly add to the wet ingredients, mixing on medium speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then fold in the dried fruit and pecans.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake cakes for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in the pans, then gently remove from the pans (run a knife along the edges of the pan before attempting to remove). Allow to cool completely.
- Place the remaining brandy in a spray bottle. Spritz the tops of the cakes with the brandy, then wrap tightly in heavy duty foil. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks, unwrapping and spritzing with the brandy every 2-3 days.