Fruit Cake of the Delectable Kind for Sukkoth
This is so far removed from the stale version of fruit cake you may remember from childhood. Elegant and flavorful, it is perfect for Sukkot or any time that you want to impress guests. Be sure to top it with the fruit jewels for a special treat.
Recipe Type: Dessert
Yield: 1 cake
Cognac-Soaked Dried Fruit:
  • 10 ounces (284g) dried fruits of your choice, cut into very small pieces (I used a combination of raisins, sour cherries, apricots, figs and prunes)
  • 3 ounces (89mL) Courvoisier cognac
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons flour
Cake (adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine):
  • Butter or oil for greasing the pan
  • 7 ounces (about 200g) all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoons ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oil (8 ounces or 236.5mL) (I used walnut oil)
  • ⅔ cup (5 ounces or 142g) dark brown sugar (use high quality, like muscovado)
  • ½ cup (4 ounces or 113g) granulated sugar (as always, I used Bakers’ sugar)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces ( 113.5g) nuts of your choice, roughly chopped (I used almonds and pecans that were toasted for 10 minutes)
Fruit Jewels (Pâte de Fruit; recipe adapted from Circus At Home by Jacques Torres)
  • 1 cup chunky applesauce
  • 1½ cups apricots, fresh or canned (and drained), peeled and pitted
  • 2¼ cups granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • Juice of 1 lemon
For the Cognac-Soaked Dried Fruit:
  1. Soak the dried fruits in the cognac and orange zest for at least 30 minutes. (The original recipe actually advises to soak the dried fruits for 24 hours. Well, if you want to do what we did in Israel years back, by all means go ahead and replace the alcohol, every time it disappears. But for 24 hours? I am not sure about that. It came out pretty tasty with the 30-minute soaking and if you let the cake settle and eat it only the next day, it will taste even better.)
  2. Drain the dried fruit, reserving the soaking alcohol, and mix with the flour prior to incorporating them into the cake batter.
For the Cake:
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-1/2x4-1/2-inch metal loaf pan. (Note: I used a spring form pan, but I think a loaf pan would be better; it would give a better height to the cake) Line the pan with two strips of parchment in opposite directions, leaving an overhang for easy removal of the cake.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, ground cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Mix the oil and both sugars with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed until the sugars absorb the oil.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the sifted flour to the eggs and mix it well with a handheld mixer at low speed.
  6. Then add the oil-sugar mixture to this mixture with the handheld mixer using low speed again.
  7. Finally, fold the chopped crystalized ginger, the chopped nuts, and the drained dried fruit that was mixed with flour and add it to the batter. Make sure that the batter looks uniform color and quite smooth texture before pouring the entire batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Tap the pan on the table a few times to make sure no air pockets remain. Also make sure that the top is smooth and in level.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300°F and bake until the center of the cake has risen slightly and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1½ hours. (90 minutes in a conventional oven; 70-80 minutes in convection oven.)
  10. Remove the cake and let it cool in its pan on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes.
  11. Use the parchment overhang to lift the cake from the pan. Place it on the rack, peel down the parchment sides, and cool completely.
  12. When cool, brush the cake with 2 to 3 tablespoons. of the alcohol you used for soaking.
  13. It is suggested not to eat it the same day that you baked it; just wrap it in a plastic and a foil. Store the cake at room temperature for a minimum of 24 hours before serving. Top with Pate de Fruit (recipe below), if you wish.
  14. If serving within a week of baking, you do not need to baste the cake again. For longer storage, baste once a week with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the alcohol of your choice. The cake will keep at room temperature for at least 3 weeks. (I hope it will not hold that long in your home)
For the Fruit Jewels (Pâte de Fruit)
  1. Put the applesauce, apricots, sugar, and lemon juice into a nonreactive 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix together, then use a hand-held immersion blender to combine all the ingredients until smooth. As the mixture cooks, the natural pectin in the fruit will cause the mixture to thicken. Continue to cook the mixture until it is thick, mixing constantly.
  2. To test it for the correct consistency, dip a whisk in the mixture and hold it horizontally in front of you. Watch as the mixture drips off the whisk and back into the pan. If the mixture stays on the whisk and beads up into small balls, like pearls, it is ready. If it drips back into the pan in thin strands, it needs to be cooked a little longer.
  3. When the mixture is a bit thicker than jam, pour it into a spouted container. This will make it easier to pour the mixture directly into the flexi pan. You can use any flex pan with the desired shape, depending on the desired design of the jewels you want to create. I used a small madeleine flexi pan, and some I cut out from a sheet of the “jam” with a cookie cutter.
  4. Fill the molds. Let it rest for 4 hours at room temperature. When the mixture has set, remove and roll each jewel in granulated sugar.
  5. If you do not have a flexi pan, you can pour the “Pâte” into a bottomless tart mold or cake ring placed on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. To unmold, run a sharp paring knife between the fruit and the mold. Lift off the mold.
  6. At this point the Pâte can be stored, well wrapped in plastic and in an airtight container, for up to 2 months.
  7. Sprinkle the top of the Pâte with a thin layer of granulated sugar and flip it onto another sheet of parchment paper. Remove the parchment that is now on top. Sprinkle this side with more sugar. Use a wet chef's knife or cutter to cut the Pâte de Fruit into any shapes. Roll each piece completely in sugar and serve.
  8. Do not store it in the refrigerator where the humidity will make the sugar melt.
  9. Even though my write-up is long because I wanted to make sure that the directions are clearly written so that anyone can follow it, the preparation of both (the cake or the fruit jewels) are easy and simple, but the results are anything but. Your guest will be quite impressed. Good luck with your fun in the kitchen and HAPPY SUKKOTH
Parve, Vegetarian
Recipe by Katherine Martinelli at