I think the first time I encountered "the fruitcake" was back in elementary school, maybe first or second grade. I was reading one of my favorite series at the time, Junie B. Jones, specifically Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake. Junie won the fruitcake in the school cake walk and sadly discovered the only thing it was good for was as a doorstop. So from then on, I was naively under the impression that fruitcakes were indeed "yucky." Luckily not too long after, I discovered my mom's fruitcake, which cured me of this childhood delusion. This cake has a texture that is neither overly moist nor dry, neither heavy nor light. Instead, it falls in between these extremes, which creates a satisfyingly homey experience.
This is also a great cake to make as a holiday gift for friends and family. The recipe is uncomplicated, technique and ingredient-wise (the glacé cherries might be difficult to find when the holiday season is over, so definitely stock up in the winter when they're abundant, but any other dried fruit can be used in their place). The fruitcake is quite sturdy, perfect as a holiday party hostess gift wrapped up in red or green cellophane tied with festive gold ribbons. Little fruitcakes can be made in mini loaf pans. A round or square cake pan can be substituted for the loaf pan. The cake can be sliced up and gifted on ornate platters to display the contrast between the cream colored crumb and the colorful, jewel-like studs of fruits and nuts. As you can see, the versatility of this cake is remarkably unlimited.
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 t vanilla extract
3/4-1 cup sugar (adjust the sugar amount based on preference)
1 t salt
3 cups dried fruit & nut mix + 1/2 cup flour
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the cream cheese. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, the baking powder, and the salt.
To make the fruit & nut mix, chop up an assortment of dried fruits and nuts of your choice. Typically, my mom uses raisins, pineapple, papaya, green & red glacé cherries, and pecans. Smaller dried fruits like raisins don't need to be cut, but dice up the other fruits and the nuts. Now measure out 3 cups worth of the mixture and mix it up with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour (this is done so that the fruits and nuts won't all sink to the bottom of your cake when baking).
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients; the batter will be quite thick. When barely any streaks remain, mix in the flour-covered fruit & nut mix. Only on few strokes of your spatula are needed; do not overmix. Spray a loaf pan (9x5 in) with nonstick spray and line the bottom of the pan with a rectangle of parchment paper. Scrape your batter into the loaf pan, smoothing the top.
Place the cake in the oven and let bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. If near the end of baking, the inside of the cake is still wet but the top is browning too quickly, cover the top with a sheet of foil. Let your cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooking.