C’mon, admit it. You KNOW it wouldn’t be December without candied red cherries.
Never mind those icky green ones. I mean, where did THAT idea ever come from, that translucent, kelly-green cherries would be something you’d willingly put in your mouth?
As any self-respecting 4-year-old would say: EWWWWWWW.
But those red ones… There’s just something about their sticky-sweetness and brilliant color that makes me want to use them. In Cherry-Almond Brownies, for instance. Or to make cherry-stuffed truffles, a less-messy version of Cherry Cordial candies.
NOT fruitcake. We’ve been there already this season. Besides, the time is long past when you should have made your fruitcake, considering how much aging and glazing it should go through before making its appearance on the holiday table.
This cake is more like pound cake: dense and buttery. With its nuts, dried fruit, candied cherries, and a glaze of orange-scented syrup, this cake is a “keeper” – both the recipe, and the cake itself.
It’ll stay fresh for a couple of weeks… if it sticks around that long!
What adds superior flavor and a tempting aroma to all kinds of baked treats? That would be our Fiori di Sicilia – “Flowers of Sicily” – which we discovered years ago, and have been happily using ever since. This combination of citrus and vanilla flavors (think Creamsicle) is used to flavor panettone in its native Italy.
We’ll begin by mixing 2 cups dried cranberries or orange-flavored dried cranberries; 2 cups of your favorite dried fruits or chopped dried apricots; and 1/2 cup water, cranberry juice, or brandy, your choice.
Cover and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir, then set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Lightly grease the pan(s) of your choice: a full-size (12-cup) Bundt pan; or two half-size (6-cup) Bundt pans. Want to make loaves? Use two 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans. I chose to use two half-size Bundt pans, so I could make two cakes: one to give to my cake-loving in-laws, one to keep for my cake-loving husband.
Combine the following in a large bowl:
Beat till well-combined.
Beat in 4 large eggs, one at time. The batter will become light, smooth, and fluffy.
Gradually stir in 3 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour alternately with 1 cup orange juice.
At last – here come the candied cherries. Use 1 3/4 cups, about 10 ounces.
Put the candied cherries, fruit (with any liquid), and 2 cups diced pecans or walnuts into the bowl.
Don’t like nuts? Leave ’em out.
Mix to combine.
Spoon the thick batter into the lightly greased baking pans, filling them nearly full. If you have a scale, dividing the batter evenly among the pans is simple math. If you’ve included the nuts, the batter weighs about 90 oz. (2552g).
Here it is in my two 6-cup (half-size) Bundt pans. Notice how close to the top the batter comes; as mentioned earlier, the cake is dense and thus won’t overflow the pan.
Put the cakes in the oven. Uh-oh… they’re not going to overflow, are they?
If you’re planning on glazing the cakes, stir together 1/3 cup orange juice and 1/3 cup sugar while the cakes are baking. Set aside to rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.
Bake the cakes for about 80 minutes. When done, the cakes will be a light golden brown all over, and a cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean.
If you’re baking in loaf pans, start testing at about 60 minutes, and remove when the cakes test done.
Remove from the oven.
Wait about 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a rack.
Immediately brush with the glaze. Continue to brush until you’ve used all the glaze; the cakes will be quite saturated, which is the point.
If you choose not to use the glaze, you may wish to brush the warm cake(s) with brandy or the liquor of your choice.
Too much glaze? Not at all; it’ll soak in nicely.
Now THAT is one regal-looking cake, candied cherries and all.
See the darker-colored edges? That’s where the glaze has soaked in.
When it’s completely cool, wrap well and let rest at least 24 hours (or for up to a month, brushing with liquor or flavored syrup weekly), before serving.
This really is a delicious cake. And pretty, especially when made in a Bundt pan – the perfect centerpiece for a holiday dessert buffet.
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake.