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Lofty Layered Fruitcake

Author: Charlotte Rutledge

Lofty Layered Fruitcake Recipe

If fruitcake doesn't necessarily conjure up thoughts of a frosted four-layer cake, this recipe is designed to change your mind. Dense, moist, fruit-studded cakes are sandwiched between layers of light, fluffy, delicately sweetened frosting for a combination that's as impressive to view as it is to eat.

At a glance

Prep
Bake
Total
Yield
one 8" four-layer cake

Ingredients

Choose your measure:

Fruit

Cake

  • 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, 65°F to 68°F
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons Yuletide Cheer Spice, or 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind (zest), 3/4 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 3/8 teaspoon mace, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups diced pecans or walnuts, optional
  • brandy, rum, or liquor of your choice; for soaking, optional

Frosting

  • 1 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Baker's Special Sugar or granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Sugared cranberries, optional

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 to 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, washed and dried

Instructions

  1. To prepare the fruit: Combine the dried fruit with liquid in a bowl. Cover and set aside to soak overnight. Too impatient to wait until tomorrow? Microwave everything for 1 minute (or until it's very hot), cover, and let rest 1 hour.
  2. To prepare the cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease two celebration cake pans or two 8" round cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spice.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
  5. Weigh your flour; you’ll find its weight by toggling to “ounces” at the top of the ingredient section above. Or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Stir the flour into the batter alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour, scraping the bowl as needed.
  6. Add the undrained fruit and the nuts, mixing until evenly incorporated.
  7. Spoon one-fourth of the batter into each prepared pan, filling them almost full if using the celebration pans or 3/4" deep if using round cake pans. If you have a scale, dividing the batter evenly among the pans is simple math.
  8. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes until the cakes are lightly golden brown all over; a cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven, let them cool for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack.
  10. Brush the warm cakes with brandy or the liquor of your choice if desired, for added flavor. If you have a squeeze bottle, it's easy to apply the alcohol that way. Allow to cool completely while the remaining layers bake.
  11. Bake two more cakes with the remaining batter, following the directions above.
  12. To make the frosting: Whip the cream cheese with the sugar until light and fluffy.
  13. Add the heavy cream and whip until firm peaks form.
  14. To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a serving plate and top with a little less than one-fourth of the frosting. Add another cake layer and repeat the process, topping the final layer with the remaining frosting.
  15. Refrigerate the cake until you're ready to serve, up to overnight.
  16. To make the sugared cranberries: The day before you want to serve the cake, combine the water and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
  17. Add the cranberries to the pot, cover, and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight.
  18. Pour the cranberries with the syrup through a strainer, reserving the syrup if desired for another use.
  19. Toss the cranberries with the remaining sugar, and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet or cooling rack to dry for 1 to 2 hours.
  20. Just before serving, garnish the cake with sugared cranberries, if desired, or seasonal fresh or dried fruits or nuts.
  21. Refrigerate any leftovers, well wrapped, for several days.