Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake

More of a cake with fruit than a traditional "fruitcake," this cake is stuffed with apricots, cherries, cranberries, and toasted nuts (in place of the usual fruitcake's citron and peel), then glazed with a sweetened orange juice syrup. Moist and nicely dense, it's a revelation to those who think they don't like fruitcake; and a nice change for aficionados of the typical dark, liquor-soaked loaf. While the picture shows a full-size bundt-style cake, the recipe translates easily to smaller gift-size cakes; see step #2; and baker's tips, below.

Prep
25 mins
Bake
50 mins to 1 hr 30 mins
Total
1 hr 45 mins
Yield
Yield: 1 large bundt-style cake; 2 small bundt-style cakes; 2 standard loaves, or 5 to 6 smaller gif
Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake

Instructions

  1. To prepare the fruit: Combine the dried fruit (except the candied cherries) with liquid in a bowl. Cover and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stir, then set aside to cool.

  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

  3. To prepare the cake: In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light-colored and fluffy. Beat in the baking powder, salt, and flavors.

  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat again briefly, to incorporate any sticky residue.

  5. Stir in the flour alternately with the orange juice.

  6. Stir in the undrained fruit, the candied cherries, and the nuts.

  7. Lightly grease the pans of your choice: two 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans; or five 7" wooden bakers; or six 7" paper bake & give pans; or one 12-cup bundt-style pan; or two 6-cup bundt-style pans. For smaller loaves, see baker's tips, below.

  8. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased baking pans, filling them about three-quarters 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).

  9. Bake the cakes for 50 to 90 minutes; smaller pans will bake for the shorter length of time. Half-size bundt-style cakes may need to bake up to 80 minutes, while one full-size bundt may need up to 90 minutes. When done, the cakes will be a light golden brown all over, and a long toothpick or skewer inserted into the center will come out clean.

  10. To make the glaze: Stir together the orange juice and sugar while the cakes are baking. Warm briefly in the microwave; about 45 seconds should do it. Stir to help dissolve the sugar. Set aside to rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally to continue to dissolve the sugar.

  11. Remove the cakes from the oven. If you're removing them from the pan(s), wait about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack. Brush the warm cakes all over with the glaze, continuing to brush until you've used it all.

  12. When completely cooled, wrap well and let "age" at least 24 hours; the cake improves with a 24-hour rest.

  13. If desired, drizzle with icing just before serving.

  14. Store cake, well wrapped, at room temperature; it should keep well for a couple of weeks. Freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make mini loaves: Lightly grease a mini loaf pan. Prepare the batter, then spoon it into the pan, filling each well about three-quarters full — you'll use about 4 1/2 ounces of batter in each well. Bake the cakes for 28 to 30 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven. Wait 5 minutes, turn them out of the pan, then brush the tops of the warm cakes with a coat of glaze. Repeat with the remaining batter — you'll need to bake two full batches, plus an additional half batch.