Food & Drink

St. Nicholas Cake/Fruit Cake

Makes 3 cakes

From "The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook," by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (Workman, 1985).

Ingredients:

8 cups pitted whole dates (about 3 pounds)

8 cups walnut halves (about 1¾ pounds)

1 cup candied cherries (about 6 ounces)

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6 eggs, separated, room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted

4½ tablespoons heavy or whipping cream

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

½ teaspoon almond extract

1½ cups whole-wheat flour

2½ teaspoons baking powder.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans. Line the bottoms and sides with foil and butter the foil generously.

Combine the dates, walnuts and cherries in a very large bowl or roasting pan. Sprinkle with the all-purpose flour and toss to coat well, separating the dates with your fingers.

Combine the egg yolks and the sugars in a large mixer bowl; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the butter, cream, vanilla, orange zest and almond extract. Mix the whole-wheat flour and baking powder thoroughly in a small bowl; stir into the batter with a wooden spoon.

Beat the egg whites in another large mixer bowl just until the peaks are stiff. Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining. Pour the batter over the date mixture and mix well to coat all the fruit and nuts. Spoon into the prepared pans, dividing evenly and mounding the batter slightly in the pans.

Cover the pans with buttered aluminum foil. Bake 40 minutes; remove the foil from the tops. Continue baking until the centers are firm to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks. Remove from the pans; wrap tightly in aluminum foil. The fruitcake can be eaten the next day or stored in a cool place for up to two weeks.

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