Certain foods are synonymous with the holiday season. Thanksgiving turkey. Holiday cookies. Fruitcake. While those first two make mouths water. fruitcake rarely inspires stomachs to rumble in anticipation.
Fruitcake is more than just something to go ignored on holiday serving tables. The following recipe for Fig and Walnut Fruit Cake from Andrew Schloss "Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More" is chewy, crunchy and wholesomely rich, making it something holiday hosts will be proud to serve to their holiday guests.
Fig and Walnut Fruit Cake
Makes 12 servings
Vegetable oil spray
1 pound walnut halves and pieces
1 pound dried figs, stems removed, quartered
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
1/4 cup walnut brandy, such as Nocello
Preheat the oven to 225 F. Coat the inside of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with the vegetable oil spray; set aside. Toss the walnuts and figs in a large mixing bowl; set aside.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Toss 3 tablespoons of the dry ingredients with the nuts and fruit to coat.
Adds the eggs and vanilla to the remaining dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to form a smooth batter. Mix in the candied orange peel. Scrape into the nuts and fruit and toss with a rubber spatula until everything is evenly coated.
Scrape the batter-coated nuts and fruit into the prepared pan, wet your hands with cold water, and pack the nuts and fruit firmly into the pan. Set in the oven and bake for 8 hours, until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the cake should register 215 to 225 F.)
Remove the pan from the oven and spoon the brandy over the top. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen, invert onto a rack, remove the pan, turn right-side up, and cool to room temperature.