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Fruitcake Blanc

Time 2 hours, plus 3 hours cooling and 24 to 48 hours for soaking fruit, largely unattended
Yields Serves 10 to 12
Homemade almond paste and dried pears, apples and apricots create a light-colored rendition of this classic holiday cake.
(Peden+ Munk)
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This cake, a lighter-in-color version of classic fruitcake, makes a great alternative to cookies for holiday gifts. I like to cut a couple of loaves into 2-inch slices, wrap them in parchment, and tie them with ribbon for small hostess gifts; it’s very useful to have a few of these cakes on hand during the holidays. Note that the dried fruits and nuts must macerate overnight.

Fruit and nuts
Cake
1

Prepare the fruit and nuts: Combine the dried fruits, almonds and brandy in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and macerate for 24 to 48 hours at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

2

Make the cake: Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda into a medium bowl.

3

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the almond paste, mixing until thoroughly combined. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla paste and mix for 30 seconds.

4

Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then add the dry ingredients and beat on low just until the batter is smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand.

5

Pour the macerated fruits and nuts, with their liquid, into the bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly distributed. Set the bowl aside for 30 minutes. (This resting time allows the batter to absorb the brandy.)

6

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Generously coat the bottom and sides of a 9 ½-by-5 ½-inch loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.

7

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Put the loaf pan on a cooling rack and let the cake cool for 1 hour.

8

Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on the rack, about 2 hours.

Almond Paste

1

Pour the almond flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until combined. Continue pulsing as you add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the paste comes together into a very lightly-sticky ball.

2

Remove the almond paste from the processor, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Makes 1 ½ cups.

Adapted from “Sweet” by Valerie Gordon (Artisan Books).
Make Ahead:
The cake can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or parchment, at room temperature for up to 6 weeks.