Holiday baking, round 1: Christmas cake

I may be in the minority here, but I grew up regarding Christmas cake, as my family calls fruitcake, as a special treat — something to be savoured in small slivers after a turkey dinner.
My mother made this fruitcake for decades, wrapping and mailing or hand delivering it to our grandparents, great-grandmother and occasionally aunts and uncles. The recipe makes a large, dense cake in an angel food cake pan. My maternal grandmother cuts hers into sections and freezes it, bringing it out for guests such as her bridge group throughout the year.
When my older brother and I left home for university, Mom began making smaller cakes for us to take back after the holiday break. It was one treat I never had to share with my roommates.
Two years ago, Mom passed the cake-making duties on to me.
The numbers of recipients have dwindled on my side. But, having married into a family of fruitcake lovers, I’ve added a few others to the list.
So, every November, I visit the bulk store and fill a cart with candied cherries, diced mixed fruit, orange peel, raisins, pecans and walnuts, and then spend a few days stirring and baking. For the past couple of years, I’ve made three of these enormous cakes — one for my maternal grandparents and two others to be divided among parents and siblings.
This year, however, my grandmother requested a smaller cake. I bought some new cake pans and used one recipe to make three cakes — 15 cm, 20 cm, 23 cm. I gifted the medium-sized one to my grandparents at our annual extended family gathering this past weekend. David and I have been sampling the smallest. Slices of the larger one will be part of a tray of sweets we take to David’s family for Christmas and served to guests, including my immediate family who we are hosting on Dec. 27.
I had thought to make a second batch, but when my oven died Nov. 25, it seemed as though fate telling me one was enough this year. If I get a “Where’s the fruitcake?” or two from our relatives maybe I’ll up my quota again next year.

Christmas cakes.

Christmas cake
225 g (8 oz) candied green cherries
225 g (8 oz) candied red cherries
900 g (32 oz) diced mixed fruit
110 g (4 oz) candied orange peel
250 mL (1 cup) dark seedless raisins
375 mL (1-1/2 cups) walnut halves
500 mL (2 cups) pecan halves
875 mL (3-1/2 cups) all purpose flour
454 g (1 pound) butter, softened
375 mL (1-1/2) cups sugar
6 eggs
5 mL (1 tsp) salt

Line 25-cm (10-inch) tube pan with foil, smooth.
Cut cherries in half.
In large bowl or pot, combine cherries, 175 mL (3/4 cup) of liqueur, remaining fruit and nuts. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in 500 mL (2 cups) flour until fruit is coated.
In another bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add eggs, salt, remaining flour and liqueur and beat until well mixed.
Bake at 300 Fahrenheit for 2-1/2 hours or until cake passes the toothpick test.
Keep refrigerated. Freezes well.


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