By the Gracious Vegan
Fruitcake without candied fruit, just dried fruit! What a joy! This recipe has been a long journey for me, but it's been worth it. It all started with a "Wall Street Journal" mention of a recipe by Brian Paul, which I can't find online anymore. I had to veganize it, and it took about 5 years (making it once a year) to get right. But now it works incredibly well, and it's delicious.
The Fruit and Rum. Chop everything up into small pieces with a heavy, sharp knife. (The vegan cake batter doesn’t hold large fruit pieces together well; having small pieces is key to the cake not crumbling.) Place in a gallon Ziplock bag. Of course, try your own combination of fruits if you like -- aim for a total of about 2 pounds of dried fruit.
Dried apples (6 oz.)
Dried pineapple (4 oz.)
Date bits (4 oz.)
Dried apricots (4 oz.)
Golden raisins, currants, or dried blueberries (4 oz.)
Dried cranberries (4 oz.)
Dried cherries (4 oz.)
Pour ¾ cup of Myers's dark rum (golden rum also fine) over the fruit bits, close the bag, toss them, and let them sit for a few hours to absorb the liquid. If they absorb the ¾ cup, add more in ¼-cup increments.
The Nuts. 1.5 pounds pecans, well chopped (again, the vegan cake batter has trouble holding large nut pieces together).
The Pans. I use four disposable 8” x 4” aluminum pans, or sometimes 3 of those plus 3 smaller pans (so that I can give them away as gifts). Loaf pans, ring molds, or other pans are fine, too. Coat aluminum pans with cooking oil spray. For others, spray and line with parchment paper. Don't use waxed paper.
The Batter. Whisk these together in a small bowl. Let sit 10 minutes while you prep the next ingredients.
3/4 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 Tablespoon Ener-G powder
Sift together in a bowl or bag
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2.5 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon mace
Combine these in a small bowl.
1/2 cup nondairy milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Start batter. Cream together 5 minutes or until fluffy
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine (room temperature)
Add flaxseed-Ener-G mixture and beat until combined.
Alternate dry and wet ingredients and use low speed to combine without over-beating.
Put the soaked fruit in a very large bowl—discard (or otherwise dispose of…hint hint) any extra rum that the fruit did not absorb.
Spoon the batter on top of the fruit in the large bowl, then add the nuts. Use a wooden spoon or just plunge in with your hands. Mix it all up. You will have a mixture that is mostly fruits and nuts with just enough batter to hold it together.
Assembly and Baking. Place the finished batter in the prepared pans, pressing down very well to fill in the corners. You can fill the pans almost to the brim because the cake will rise only slightly.
Place the pans in the lower third of a 275 degree oven for about 1 hour and 50 minutes, until a knife or testing stick comes out clean, the top is golden brown, and the fruit on top starts to change to darker colors. Timing is extremely variable. Small cakes will cook quicker, and larger cakes take longer. Test each cake separately and take it out as soon as your tester comes out clean. To paraphrase the old Orson Welles wine commercial: "We will take no fruitcake from the oven before its time."
When the cakes are done, let them cool on racks in their pans. When they are cool, use a plastic knife to loosen any stuck spots as you gently remove the cakes from the pans.
Sprinkle the cakes all over with rum or juice to get the outsides good and moist. Enclose them in plastic bags or, if you use aluminum pans, put them back in their pans and enclose the pans in plastic bags or cover well with plastic wrap or foil.
We like to eat one loaf starting on Day 2, like a Beaujolais wine. Other loaves we let mature in the refrigerator or other cool space for at least a couple of weeks to blend the flavors. If they seem to be getting dry, sprinkle on more liquid, but don't make them wet and soggy. After 3 months or so they lose their tastiness, so enjoy within 3 months.
For chocolate-covered fruitcake. Slice the fruitcake. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1.5 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Spoon and spread the chocolate on one side of the slices, laying each on a sheet of waxed paper, then coat the other side and let harden in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
Timing: About equal processed and unprocessed ingredients