Margi’s Tu B’Shevat Fruitcake

Recipe By Margi Lenga Kahn

Expect to have a slight depression down the center of this cake. It is characteristic of fruit-laden cakes and does not impact flavor or appearance.  If preferred, the cakes can be sprinkled with powdered sugar before slicing. 

1 cup golden raisins

¼ cup currants

½ cup chopped dates

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½ cup whole black mission figs, stemmed and chopped 

Grated zest of one large orange

4 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (available at Whole Foods and Global Foods Markets)

2 tbsp. plus 1 cup orange juice, divided

1 cup sugar

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large eggs

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 1/2  teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ cup barley flakes (available in bulk section of Whole Foods Markets)

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts

*Soaking option — see note below

The night before you plan to make this cake, combine dried fruits, zest, pomegranate molasses, and 2 tbsp. orange juice in a small pan. Warm over low heat for 3 minutes, stir, and remove from heat. Cover pan and let sit at room temperature overnight.  

To continue with recipe the following day, add remaining 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup sugar, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to pan of fruit mixture. Stir over low heat for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat. Transfer fruit mixture to a large mixing bowl and gradually whisk in butter. When butter is melted, whisk in eggs.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch bundt pan and generously sprinkle with flour. Alternatively, spray a 10-inch loaf pan and cover with two pieces of parchment paper to fit pan, one going lengthwise and the other widthwise, so that the entire pan is covered with parchment paper. (I divided the batter between a 6-inch bundt pan and an 8-inch loaf pan- both were equally easy to remove from their pans.) Set aside.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl. 

Place barley flakes into a spice grinder or food processor and grind until flakes resemble coarse flour. Whisk barley into flour mixture. Pour dry ingredients over fruit mixture and gently stir together with a wooden spoon just until all traces of flour disappear. Fold in nuts.

Pour mixture into prepared pan(s). Place in oven and bake for 50-65 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick inserted in center of cake. Begin checking at the 50-minute mark. When toothpick comes out clean, cake is done.  

Set pan on a cooling rack for 3 minutes, and then carefully turn cake out of pan onto cooling rack.

When cake cools completely, wrap in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Let wrapped cake remain at room temperature for at least 8 hours before serving. Cakes can be made up to 7 days in advance. Cake can also be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes 10-12 servings.

* Note: If you can’t imagine a fruitcake without rum, you can adapt this one in the following way:

Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to completely cover cooled cake. Soak cheesecloth in rum and thoroughly wrap cake in cloth. Use the storing method above. 

The cake can be further moistened with rum throughout the week by brushing cheesecloth with additional rum, then re-wrapping.