Adapted from Alton Brown's free range fruitcake recipe
4 cups dried fruits of your choice (I used raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots and pineapple)
Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
1 cup gold rum
1 cup sugar
5 ounces margarine
1 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken
Brandy for basting and/or spritzing
Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests. Add rum and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit.
Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, margarine, apple juice and spices. Bring mixture to a boil stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes. (Batter can be completed up to this point, then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before completing cake.)
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture, vinegar and applesauce. Fold in pecans. Spoon into a 10-inch non-stick loaf pan (or two 9-inch non-stick loaf pans) and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done. If not, bake another 10 minutes, and check again.
Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack or trivet. Baste or spritz top with brandy and allow to cool completely before turning out from pan.
When cake is completely cooled, seal in a tight sealing, food safe container. Every 2 to 3 days, feel the cake and if dry, spritz with brandy. The cake's flavor will enhance considerably over the next two weeks. If you decide to give the cake as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient that they are very lucky indeed.
The verdict on the fruitcake before basting: delicious. Moist, dense and bursting with fruit flavors. I will taste it again in three weeks, when I present it to my parents as a present, and will update you on the flavor then!