Fruitcake lovers (and haters) unite!


When I was first married, I obtained 2 Silver Palate cookbooks. Honestly, I don’t remember if I bought them myself or if they were gifts. Either way, they have been a mainstay in my kitchen for years! I would easily bet that there’s not one bad recipe in either cookbook! Now some of the recipes are not for novice cooks, and many require more ingredients than you might want to buy. But if you’re looking to impress people, these recipes will do it!

As you know from my previous post, I love St. Nicholas Day. When I first saw this recipe, I was drawn to it by the name. I thought it would be a nice tradition to begin even though I hate fruitcake (please don’t make me explain my crazy thinking process!). So, I made it with no intention of eating it myself. I think I must have been having one of my many Christmas teas or open houses that I loved to throw back in the day. Of course, after I made the cake, I needed to taste it before serving it, and guess what? I loved it! Throughout the years, I’ve come up with a few ways to change it to suit my tastes even better. Each year I throw in a different dried fruit, depending on what I have on hand from other recipes or what I can easily find. I’ve used dried unsweetened cherries (one of my favorites), raisins, dried cranberries, etc. I always include the dried apricots, which were not in the original Silver Palate recipe, but should have been in my estimation. This year I also had some dried apples and decided to use them up in the recipe. The main characters are always the dates and walnuts, so make sure you find juicy, fresh medjool dates (very important) and fresh walnuts that don’t taste old. After that, it doesn’t really matter what you add!

Theoretically, this cake should be make shortly after Thanksgiving so it has time to sit a week or two before serving it on St. Nicholas Day. But it never fails that I’m tired of cooking right after Thanksgiving, so I don’t get around to preparing it until December--sometimes early in the month and sometimes later. Well, last night I finally decided to watch a Christmas movie while I whipped this cake together. It’s really pretty easy.

This is all part of my goal to have most of my cooking out of the way before my kids come into town, so we can just enjoy each other’s company. I’ve already made some of my kids’ favorite easy meals and frozen them, so now it’s time to make some sweets. (If I make them too early, they might be gone by the time my kids arrive!) Since my daughter is gluten sensitive, I started thinking that this cake might be a great one to convert to a gluten free version. It doesn’t call for much flour and it doesn’t rise either. The flour just binds it together.

I pulled out the ingredients I had been compiling, looked at my Silver Palate, and got to work! I’m sharing the recipe with you here. Give it a try. Even if you hate fruitcake, you might find that you like this one! You’ll see from the ingredients that it’s a relatively healthy dessert. It will satisfy your sweet tooth, and a little slice goes a long way.

P.S. You can substitute the gf flour with whole wheat flour and leave out the tapioca starch if you want. I must confess I like the taste and texture of wheat flour better, but for a gf alternative it’s pretty darn good!

ST. NICHOLAS CAKE – Gluten free

Adapted from The Silver Palate

3 cups medjool dates, pitted and cut in halves or quarters

3 cups walnut pieces or halves

½ cup chopped dried apricots

½ cup chopped dried apples (or any other dried fruit you like)

1 T. gluten-free all-purpose flour

3 eggs, separated

¼ cup raw turbinado sugar or succanat (or any sugar will do)

3 T. melted butter

2 T. cream

1 t. almond extract

1 t. vanilla

2/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 T. Tapioca Starch

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. baking powder

Place, in a large bowl, the dates, walnuts and dried fruit. Add 1 T. flour and mix to coat, using your hands to separate the dates and make sure they are all coated.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar, then beat in the cream and slightly cooled melted butter. Add the extracts. Sift in the flour and remaining ingredients. Stir until well blended.

Beat the egg whites and fold into the batter by first adding about ¼ of the whites, then adding the rest. Fold in the date mixture.

Line a loaf pan with foil or waxed paper and butter it will or spray with cooking oil. Otherwise this sticky loaf will stick to the pan or paper. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and pack it down lightly.

Cover with foil and bake at 325F for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20-30 minutes until the center is firm to the touch and is well browned.

Let cool in the pan, then turn out and peel off the foil. I find that it works best is I let it cool about an hour, then turn it out when it is still a little warm. If you do it too soon, it might break apart. Wrap the loaf in foil and plastic and store in a cool place for up to 2 weeks.

Chocolate lovers: add dark chocolate chips or glaze the cake with melted dark chocolate!

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© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™