Real Fruit Fruitcake!

Yes, this is the real thing, nothing at all artificial, red, green or gold in this one! DELICIOUS!

Ready for the adventure? Here it is:

2 cups raisins
2 cups currants
2 cups dried apricot halves
2 cups dried fig halves
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup pitted dates
4 cups walnuts - large pieces
2 cups pecans - large pieces
3 oranges, grated - zest only
3 lemons, grated - zest only
1/2 cup candied ginger - chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup molasses
2 cups brandy or apple juice
1/2 cup orange liqueur or orange juice
4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound butter (yes, the real thing)
3 cups brown sugar
8 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla (yes, the real thing)

The day before, combine all dried fruits, nuts and zest in a very large mixing bowl. Add the candied ginger and spices. Toss well to mix. Add the molasses and liquids and mix well. Oh yes, the scent will be heavenly! Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Grease (4) 9x5x3 loaf pans, then flour. Sprinkle 1 cup of flour over the fruit mixture and stir it in. Combine remaining 3 cups of flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift if needed. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat well. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. Add all dry ingredients and beat until batter is blended and smooth.

Pour this over the fruit, mix well until everything is coated with the batter. Divide the batter among the loaf pans filling them to 1/2 inch below the top of the pan. Bake for 2 hours. Don't worry if they crack on top. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Added bonus: we sometimes make these the day after Thanksgiving and tenderly add a few teaspoons every few days of grand marnier or orange liqueur before we serve them or give them as gifts.