Makes 2 loaves or 7 mini-loaves
1½ cups dried pineapple
1½ cups sultanas or raisins
1 cup dried apricots, cubed
1½ cups dates, chopped
6 ounces candied cherries, cut in half (reserve some for top of cake, if you wish)
1/3 cup diced crystallized ginger, optional
¾ cup dark rum or brandy
1 cup (two sticks) butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark cocoa
½ cup golden or dark corn syrup
½ cup apple juice, cranberry juice or water
2 cups nuts (almonds, pecans or walnuts), roasted
Rum, brandy or vanilla syrup for topping
1. Combine the dried fruits in a nonreactive bowl. Add rum and enough water to cover; let soak overnight.
2. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease the baking pans. This recipe makes enough to fill two standard loaf pans, seven mini-loaf pans or 16 tiny loaf pans.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until soft. Add sugar, salt spices and baking powder. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa. Add half the flour mixture and the corn syrup to the batter, mixing well. Add remaining flour and juice and mix well. Gently fold in the dried fruits, any remaining liquid and nuts.
5. Spoon the batter into the pans, filling them about three-fourths full. Baking time varies depending on the pan size: 65 minutes for smallest loaves, 75 minutes for medium and 2 hours, 15 minutes for large loaves.
6. Remove cakes from oven, brush the tops with rum or brandy, then remove from pan. Brush all surfaces with rum, brandy or vanilla syrup. Wrap cakes in parchment paper, then foil and store in a cool, dry place. Unwrap cakes every week for up to five weeks and brush with syrup. The loaves will keep for several months as long as they are tightly wrapped.