—From Leite’s Culinaria
Occasionally, I get it in my head that I would like to bake a gift for a loved one for their birthday. I love to give gifts, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to purchase. However, I believe a baked treat never goes astray! For this week’s recipe, the person on my mind was my sister-in-law, Carli. She has a busy life, running her own boutique as well as supporting her husband who runs his own medical practice. Despite their busy lives, Carli and her husband, Paul, are careful to set aside time for each other in the evenings to sit down with a wine or a gin to reconnect, share and plan for the future. In my mind’s eye, I imagined them enjoying a delicious fruit and nut cake as they decompressed and celebrated Carli’s birthday month.
I set about searching for such a recipe, and fairly quickly came upon Leite’s Culinara’s Dried Fruit and Nut Cake that was exactly what I was looking for. It looked decadent and rich, a perfect companion to an evening’s gin and chat. I was drawn in by the variety of rich dried fruits, walnuts and brown sugar. It sounded like a level up from the stock-standard fruit and nut cake; perfect for a birthday treat.
I usually like to draw from my grandma’s recipe book, but in this case I had a specific recipe in mind and wanted to try something a little more sophisticated. It also gives me the chance to review a recipe from a different cooking website, rather than test out one of my own like I normally do. In typical Briony style, I just went with my gut and trusted that Leite’s Culinaria’s Dried Fruit and Nut Cake recipe was a good one, neglecting to test it out and risking doing the bake the night prior to meeting up with Carli.
I was in my element late in the evening, watching Ted Lasso, drinking tea and baking this cake! I had decided to double the recipe to make two cakes (because we needed to taste test!), and I soon realised that this recipe called for A LOT of dried fruit. Like, the cake was literally dried fruit and nuts, glued together with the most minimal amount possible of egg and flour, and some brown sugar to develop the flavours. It was going to be yum! Kind of like a Stained Glass Window cake, except this one you would slice extremely thin and feel extra fancy.
Finally by midnight my cakes were done and I was able to rest. The next day I was up early to wrap one of the cakes (peep the pics for the cutest display), ready to hand it over Carli at a school excursion. The other I was to take to my brother’s house to enjoy together at a family dinner.
Anyways, Carli loved it! And felt really blessed that I had considered her in this way. I was so happy she enjoyed it, and we both had some leftovers to bring with us on the Easter camping trip that we went away together on that weekend. Being married to someone who runs their own business I know how all-consuming it can be, so it’s nice to be able to lighten their load and help them to pause for a minute and enjoy life a little.
So, whether you are looking to make a pretty little gift like I did, looking for some Christmas in July baking ideas or you are just wanting a bit of next level Fruit Cake indulgence this Dried Fruit and Nut Cake is for you! Here is the link to the Leite’s Culinara’s website if you want to check it out: https://leitesculinaria.com/2952/recipes-dried-fruit-and-nut-cake.html
I highly recommend this recipe, and sent the link to the birthday girl and my mother-in-law also. Enjoy!
- ¾ cup (3.4 ounces) all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (5.25 ounces) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar or raw sugar such as light muscovado or grated piloncillo
- 1 cup dried apricots, plums, pluots, pears, or peaches, or a mixture (to measure, leave apricots or similar-size fruit whole and cut larger fruit in halves or thirds)
- 2 cups quartered moist dates, or any other favourite dried fruits
- 3 cups (12 ounces) walnut halves
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300F (150C). Spray the loaf pans (either one 9-by-5-inch 8-cup loaf pan or two 8-by-4-inch 4-cup loaf pans) with vegetable oil spray or line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt to combine. Add the brown sugar, all the dried fruit, and the nuts, and mix thoroughly with your fingers. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla until light. Pour the egg mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands until all the fruits and nuts are coated with batter. Scrape into the prepared pans.
- Bake until the top is deep golden brown and the batter clinging to the fruit seems set, about 1 hour for smaller loaves, 10 to 15 minutes longer for a large loaf. Tent loosely with foil if the cake appears to be browning too much. Cool completely in the pans on a rack.
- When completely cool, remove the cake from the pans.
- To serve, cut into thin slices with a sharp heavy knife.