Here’s our alternative to “traditional” holiday fruitcake. It’s light in both color and crumb; well-proportioned with dried fruit, nuts, and a dash of rum; and enticingly spiced.
Find this recipe and many more delicious treats in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking cookbook.
At least 1 hour before you start baking, combine the pineapple, raisins, nuts, ginger, rum, and zest in a large bowl. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. While the fruit soaks, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and five-spice powder in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan; line the bottom and two long sides with parchment paper, if desired. Set aside.
Combine the milk and cottage cheese in a blender and process until smooth. Set aside. Using an electric mixer on medium-high, cream the butter in a large bowl, gradually adding the sugar and beating to blend. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat on low to blend. Using a wooden spoon, add one third of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and stir until evenly combined. Add half of the milk mixture and stir to blend. Repeat, ending with the remaining dry ingredients. Fold the fruit mixture into the batter until combined.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon. Bake on the center oven rack for 60 to 70 minutes, until a tester inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.
A blend of ground anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, and peppercorns, this spice is often used with roasted meats and stir-fries in traditional Chinese cooking. In baking, it adds an exotic “sparkle” and aroma to cakes, breads, cookies, and more. The blended spice is widely available, but to make your own, combine 2 teaspoons of anise seed, 1-½ teaspoons of fennel seeds, and 1-½ of teaspoons peppercorns in a clean coffee grinder or spice mill. Grind to a fine powder. Add 1-½ teaspoons of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of ground cloves. Grind a few seconds more, to combine. Store in an airtight container.