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Prep Time: 3½ Hours
Yields: 6 (4-pound) Cakes

The fruitcake may have originated in ancient Egypt or the Roman Empire. The confection was, and still is, widely loved in England where it was originally called plum cake and was served at weddings and other celebrations. How the fruitcake made it to Louisiana is hard to determine. Nevertheless, fruitcake is commonplace on the Christmas table in Bayou Country.

2 pounds candied dried fruit mix
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup golden raisins
1 pound dates
1 cup whiskey
1½ cups port wine
½ pound butter
½ pound sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 ounces pure vanilla extract
4 (11.5-ounce) jars fig preserves
1½ cups brewed coffee
5 cups flour
1 pound chopped pecans
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice
1 cup red cherries in juice
1 cup green cherries in juice
30 red cherry halves for decorating
30 green cherry halves for decorating
30 pecan halves for decorating

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine candied dried fruit mix, raisins, dates, whiskey and wine. Blend well and allow to marinate at room temperature approximately 30 minutes. Grease and flour 6 standard loaf pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Set aside. In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, continuing to blend. Fold in baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and fig preserves. Continue to blend on medium speed until well mixed. Pour in coffee then add flour, 1 cup at a time, blending until mixture is smooth. Pour contents into mixing bowl with marinating fruit. Fold in pecans, pineapple and whole cherries. Using a rubber spatula, blend until ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour mixture into greased pans and bake 35 minutes. Open oven, carefully slide shelf out and decorate top of each cake with 5 red and green cherry halves and 5 pecan halves. Slide cakes back into oven. Reduce temperature to 250°F and bake approximately 2½ hours. Cakes are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cakes approximately 30 minutes then remove from pans, cover with wax paper and wrap well in foil. These cakes may be frozen or stored in an airtight tin for later use. NOTE: You may wish to leave cake in baking pan after it has cooled and marinate with a teaspoon of your favorite brandy or cognac each week for 1 month prior to eating. During this period, tightly wrap cake pan and refrigerate.


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