1 cup diced candied orange peel
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pitted prunes
1 cup chopped candied pineapple
½ cup dried currants
½ cup dried cherries
¼ cup finely chopped candied (crystallized) ginger
1 cup sweet sherry or vinegar
½ cup orange juice
1 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup ground almonds
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/4 cup + 1/2 cup sweet sherry or brandy
1 cup chopped pecans, plus an additional 1 1/2 cups of whole pecans for garnish (optional)
1. For the fruit soak, toss the candied orange peel and all of the dried and candied fruits together with the sherry (or brandy), orange juice, orange zest, lemon zest and ginger. Cover and chill this mixture at least overnight, up to 3 days, stirring occasionally.
1. Preheat the oven to 300 F and grease 2 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Beat the butter and brown sugar until well light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the ground almonds.
3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt and stir this into the batter. Stir in ¼ cup of the sherry or brandy. Fold the chopped pecans into the batter then add the soaked fruits, stirring well to coat the fruit. Spoon this into the prepared pans and spread to level. If you wish, arrange pecans on the top of the cakes in a ring. Bake the cakes for 2 hours and 15 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
4. While still hot from the oven, brush the tops of the fruitcakes with some of the remaining ½ cup of sherry or brandy. Brush again one or 2 more times as the cakes cool, then remove the cakes from their pans and wrap well.
5. The fruitcakes will keep for up to 8 weeks in a cool place, or can be frozen for up to 6 months.