market-hall-bakery-fruitcakeMarket Hall is known for exquisite foods, so when staff there swear that this fruitcake is the best they’ve ever tasted, you have to take note. Chef Sandy Sonnenfelt brought the recipe to Market Hall when she joined the company more than 19 years ago. Sonnenfelt, who grew up in South Africa, says the cake was a tradition in her family: “My mother made the fruitcake for my father’s patients. She would start making the cakes in October for Christmas. They would be given to families when he did house calls and it was also served in his waiting room. The cakes were covered in muslin and doused with brandy a few times while they sat. They were covered in marzipan and then iced.”

This may look like a long recipe, but it’s worth the effort, since it’s as chock-full of wonderful flavor as it is with ingredients. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with enough cake to enjoy some at home and give a few as gifts. The cake is a showcase for high-quality candied fruits, such as the dried Blenheim apricots and candied orange and citron peel from Agrimontana, available at the Market Hall shops in Rockridge and on Fourth Street. They also carry real morello cherries and candied melon to make the recipe even more outstanding.

Makes 4–5 small cakes (one pound each)

Fruitcake, dried Blenheim apricots, and candied citron cubes, all available at Market Hall. Photos courtesy of Market Hall.

Fruitcake, dried Blenheim apricots, and candied citron cubes, all available at Market Hall.
Photos courtesy of Market Hall.

Part 1 
2 cups pecan pieces
2 cups walnut pieces
1 cup sliced dried apricots
1 cup sliced dried figs
1 cup chopped candied orange peel
1 cup chopped candied citron
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup orange zest
1/4 cup lemon zest
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup brandy, plus extra for finishing

Part 2 
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Mix all Part 1 ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 275°. Butter and flour four or five 8- or 9-inch loaf pans. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand with a wooden spoon), mix the butter, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add two eggs and mix until fully incorporated. Add the last two eggs and the vanilla and mix to combine. Then add the fruit mixture and mix until the fruit is distributed evenly.

Divide the batter between your pans. If you don’t have enough pans, you can hold the batter in the refrigerator as needed. Bake approximately 100 minutes, rotating the pans after 40 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in their pans on a rack for 30 minutes. Pour 1 tablespoon brandy over each cake and allow to cool for an additional 45 minutes.