Homemade fruitcake is much better than store-bought! And easy to make. Uses only dried fruit - no candied fruit here!
Combine fruit with its liquid, sugar, butter, apple juice, and spices in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. The fruit will plump up and the liquid will become syrupy. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes.
Once the fruit mixture is cool enough that it won't scramble the eggs, stir in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in orange and/or lemon extracts, if using. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder to the mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in nuts.
Pour into a greased or parchment-lined 10-inch loaf pan and bake at 325F for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If using 6 x 2.5 inch small paper loaf pans, fill 5 greased paper loaf pans and bake at 300F for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (This took me 35 minutes, most recently. Check early, though - you don't want dry fruitcake.)
Brush hot cake immediately with rum or brandy. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan to a cooling rack.
Store in an airtight container and brush with brandy every 2 or 3 days. (If not using alcohol in the cake, I recommend storing it in the fridge.)
Use whatever dried fruit you would like. It ends up being 617 grams, or 1 1/3 pounds, plus the candied ginger.
You can substitute apple juice/cider for the rum, and brush with apple cider after baking, to make this recipe alcohol-free. I recommend storing the fruitcake in the fridge if you do.
Adapted from Alton Brown. Cooking time for the large loaf pan is his; baking times for small loaves are mine.
Recipe updated 10/19/2018