I am not one for the candied fruits you find in stores this time of the year. Mainly, because even though I grew up eating fruit cake, Stollen bread, and other desserts at Christmas, the fruit is so processed and dyed, that it's not natural to me! (Sorry, I have issues with this stuff, even though I do use just the citron in this one!) So, I've developed this style using the soaked bourbon cherries and raisins to add a real punch of flavor. (Some traditional recipes will actually soak the bread after baking in rum or bourbon.) I love this bread because it's not heavy or dense, but has a lighter texture, (due to the folded in egg whites), and the dried fruits and nuts are not over-done, but just enough flavors to harmonize well together, and really stud the batter with all kinds of goodness! If you want to add a different nut, or switch up some of the dried fruits, go ahead! But this bread is traditionally made for a reason, it's delicious, not overly sweet, and is really quite simple to make- a real treat to serve for the holiday!
Yield: 1 standard loaf
1/4 cup of dried sweet cherries ***or can also use chopped dried figs
1/4 cup of raisins
About 1-2 oz. Bourbon or Rum
***If you do not wish to use the alcohol, omit all together, and just add the dried cherries (or figs) and raisins in with the nuts, chocolate and citron.
1 stick of unsalted butter (room temp. and/or softened)
1/2 cup of powdered sugar (divide in half)
4 eggs (separated)
1 1/2 t. of baking powder
1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup of citron (or candied fruit) ***available in most stores this time of year
1/4 cup of chopped (blanched) or slivered almonds
1/4 cup of chocolate chips or grated chocolate
additional powdered sugar for finishing
1) The night before making, place the dried cherries and raisins in a small storage container, (or 1 cup bowl with lid), and pour enough rum or bourbon to just cover the dried fruit. (About 1-2 oz.) Place the lid on, and leave at room temp. (Overnight, the dried fruit will literally soak up all of that alcohol, and will add amazing flavor to the bread!)
2) Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 1 standard bread loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the softened 1 stick of butter with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Then, beat in the egg yolks.
3) In a separate mixing bowl, beat up the egg whites, slowly adding in the other 1/4 of powdered sugar after whites become "frothy". Beat up the "snow" until the egg white mixture is at "soft peak stage". (Nice and fluffy- but not "stiff".)
4) Using a spatula, carefully fold in half of the flour & baking powder to the egg yolk and butter mixture. Then, fold in half of the egg white mixture, then the rest of the flour and baking powder, and finally, the rest of the egg white mixture. At the very end, lightly fold in all of the nuts, chocolate, citron, and the bourbon soaked cherries & raisins. (Yes, the little bit of bourbon left is fine- as long as it's not more than a Tablespoon or so!)
Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. (The batter will only fill it about half- 3/4 full!)
Bake at 350F for 40-55 min. (Check at 40min. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean if it's done!)
**This bread will not bake up to the top of a standard pan, in fact, the loaf itself will end up being about 1/2 the pan in depth.
When bread is done, remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 10-15min. before flipping out to place on a cooling rack. When the bread is cooled, simply dust with powdered sugar, slice, and serve with a hot cup of coffee or tea!
The bread is excellent for breakfast, "tea time", or after a meal with some other holiday treats. (Just know that the alcohol will still be prevalent in taste even after baking!)