I adore fruitcake. Some think that a controversial opinion. But I couldn’t have Christmas without it. Every year, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I make my classic Fruitcake. To be honest, I start in the summer by making bourbon Cherry Bounce to soak the cake, and I pour a good dose over every couple of days until Christmas. My mother and I are sometimes the only ones who eat it, but I simply can’t imagine the holiday without it. So when I came across a recipe for sweet potato fruitcake in a community cookbook, I had to make it. It was one of those old recipes with very few specific measurements and spotty instructions, so it took me awhile to get it right, but I did and I love it.
My favorite thing about this fruitcake is fruitcake for Thanksgiving! I get the immense pleasure of extending fruitcake season, which makes me very happy. This cake is colorful and beautiful on a cake stand on the Thanksgiving dessert spread. The sweet potato adds a lovely, earthy note and is a great counterpoint to pies and fluffy cakes. The cake keeps well for up to a week in an airtight container, but it doesn’t have to be made weeks ahead. The color and texture is a lighter than the traditional version, but no less rich and flavorful.
Fruitcake lovers unite!
- 1 ½ cups grated sweet potato (from about 1 large potato)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, separated
- 4 Tablespoons hot water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound chopped candied fruit
- 2 ½ cups chopped pecans
- ¼ cup bourbon
- Preheat the oven to 250. Spray a tube (not a Bundt) pan with baking spray (such as Baker’s Joy).
- Beat the sugar and the oil in the large bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment until pale and combined. Beat in the egg yolks until combined. Pour in the hot water and vanilla extract and beat until blended. Add the sweet potatoes and beat just until combined. Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and spices until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the candied fruit and nuts. Set aside.
- Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks in the small mixer bowl using the whisk attachment. Fold the whites into the batter in the large bowl using a sturdy spatula. This takes a little elbow grease, but don’t be too harsh, you still want the eggs whites to retain some air. Make sure the get the batter from the center of the bowl combined with the whites as well. Fold until the whites have completely disappeared into the batter.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan, making sure it is evenly distributed and the top is flat. Pick up the pan and drop it on the counter a few time to knock out any air bubbles.
- Bake the cake for 2 ½ hours. A tester inserted in the center should have a few crumbs clinging to it. When you remove it from the oven, immediately drizzle the bourbon over the top, very slowly. Leave to cool completely (even overnight covered with a towel) before removing it from the pan. The cake can be kept for a week in an airtight container.
- You can grate the sweet potatoes on a box grater or use the food processor grating blade. But then you have to clean the food processor.
- I separate the eggs putting the whites in the small mixer bowl and the yolks directly into the sugar and oil.
- My market sells mixed candied fruit during the holidays and I use that to make things easy. You can also make up your own blend of candied fruit (cherries, lemon peel, orange peel, pineapple etc.) and chop it finely, or toss it with a little flour and pulse in the food processor.
- The cake may crumble when you slice, but it can be easily pressed together and the taste is still delicious!