q 4 cups water
q 1 cup each, dried: chopped apricots, cherries, currants, chopped prunes
q 1 cup each: dark raisins, golden raisins
q 1 pound pitted dried dates, chopped
q 3 cups flour
q 1 teaspoon salt
q 1 teaspoon baking powder
q 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
q 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature 3 cups sugar
q 6 eggs
q 1/4 cup brandy or dark rum
q 1 tablespoon vanilla
q 1 cup sour cream
q 1 cup roasted pistachios, chopped
q 8 medium-size pieces candied ginger, finely chopped, optional
q Zest of 1 orange, grated, optional
n Prep: 25 minutes
n Stand: 2 hours
n Cook: 1 hour, 10 minutes
n Makes: 4 (9-by-4-inch) loaves, about 48 slices
n 1. Heat the water to a boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; add the apricots, cherries, currants, prunes, and dark and golden raisins. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat; stir in the dates. Let stand until completely cooled and the fruit has plumped, about 2 hours. (This step can be done ahead of time; refrigerate the fruit until needed.)
n 2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.
n 3. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy; gradually add the sugar. Continue beating until creamed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after adding each until incorporated. Add the brandy and vanilla; beat 2 minutes. Lower speed to low. Slowly add half of the flour mixture, then half of the sour cream, beating just until blended in; repeat. Continue mixing 2 minutes.
n 4. Fold in the fruit mixture, pistachios, candied ginger and orange zest until thoroughly incorporated. Divide batter among four greased and floured 9-by-4-inch loaf pans. Bake until the top of each loaf is firm to the touch, about 1 hour.
n Adapted from Dan McCauley of A Taste of Heaven bakery. If you omit any one of the fruits, he says to be sure increase the proportion of another fruit to compensate.
n Nutrition information per serving: 224 calories, 26% of calories from fat, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 39 mg cholesterol, 40 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 84 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.