Torta Negra (Venezuelan Fruitcake)

This fruitcake, studded with dried fruit, spices and nuts is at the center of the holiday celebration in Venezuela. What makes this cake very moist and interesting is the maceration of the dried fruits in rum. I find that macerating the fruits a week in advance or overnight works great.

  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • ½ cup dried figs, chopped
  • ½ cup raisins, chopped
  • ¼ cup candied orange peel
  • 1 ½ cup rum
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon all spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped
  • ½ cup hazelnut, chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

Chop the dried fruits and orange peel in ¼ inch pieces. Soak the dry fruit in rum overnight (better a week or two in advance). Chop the nuts coarsely. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch tall cake pan with non-stick spray, then line with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. With the mixer on low speed, mix the butter and sugar until white and fluffy (around 5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well at moderate speed, then mix in the vanilla. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes or so to lighten and smooth the batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in the dry ingredients. Add the fruits and nuts and mix all the ingredients together. Bake it at 350°F for about 1 hour or until the cake feels firm when pressed in the center and is golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.