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Just mention the word `fruitcake' to most people and you lose their attention. Most people have one thing to say about fruitcake…"Yuck! I hate fruitcake". Well, I am here to change your mind.

I have never been a fan of fruitcake. I just don't like the candied stuff that goes into it. It just seems unnatural to me. So I have been on a quest to find a fruitcake recipe that I, as well as other `fruitcake haters', would like.  And I think I have accomplished the task.

I found a recipe that used no candied fruit, but was chock full of nuts, raisins, dates and apricots. So I set off to the store to gather my ingredients.

Back at home, I laid my bounty on the counter and got started with my experiment. I mixed the fruit the night before, added the batter the next morning and popped them in the oven. Soon a wonderful aroma filled my house. I assured myself this was a good sign.

About an hour and a half later the buzzer sounded. Opening the oven door revealed a wonderful, golden loaf. Following the cooling period, I sliced into the cake. It was very moist and smelled great. But what really matters is the taste.

I can honestly say this is the best fruitcake I have ever eaten. A great homey taste with loads of fruit and nuts. So I am passing along this recipe to all the fruitcake haters and lovers out there. Try this one. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Holiday Fruitcake

1 ½ cup Raisins
1 ½ cup Golden Raisins
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped almonds
2 cups chopped dates
1 cup chopped, dried apricots
3 tsp fresh grated lemon peel
3 tsp fresh grated orange peel
1 jar(161/2 oz) Natural Style applesauce
1 can Red Tart pitted cherries
8 medium eggs
1 ½ cups honey
1 cup oil
4 tsp baking soda
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached flour

In a large bowl, mix together raisins, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, dates, apricots, lemon peel, orange peel and applesauce. Drain cherries and pat dry with a paper towel. Add to the fruit and nut mixture and let stand 2-3 hours or overnight. Beat the eggs, honey and oil. Add baking soda, whole-wheat flour and unbleached flour, one third at a time. Pour batter over fruit and nut mixture and mix well. Pour batter into 3 greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool. Remove from pans. Let stand on wire racks for 3-4 hours. Seal tightly and store 2-3 weeks to enhance flavor.

If desired, soak cheesecloth in ½ cup brandy for each cake and wrap around cakes. Wrap in foil, seal, and store in a cool, dry place. Keep 2-3 weeks before serving. Drizzle cakes once a week with ¼ cup brandy each.

*Here are a couple of hints for this recipe. Use a really big bowl. This makes a large amount of batter. Cook each cake separately in the oven unless you have a really big oven. This will ensure the cakes are evenly cooked.