Food & Drink

Amanda Rockman Shares Her Fruitcake Recipe

A fresh take on the old-school sweet

Everyone’s talking about Nico Osteria, the latest addition to Chicago’s One Off Hospitality Group’s mini empire (Avec, Blackbird, The Publican, Big Star, Publican Quality Meats).

We’re enthralled by all of it — not least by pastry chef Amanda Rockman’s (The Bristol, Balena) menu, teeming with inspired takes on Italian classics.

When we asked her to share a holiday recipe, she offered her elegant take on the stodgy classic: fruitcake. Really? Really. We had to ask her a few follow-up questions.

Were you forced to eat fruitcake when you were younger?
No, I’m part of the Chosen People. I first had fruitcake when I worked at The Peninsula.

We assume your fruitcake is designed to dismiss people’s memories of bad fruitcake. How is it different?
Unlike bad fruitcake, ours is incredibly moist. To start, we soak the dried fruit in brandy. The drunken fruit is then folded into a butter cake and baked to perfection. We glaze the cake with orange brandy and serve.

Any hints about dishes we can expect in the new year?
Our breakfast and lunch service just launched. A few highlights are our chestnut coffee cake and kouign-amann (we call them “queens” in the kitchen).

amanda rockman dessert!

Amanda Rockman’s Fruitcake
Serves eight to twelve

For the cake
2⅓ c. butter, room temperature
1⅓ c. sugar
6 eggs
2¾ c. all-purpose flour
4 c. soaked fruit (recipe below)
¼ tsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 325° and spray a 12-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. With a handheld or stand mixer, paddle butter and sugar until light. Add eggs individually, scraping down bowl as you mix. Add flour and mix to incorporate. Finally, stir in soaked fruit (recipe below) and zest.

3. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate 180° and bake for another 15 minutes. Cake is done when knife inserted into center comes out clean. (Timing will vary according to oven temperature. If top starts to get too brown, cover with foil and continue baking.)

4. After removing from oven, brush loaf with brandy-orange-sugar glaze (recipe below).

5. Let cool and serve at room temperature. If not serving right away, cool, wrap, and store in fridge overnight.

amanda rockman dessert!

For the soaked fruit
½ c. golden raisins
½ c. currants
½ c. dried cranberries
½ c. dried apricots
½ c. dried cherries
2 c. brandy

1. Mix all ingredients in large bowl, cover, and soak overnight.

For the sugar glaze
2½ c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk powder
1 c. orange juice
4 tbsp. brandy

1. Pour all ingredients into a bowl and stir. Use immediately. (Use judgment when mixing; if glaze is too thick or loose, adjust to your preference.)

Visiting Chicago? Head to Nico Osteria, 1015 North Rush Street, at East Bellevue Place (312-994-7100 or nicoosteria.com).

amanda rockman dessert!

Photos: Kaitlyn McQuaid for DailyCandy

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1015 N Rush St
@ E Bellevue Pl
Chicago, IL 60611