Apricot Pecan Fruitcake
2-1/2 packages (6 ounces each) dried apricot halves (2-1/2 cups), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups pecans (8 ounces), coarsely chopped, plus 2/3 cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon plus 2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks), softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 cup brandy
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup apricot preserves
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 9- to 10-inche tube pan.
In medium bowl, toss apricots and coarsely chopped pecans with 1 tablespoon flour. In another medium bowl, combine remaining 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
In large bowl with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, brandy, vanilla, and flour mixture; beat until well blended, scraping bowl. Stir in apricot mixture.
Spoon batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Arrange pecan halves on top of batter in two concentric circles. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour 10 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Run thin knife around cake to loosen from side and center tube of pan; lift tube to separate from bottom of pan. Invert cake on to wire rack and remove center tube. Turn cake, right side up, onto rack to cool completely.
In 1-quart saucepan, heat apricot preserves over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until melted and bubbling. Strain through sieve set over small bowl. With pastry brush, brush cooled cake with preserves. Or wrap cake and refrigerate up to 1 week, then brush with preserves before serving.
Yield: 24 servings