When Susan Houston of Tucker, Georgia, sent in this recipe, she wrote that the taste of the cake reminded her of her childhood home. Every year, her father sat at the kitchen table cracking pecans, while her mother stood at the kitchen counter mixing the batter for this traditional holiday treat. When this baking ritual began, Susan didn’t need to consult the calendar for Santa’s arrival. “It was the signal that Christmas really was coming when this heavenly smell filled the kitchen,” she remembered. This Japanese Fruitcake, published in the November, 1990, issue of Southern Living, quickly became a reader favorite. Many love the cake because it does not contain any candied fruit, and others simply love the cake because it is a delicious spice-filled cake with tasty Lemon-Coconut frosting. Whatever the secret, this cake has remained a beloved holiday dessert for over 25 years.
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup raisins
Pecan halves, for topping
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water, divided
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 medium coconut, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)
How to Make It
Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Pour one-third of batter into a greased and floured 9-inch round cake pan. Stir cinnamon and next 3 ingredients into remaining batter; pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350˚ for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Prepare the Lemon-Coconut Frosting: Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup water; set aside. Bring remaining 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Return to a boil, and cook to soft ball stage (236˚), stirring often. Gradually stir in cornstarch mixture; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in coconut. Cool. Stir frosting just before spreading on cake.
Spread Lemon-Coconut Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake, stacking white layer between spiced layers. Garnish, if desired.