Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fruitcake, part one

Time for Fruitcake

Oh that much maligned symbol of the Christmas season, butt of jokes, harbinger of doom when someone is presented with a commercial or dry fruitcake.   But for me, the start of the holiday season is when I bake my fruitcake so that it has time to ripen.

And I know it's only the beginning of October, but I like to get started on some of this stuff early.

OK, so I'm not going to run down to the kitchen and make it today, but I'm ready.

A few years ago, in the interests of expediency I elected to bake my fruitcake in the crock-pot.  Well, either I'm not as good at using a crock-pot as I thought I was or it was a stupendously bad idea, or I just didn't do the math.   Either way, I ended up with something that wasn't even edible, even with the addition of a bottle of rum.   And this was after cutting off the outside where it had been really burnt.  So, if you choose to do this, do the math, get to know your crockpot really well, and then go ahead and bake it in the oven.  And then there was the waste of a good bottle of rum, a waste, I tell you.  Not to mention all the other good stuff.
But the rum...

Here's my major hint though.  After the Christmas season, I buy the preserved fruit, the candied mixed peel, the 'neon green' cherries, the 'smack you in the face red' cherries, and the mixture of cherries and pineapple.  They're usually on clearance and will probably have a sell by date of the next year, so you can put them into your pantry, on the top shelf, and forget that they're there.
Oh, wait a minute, that's me.  I didn't make a fruitcake last year, so I kinda put the fruit up after Xmas and umm, just noticed it again today.

I'm making a fruitcake this year.

Let me tell you how I do it, and the recipe I've tweaked and twiddled with for years.   And it's good, but not half as good as either one of the fruitcakes my sisters make.   But, I'm still trying.  And I like mine, but when I get a chance to eat theirs, I don't say no.   I've even been known to beg for a taste. 


I always start my fruitcake by roasting whatever nuts I'm going to use a day or so beforehand, I've found that the richness of the roasted nuts adds a nice nuance to the finished fruitcake.   You can use a mixture of pecans and walnuts, but in the past I've used walnuts and almonds and had a lovely result.  Actually, I like using a mixture of all of them, but it also kinda depends on the price of the nuts as well.  They can be really pricy. 

I'm going to share some pictures I've taken in the past of my fruitcakes. 

 One thing to remember, baking fruitcakes is a long slow process, you bake them in a low, slow oven.   I bake them for 2 1/2   hours at 275-300 deg.  And check them with a toothpick to make sure they're done

 Here is the recipe, at least for right now.  I may make some changes to it again, this year.

Sid's Fruit Cake
8 oz brown sugar
¾ lb butter
2 oz brandy (I only had a couple of ounces of brandy or I would have added more)
3 oz marzipan   (this was a last minute idea and addition to the recipe, and adds a nice nuance)
6 eggs
12 oz flour + 1 tsp. Baking powder sifted together with
1 tsp. (approx) ground cardamon  ( I decided to try Cardamon this year as I had a bunch on hand)
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt
Put all the nuts, fruit and mixed peel in a large bowl.
Toss all together with a couple tablespoons of flour.
This helps to keep the fruit and nuts from sinking to the bottom of the pan.
8 oz pecans (toasted)
8 oz walnuts (toasted)
8 oz chopped almonds, (toasted) Keep a few out for decorations if you like.
8 oz candied red cherries
8 oz candied green cherries
8 oz mixed cherries, pineapples
8 oz candied mixed peel
6 oz Craisins
8 oz dates
8 oz golden raisins

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the brandy, beating well, then add the eggs,one at a time, beating well after each egg.
Add half the flour mix, mix well, then add the second half of the flour.

Pour batter over nuts and fruit and mix together.
Fruitcake mix

Place in greased and parchment paper lined pans and bake in a 275-300 deg. Oven for 2 1/2  hours
until a toothpick inserted in pan comes out clean.   Start checking for done-ness at the 2   hour mark. 

After taking them out of the oven, pour a couple ounces of rum over the top to start the marinating process.     I like to let them cool a little but do pour the alcohol over them while they are still warm.
Wrap them well in cheesecloth or a good flour-sack towel and then again in aluminum foil.    After that, place them in a cool, dark place and just 'feed' them every week with another ounce or so of rum once a week.    Not only does this add flavour, but it also helps to preserve them.   And in the unlikely event you have some fruitcake left over after Christmas, you can continue to 'feed' them every month or so until you've eaten them all up.
* I usually add currants as well, but didn't have any. 
This recipe makes 2 loaf pans.

Come to think of it, I think I need to call my sisters and get their fruitcake recipes.   
Sidsel Munkholm - Author
Sidsel Munkholm - Author

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

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