chestercountyramblings

yes really…fruitcake

Anyone who mocks fruitcake has only had the kind that comes out of the catalog and can be put in a time capsule and be consumed 50 years in the future. That is the kind of fruitcake that is just basically like a sweet, sticky block of concrete.

I make white fruitcake. I saw somewhere once and then couldn’t find it again, where it was referred to as “grooms cake”. It’s made with good brandy or whiskey and it actually tastes good.

If you’re going to make any fruitcake, pick a day where you’re not going anywhere. Why? Simple, baking fruitcake is a multi hour, multiple bowl, slightly kitchen destroying process. I remember my mother baking late into the evenings during the holiday season to get her fruitcakes made. She made dark fruitcake.

I like to make my fruitcake ahead of time because the last step before putting it away in the refrigerator for Christmas is wrapping the fruitcake first in cheesecloth soaked in brandy.

The basis for my fruitcake recipe can be found in a 1959 edition of the Better Homes & Gardens Holiday Cookbook. But I have adjusted the recipe over the years and tweaked it a little.

Before I get into it, I order my candied fruit this year from a company called nuts.com. Used to buy only from Edwards Freeman in Conshohocken, but the quality and prices even with shipping are better at nuts.com. You can buy the candied fruit mixture, or individual candied fruits in the supermarket, but they are much more expensive.

Okay ready or not here’s the recipe:

4 cups of mixed diced candied fruits and peels for fruitcake (whole red cherries, diced orange peel, diced citron, diced lemon peel, chopped pineapple)

1/2 cup of chopped dates
3/4 cup chopped dried figs
1 1/3 cup white raisins
2 cups flake coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans
****
2 cups sifted white all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Small dash of green cardamom, mace, powdered ginger, cinnamon
****
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
5 eggs

Whole red candied cherries and pecan halves for decorating before placing in oven.

In a bowl mix fruits and peels, dates, figs, raisins, and coconut. Add pecans and walnuts.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and almond flour.

Take exactly 1/2 cup of the dry flour mixture and sprinkle over the candied fruit and nuts mixture and stir well.

Get a third bowl, and cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, and then add the 2 tablespoons of brandy.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, and then mix in the pineapple juice. Blend on low until everything is blended well into a batter.

Combine the batter and the dried fruits and nuts dusted in the flour mixture together and stir gently until well blended. Personally, I do this in yet another large mixing bowl. Actually I do this in my largest mixing bowl.

I take two 8 1/2 inch x 4 1/2 inch x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans and grease them with unsalted butter. I then line pans on all sides with parchment paper, allowing 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch to stick up above the top of the pan.

I pour the fruit cake batter with all ingredients in it equally between the two pans.

On the top of the batter in each pan arrange to your specifications enough whole candied cherries and pecans to make an attractive pattern on top. I do mine in rows so they almost look like popcorn and cranberry garland for lack of a better description.

Turn the oven onto 275°F. This is not a recipe where you preheat the oven basically the entire time you’re mixing the batter. I only turn the oven on about five minutes before the fruitcakes go into it to bake.

Take a rectangular baking pan and fill it with 2 to 3 cups of hot water. Place that on the bottom shelf of the oven. This causes the cake to have better volume, better texture, and a shiny glaze.

Place your fruitcakes in the oven on the shelf above the pan with hot water. Please note you’re not placing the baking pans in the pan with hot water. That is a different process.

Bake fruitcakes in the 275° oven for 2 1/2 hours or until done. Please note dark fruitcake takes longer to bake, more like 3 to 3 1/2 hours

When the fruitcakes come out of the oven cool them for a while in their pans on racks on your countertop. Lift them gently out of the pans with the paper – the parchment paper makes handy handles.

Wrap the slightly warm fruitcakes in cheesecloth soaked in brandy. Then tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Don’t be afraid to use a couple layers. Finally wrap each fruitcake in heavy duty aluminum foil. You can put these in the refrigerator and forget about them until Christmas. I generally do my fruitcakes about now, and some years I open them up halfway through and add more brandy on top to soak in and re-wrap, other years I just leave it alone.

When you serve this, serve it on a pretty cake plate in slices.

Try white fruitcake, you won’t be disappointed.

My fruitcakes are in the oven, and now I’m going to check on them to see how they’re doing. I use my oven light, because if I open the oven I lose heat