Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fabulous Fruitcake


My husband is an oddity. He is the only person I've ever heard of who likes fruitcake. That means that all the tons of fruitcake that are given annually, reused as doorstops, and regifted at white elephant exchanges throughout the world, were actually intended for him. I refuse to give out our address here in case the resultant flood of fruitcakes landing on our doorstep would throw the earth off its axis, resulting in worldwide famine, such that even fruitcake might look appealing.

My husband is a great guy, though, weird food preferences aside, and when I got a new cookbook with a fruitcake recipe in it, I promised to make it for him. It called for actual dried fruit, rather than the molded paraffin "fruit" peddled in the grocery store in little plastic tubs. This looked like something I could handle.

But here's the embarrassing part - I got that cook book over ten years ago, and I didn't get around to making the fruitcake for him until last year. (Hangs head in shame.) But my husband forgave me and said it was worth the wait.

I decided that fruitcake is like split pea soup. When you make it yourself and see all the yummy things you've put in it, you're much more likely to try it, even if the end product looks a bit suspicious. I grew quite fond of my little brown babies, swaddled in their little boozy blankets, lined up on my pantry shelf. And when we finally sampled one, it was a delightful realization that fruitcake isn't inherently nasty. It all depends on what you put into it. Put in good stuff and lots of it and you'll be amazed and pleased when your fruitcake is actually eaten. But if you want to have fruitcake for Christmas, you need to start now as it needs a month to marinate.



Fabulous Fruitcake
- adapted from Have Your Cake And Eat It, Too by Susan Purdy

Fruit: (you can adapt the fruit and the amounts according to your preferences and what you have available to you. I couldn't find dried apples or peaches, but added dried blueberries and dried cherries)

1/2 cup (3 oz) cut-up dried pears, packed
1/2 cup (3 oz) cut-up dried peaches, packed
1/2 cup (3 oz) cut-up dried apricots, packed
1/2 cup (3 oz) cut-up dried pitted prunes, packed
1/2 cup (3 oz) cut-up dried pitted dates, packed
1 cup (3-1/4 oz) cut-up dried apple slices, packed
1/2 cup ( 2-1/2 oz) seedless raisins, packed
1/2 cup ( 2-1/2 oz) golden raisins, packed
1/4 cup (1-1/4) dried currants
1/4 cup (2 oz) candied pineapple, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup dark rum or brandy


Cake:

Solid Shortening
Butter-flavor cooking spray
2 large egg whites
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup apple or orange juice
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp grated orange zest or 1/2 tsp orange oil or orange zest
1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsifted whole wheat pastry flour (or use a total of 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Dark rum or brandy for soaking cakes (optional)

1- The day before baking the cakes, or as early as possible on the baking day, assemble all the fruit in a large bowl. Stir in the dark rum or brandy; cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

2-Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F, with 2 racks dividing the oven into thirds. Lightly grease 4 loaf pans with shortening. Cut parchment paper to fit inside and press the papers against the pan bottom and sides. Lightly coat the paper with cooking spray.

3- In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, brown sugar, oil, honey, juice, applesauce, vanilla, and grated zest or flavoring. Whisk, or beat on low with an electric mixer, to blend well. Set a large strainer over the bowl and add the dry ingredients, flour through cloves. Stir and sift the dry ingredients onto the wet. Add the wheat germ and pecans. Mix just until blended; do not overblend.

4- Stir the boozy fruit into the batter and blend well. Divide the batter among the prepared pans, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cakes are risen and golden brown on top, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

5- Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Then tip them gently from the pans, peel off the paper, and set them right side up on wire racks to cool completely.

6- When the cakes are completely cool, if you like, wrap them in rum- or brandy-soaked cloths, place in heavy-duty zip-lock bags and set in a cool dark place to age for about 1 month. Renew the spirits when they dry out. (Don't substitute fruit juice for spirits; only alchohol will preserve the cakes.)

7- Glazing the cakes: (I didn't get pictures of this. By the time I'd finished basting the babies in booze, I totally forgot they were supposed to be glazed! Too much rum fumes, I think.) Set the cakes on racks over wax paper. Drizzle some of the glaze on top of each cake, letting it run down the sides. Place a few pecan halves in the glaze before it dries. Let sit until the glaze is dried and set, about 30 minutes. When the glaze is hard, you can wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and freeze them, or give them as gifts, or slice and serve.



Glaze:

1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1-1/2 to 2 Tbsp rum or brandy
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1- Whisk together the sugar, 1-1/2 Tbsp rum or brandy, and the extract. Add a few more drops of liquid if needed to make the glaze soft enough to drip from a spoon.

22 comments:

Melinda said...

Your fruitcakes do sound lovely. It is one of the things that is actually really good here.The Brits love their fruitcakes. Good boozy ones!
There are some excellent ones even in the supermarkets. But I have had some dreadful ones in USA, so know why you have had a tainted history with American fruitcakes. What are they putting in them that they are so horrid?
I think you are very sweet to make this many fruitcakes for your hubby.
And now that everyone knows where the one person in USA lives, who likes them, I am sure you will have even more sent to you on 26th of December. Good luck with those, Mr. Craig! Perhaps you can hold 'the worst fruitcake ever' contest.

Bunny Trails said...

Yah know, your fruit cake actually LOOKS good! That's saying ALOT coming from me :) LOL My dad and gramps are like your husband and LOVE fruitcake! I grew up smelling 'boozy' fruitcake beginning end of Oct/early Nov each year. You sure you don't want to send me your address? My dad can hook you hubby up for MONTHS :) LOL Seriously, I really think that yours look YUMMY. Maybe I'll give them another try.

JohannaB said...

My mother loved Collin Street bakery's (Corsicana, TX) fruitcakes. My husband sent her one every year for Christmas. Now she is gluten-free so no more fruitcakes.

I think I would like yours. Real fruit...

Debbie said...

Your fruitcake really does look good. I don't know many people that eat fruitcake but I used to send my grandmother one every year. She loved them!!!

VeggieGirl said...

Haha!! I love your comparison of fruit cake to split pea soup... I never thought it of that way, and it IS so true!!!

Hooray for getting around to using the cookbook - I need to do that with SEVERAL of mine, haha ;-)

javapot said...

I'm not a fruit cake person either but I do love to bake them! Yours looks lovely.

Jonathan & Gabriel said...

My Dad, believe it or not, is also a fan of fruitcake. But he enjoys it soaked in rum. :)

**doffs her cap and vanishes**

thecoffeesnob said...

I'm not a fan of fruit cakes either though i have a ton of fruit cake recipes i've been meaning to try out for Christmas gifts. It has been two Christmases now- and still no fruit cakes. Yours looks great, i have to try it soon :)

OrangeJuice said...

I was attracted to read your blog as I wanted to look at the recipe for a fabulous fruitcake for my hubby. Your first para in the blog made me chuckle cos I thot my hubby was the only oddball I knew who loves fruitcake, he is the one who collects all the leftover fruitcakes from the wedding dinners we attend...

LyB said...

Ooooh, booze soaked cake, I'm up for that! lol! Your fruitcakes do look delicious Lynn. I wish I had time to make these before Christmas, as I do like a good fruitcake. :)

JC said...

Your husband is not alone, I also adore fruitcake. I thought I was the only one so its nice to know there is someone else out there who likes to get those regifted fruitcakes. I also have all of Susan Purdys books and was glad to see you adapted this recipe which I have used for several years. Can't wait to get into the kitchen and try yours, it sounds and looks great. Thanks

Raymond

Tartelette said...

Our fruitcakes in France are slightly different so when I told my husband I was making one, he gave me the evil eye. I then understood what he meant when I saw them at the store...and yet I love the American version too....all those candied fruits :)
Love your recipe Lynn!

Mary said...

My whole family loves fruitcake. We even have an honest to god secret fruitcake recipe that I didn't get until I was 33 and am forbidden from publishing. My sister has decided to take charge this year and is making a batch for all of us. It's a tremendous amount of work.
The only bought fruitcake we all like is the stuff made by the monks at Gesthemene Farms. It's so soaked with booze it literally falls apart. Yummy!

Aimée said...

I love fruitcake, Lynn, but I am done with trying to convert people. No fruitcake for me this year!

alexandra's kitchen said...

i'll make anything i get to swaddle in an alcohol blanket. that's great. this is the most appetizing fruitcake I have ever seen.

Maria said...

My dad loves fruitcake. I will have to make this for him!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Last year I made my mom's fruit cake which uses those candied fruits and only 1/2 cup flour. I really love it.

But this looks like the one my grandmother used to make and I'd love to try it. And I'll go with that cherry blueberry!

Peabody said...

I enjoy fruitcake as well. But only ones like you have made, that are fresh. Those things you see in the stores are terrible.

Dee Light said...

I have to admit I like fruitcake. I don't want it year round, but i like it around the holidays. I used to make fruitcake with my grandmother, we used a combination of candied and dried fruits. Your's sound fabulous, I love that it uses all dried fruits.

Heather said...

fruitcake that is truly fabulous sounds like quite a challenge... but it looks like you've succeeded :)

Kelly-Jane said...

Worth a 10 year wait, it must be good then :)

I think it's true what you say, if you see what goes into it you are more likely to like it.

görel said...

I love fruitcake, and in Sweden it's not as common as in Britain or USA, so one doesn't get overwhelmed. This fruitcake looks gorgeous, I'm gonna save the recipe for Christmas!