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Fruitcake--monstrous or marvelous??
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know this is a bit late, but better late than never, and never too early to start planning next Christmas' cake.

I love fruitcake - but only really rich moist luscious ones.... so mostly I just eat my own and politely say nothanks to everyone else's. Terrible fruitcake snob aren't I.

My fruitcake starts its soaking in a lethal mix around end of June, and the final cake is made by 1 November. I only use "real" dried fruit and mostly chop up my own dates, figs, prunes, hazelnuts etc. This also avoided the horrid heat which we get in Australia (our home is Parramatta, but we are in Paris for a few years) around Christmas time. If you want to eat my cake you must hand over the carkeys first. I refuse to be responsible for DUI fines. Just joking, but seriously it is fairly alcoholic.

The method with the newspaper is how I make my fruitcake Madame Shawshank. I am very lucky to have a recipe that has been passed down in our family for generations and only modified when absolutely essential (ie heat settings as ovens have modernised and the trick with newspaper amongst a -very- few others). The Christmas pudding recipe I use is also a very old one and very simple. About the only change in it is that we no longer use suet.

The white batter recipe sounds interesting. I imagine that the creme fraiche would give it a lovely moist texture, sort of like when you make a sour cream cake.

I have only a small piece left out of the cakes which I made last year. It was brought to Paris carefully cradled in my handluggage, and I am very stingely doling myself out a morsel when I really really have to have some. The kitchen in Paris does not contan an oven.... sob. so no fruitcake this year.
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm bringing this topic back to life hoping someone will volunteer to share their beloved fruitcake recipe. My mom cherishes her memory of the time she and my grandfather made fruitcake for a Christmas eons ago. I'm hoping to surprise her this year with a yummy reminder. Any recipes, resources or pointers are very gladly taken! (I'm on my way to check out Monkey's recipe now)
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msue



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodstocker, would you be interested in a recipe that uses dried (rather than candied) fruit? I think it came from James Beard, but my recipe is hand copied so I can't be sure. At any rate, it is a good fruitcake that you make at least a month in advance and drizzle with brandy every few days for a week or so, then once a week until serving it.

Fruitcake is a matter of personal preference, so if a dried fruit fruitcake is the ticket, no problem!

I'll have to look for the recipe. I stuffed it in a file last year...now where would that be??
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Msue, a recipe with dried fruit is just the ticket I think. Personally, I always thought green cherries were just too odd! And I know exactly how it feels to have to look for scraps of paper- somehow the most important are on the smallest piece available. Wink
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climbeyalex



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 92

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hate what passes for fruit cake around here, overly sweet black or yellow bricks with bitter science experiment greens and red plastic like bits in them but if it's a heavy, moist, dark one with loads of dried fruit in it and doesn't taste overly bitter or plastic, I'll like it. I'm ambivalent to booze. Mmm, christmas is 3 months away, is it time to start baking yet?
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Last edited by climbeyalex on Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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sweetbabyjames



Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 357

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread has me all a-twitter! I'm so pleased to read of others who love fruitcake! People seem so down on it all the time. I like the dark, candied kind, but I've also made dried fruit & spices kind, and once with cocoa powder and cinnamon, though I made that one too dry.

I can't say fruitcake tops plum pudding, which makes my glorious breakfast for days on end following Christmas dinner.

David, cheddar is brilliant. I always have a slice of cheddar with fruit pie (hold the whipped cream, please!). I'll have to try it next to fruitcake this year. I usually fo gor a dollop (okay, a giant heap) of Devon cream with mine.

Yay Christmas! Yay fruitcake!
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I haven't tried this yet, but it sounds good." Rolling Eyes

How many times have you read that phrase in food forums? I know I've used it many many times.
But on to the recipe--! I can't help but think it's worth trying.. Alton Brown is the author, and it just-- sounds good!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_8157,00.html
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gingerpale, you're right...it does "sound" good! I made Delia Smith's traditional Christmas cake last year with some success, but this Alton Brown recipe will be this year's attempt. Given his quest for perfection, I fully expect this version to be excellent, and the reviews are fabulous.

As usual, I expect to be eating most of this cake by myself Laughing
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msue



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After a very non-productive hunt through my stack of handwritten recipes, I finally gave up looking for that fruitcake recipe.

Then, just as I was about to post an apology, I discovered that I'd already typed it out and saved it on my computer!

My notes attribute this recipe to James Beard. I've made it for years, and quite often anti-fruitcake bah humbuggers take one polite bite and then cut another generous piece or two. I'm not sure if they like the dried fruit or the brandy!

Here it is: (Following the recipe I'll add my notes.)

CHRISTMAS FRUIT CAKE (James Beard)

*makes 4 medium sized cakes

Chop and combine:

1/2 cup almonds
6 oz pecans or walnuts
1.5 lbs mixed dried fruit
1 lb raisins
1/2 lb currants
1/2 lb dried figs
1/2 lb pitted dates

Mix above with:

1/2 cup rum
6 ox apricot jam
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered cloves

Set aside above mixture.

Cream together:

1/2 lb butter
1/2 lb brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses or honey
6 eggs

Add:

1/2 lb flour
1 tsp salt

Pour butter mixture over fruit and combine well. Transfer to greased and lined loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 1.5 to 2 hours *. Decorate tops a desired.

* Check small pans after 45 minutes.

Turn cakes out on wire racks to cool. Pour a little liquour over the top. After 20 minutes, turn the cakes over and pour some more. Wrap in cheese cloth, then in plastic wrap and store in airtight containers. Every week or two, moisten the cheese cloth with more liquor.


NOTES:

1. I'm pretty flexible with the total amount of fruit. I go by weight rather than volume, although I always eye my heap of chopped fruit to see if it will fit into the pans. Some years I want nearly all fruit that is bound together with a minimum of batter, and other years I prefer a different ratio. The amount of fruit listed here is a lot of fruit. You can cut down the quantities and the fruitcake will not suffer at all.

2. I always choose exactly the fruits that I like and that look good.

3. Think twice before choosing a dried fruit that will require major muscle involvement to cut into small chunks. I nearly threw out my back one year when I included dried papaya or mango - something that was really delicious but not easy to cut.

4. If you do not like liquor in cakes, this isn't the recipe for you. OR, if you want to make this without liquor, I'd substitute some liquid, like a fruit juice of some sort for the liquid in the cake, and I'd probably reduce the total fruit amount somewhat. It is a dryish cake, and the brandy is what makes it all bind together well.

5. I would make this at least one month before you wanted to serve it. I usually make it in November to serve at Christmas, but even earlier than that is better.

6. Here is a trick I used when I gave some fruitcakes as gifts one year. I bought some of those decorative paper loaf pans and baked the fruitcakes in those. This made them the right size. After they cooled I removed them from the pan and proceeded with the recipe as written. Then (here is the minor stroke of genius part) I put them back into new decorative paper loaf pans and wrapped them up. That way the fruitcakes were the perfect size for the pan and the pan was brand new - it looked really pretty.

7. I'd love to hear how it works out if anyone tries this.
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Msue thanks so much for the recipe- it looks decadent. Last night I was thinking about where I can source all the dried fruit (how I miss Trader Joe's!) and I got to thinking what kind of brandy/rum to use. Obviously, I don't think the cheapest would be very tasty, but nor would I use the best I could find. Since this is the 1st time I've made an alcohol steeped cake of any sort, do you have any suggestions of what to use or not to use? Question
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msue



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodstocker, I must admit ignorance when it comes to a recommendation for brandy, etc. When I purchase brandy for the fruitcake, I just look at all those bottles and pick the one that looks prettiest! (Total idiocy, I know, but I have nearly zero knowledge of spirits. My grandmother would be spinning in her grave to know I even entered the liquor store!) If I recall, there were fairly inexpensive brandies, some very very expensive ones, and some more mid-range brandies - I just chose one of the mid-range to upper mid-range.

My approach was to choose a brandy that appeared drinkable - if it isn't good enough to serve alone, then I don't want to cook with it.

Hopefully others here will know better how to choose liquors for cooking. I'd love to hear some recommendations as well, since fruitcake baking season is rapidly approaching!

p.s. My computer has crashed, probably for good. It was sooo lucky that I found the recipe when I did! I'm using borrowed machines until I can choose a new computer to grace my desk.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodstocker----having discovered the delights of amber rum while making the Yogurt Cake recipe from The Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook I've become a huge fan of Appleton's Amber Rum and was thinking this would make an excellent product to souse the cakes with. Good quality, light and lovely flavour and not overly expensive.
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks David. Although I admit that after today with my not so minor fender-bender (everyone is ok- wasn't my fault), I may be drinking said rum instead of cooking with it. Sad
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msue



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodstocker, I am sorry to learn of your mishap, and hope that the bumps and bruises heal quickly!
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

msue wrote:
woodstocker, I am sorry to learn of your mishap, and hope that the bumps and bruises heal quickly!


Aside from a few slightly sore muscles, I think 2 doses of ibprofen worked their charm. My car has a lot more damage then the 3 people involved put together (thankfully). What a week this has been!
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