Stuff and Nonsense: fruitcake

Showing posts with label fruitcake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fruitcake. Show all posts


September Fruitcake

In preparation for Chocotoberfest, I went cleaned out and reorganized my baking cupboard. For days afterward I was so smugly pleased with myself … until I went to get something from the front closet and realized there was a box of baking supplies on the top shelf. Yes, waylongtimeago, I had more dried fruits and nuts than would fit in the baking cupboard so I threw them in box in the closet and then (conveniently) forgot.

What I found in the closet:
  • Cocoa nibs, 1 oz
  • Glazed diced citron, approx ½ lb
  • Gazed lemon peel, diced, approx ½ lb
  • Glazed orange peel, diced, approx ¼ lb
  • Glazed pineapple wedges, approx ½ lb
  • Glazed red cherries, approx ½ lb
  • Macadamia nut pieces, 1 lb
  • Meringue powder, 10 oz
  • Pecan pieces, approx 1 lb
  • Parrot Bay Coconut rum, 200 ml
  • Pineapple Jack Pineapple Coconut Rum, approx 500 ml
  • Shredded coconut, 1 lb
Yes, these are almost all leftover fruitcake ingredients. While they’ve in the closet and I don’t need to go crazy trying to use them up ASAP, their very existence keeps ... hanging over me ... making me feel mentally itchy and uncomfortable in the same way crowded spaces do. It’s easier to just bake a fruitcake (yes, fruitcake in September) and use them up than teach myself to live with them. Also, I'm going into the hospital soon (October 5, but my monkey brain keeps treating it like tomorrow), so my general level of anxiety has changed from it's usual low level "background noise" to something resembling a prickly hedgehog lodged in my chest. Am I desperately trying to distract myself with baking? Hell, yes.

Since I had all the ingredients -- probably because I fully intended to make this fruitcake last winter -- I made Paula Deen’s "Ambrosia Fruitcake" from Cooking With Paula Deen, Nov/Dec 2008 issue collected on the DVD Cooking with Paula Deen, The Complete Collection (2005-2012). I’ve made four of the five fruitcakes featured in that issue now and, while the "Tropical Fruitcake" remains my favorite, the "Ambrosia Fruitcake" runs a close second.

Because I didn't have quite enough candied orange peel on hand -- the recipe calls for 2 cups and I had a scant ½ cup -- I added in candied lemon peel and citron until I reached the required amount. I'm sure this changed the flavor of the fruitcake somewhat, but it was still very good -- moist and tropical tasting with the candied cherries lending a welcome burst of red against the general beige-i-ness of the cake.

The article says all the fruitcakes can be baked in two 10-inch loaf pans rather than one 10-inch tube pan. Usually I just bake the fruitcakes in the tube pan, then cut the baked ring into quarters and send it along to work, parents, etc. Since it's September, however, I thought I'd do the loaf pan method and then store one, wrapped in coconut rum-soaked cheesecloth and foil in the fridge until December to see what would happen. Hopefully, what happens is that I have a delicious rum-soaked cake just when I need one!

Toasted coconut topping looks cute but flakes off as the cake is cut :(


Fruitcake Season: Plum Ginger

Although the calendar may say Spring is "only" weeks away, it's still very much winter here on Death Mountain. So much so that I'm half-tempted to put the Christmas tree back up and break out the eggnog. Except no-one is selling eggnog now. No, it's all chocolate bunnies and Easter grass.

Yeah, that's one biiiig fruitcake.

To heck with it all. I baked a fruitcake. Yes, finally got around to baking up the Paula Deen fruitcake I'd most be longing to try -- the "Plum Ginger" with green tea and Chinese 5-spice powder infused batter. It just sounded as interesting as all get out. So not the traditional fruitcake flavors. And yet still using the trappings of a traditional fruitcake -- citron, orange, and lemon peel, etc.

Delicious, fragrant batter.

The other Paula Deen fruitcakes I've made all used similar preparation methods and the "Plum Ginger" cake was not very different. Yes, I had to brew a strong cup of green tea and there was no alcohol bath at the end of the baking cycle, but those were really the only differences. As with the others, the batter went together easily and tasted ridiculously delicious even unbaked. (Yes, I know, raw batter is not a thing anyone should eat and yet how can I help it if, in stirring the batter, I accidentally got some on my fingers and then my fingers accidentally wandered into my mouth).

Paula Deen's "Plum Ginger" Fruitcake" from Cooking With Paula Deen, Nov/Dec 2008. Also available on the DVD Cooking with Paula Deen, The Complete Collection (2005-2012). Can't locate a copy on your own? See if your friendly local library can help you out.


Fruitcake Season: Cranberry Walnut

While I reallyreally wanted to kick off Fruitcake Season with Paula Deen's "Plum Ginger Fruitcake," my mother made disparaging noises when I described it to her and, since I am responsible for Christmas dessert, I decided to go with a safer, more traditional flavor combination. My mother does like fruitcake, by the way, but she is a very traditional baker and ingredients like green tea and Chinese five-spice powder make her very suspicious.

So, perhaps less excitingly, I started Fruitcake Season with "Cranberry Walnut Fruitcake." Assembling and baking was just as easy as when I make its sister, "Tropical Fruitcake." Always there is a worrying disparity between the amount of batter created and the amount for fillings to be added. But the point to remember is that the batter is there more to mold the bits of fruit, nut, and peel into a cohesive whole than it is to be cake. Or, more simply put, it's fruitcake.

The raw batter was deliciously fragrant, by the way, and tasted better than any spice cake batter I've ever made. I did use a mix of cinnamon, mace, and allspice instead of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves called for ... simply because I always use mace instead of nutmeg and did not know I was out of ground cloves until I started baking. (I went through my spices twice when I was writing up my list of necessary fruitcake supplies and I swear I saw ground cloves then).

Also, despite a basement full of spirits, I did not have any orange-flavored liqueur and ended up substituting Wild Turkey American Honey Liqueur. I could have used regular ol' Jack Daniels, but I worried that would be too harsh. Orange liqueur would be a little sweet and mellow, like honey whisky. (Just to be safe, I threw in a teaspoon of orange extract with the vanilla).

Once I added the fruit, nuts, and peel to the butter-and-flour mixture, the batter became intensely dense and was increasingly difficult for my KitchenAid Professional stand mixer to handle. This happens every time I make a fruitcake, so I've learned not to freak out and worry my stand mixer will explode. I am, every time, extremely grateful to the Christmas fairies who gave me my shiny red workhorse. I don't think I could easily make these dense batters with the smaller tilt-head stand mixer unless I wanted to finish mixing by hand -- my mother does this and ropes my father into wielding the spoon because she doesn't have the strength!

The raw batter fills the 10-inch tube pan pretty much to the top, but that's okay because even with two teaspoons of baking powder this cake has minimal rise and there's absolutely no danger of it overflowing the pan, dripping all over the oven's heating element, and making a terrible burning smell. Do I sound like I speak from experience? I have had a few overflowing bundts. It's not fun. (It also took 3.5 hours in my oven, but I've suspected for sometime now that my oven no longer runs as hot as it used to).

Paula Deen's "Cranberry Walnut Fruitcake" from Cooking With Paula Deen, Nov/Dec 2008. Also available on the DVD Cooking with Paula Deen, The Complete Collection (2005-2012). Can't locate a copy on your own? See if your friendly local library can help you out.


Fruitcake Supplies

My order of dried fruits, peel, and nuts has arrived from! See it in it's (mostly) orange splendor!

  • 1 lb. Diced Apples (Unsulphured)
  • 1 lb. Sliced Cranberries
  • 1 lb. Plums (No Pit)
  • 1 lb. Glazed Red Cherries
  • 1 lb. Glazed Pineapple Wedges
  • 1 lb. Coconut - Shredded
  • 1 lb. Macadamia Nut Pieces
  • 1 lb. Sliced Natural Almonds
  • 1 lb. Pecan Pieces
  • 1 lb. Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 lb. Glazed Orange Peel (Diced)
  • 1 lb. Glazed Lemon Peel (Diced)
  • 1 lb. Glazed Diced Citron
The tiny (compared to the others) green bag holds a generous sample of raw organic cacao nibs! Hurrah, a new ingredient to play with. Later. After Fruitcake Season.

I also picked up three four-pound bags of sugar for $1.49 each and one five-pound bag of King Arthur all-purpose flour for free with the purchase of two McCormick spices (and I had a 50¢ coupon off one McCormick spice that the store doubled). I'm not usually very thrifty about my baking supplies, but fruitcakes require a lot of stuff and I not 100% sure baking four or five fruitcakes over the course of the winter is the Best Idea Ever so ... let's economize when possible without cutting corners or using untrustworthy ingredients.

Oh, a fruitcake-baking I will go! First, up Paula Deen's "Cranberry Walnut Fruitcake!"