Make it Extra Fruity
In preparation for the holidays, we have been stocking up on stuff. Extra stuff. To sustain all these celebrations, all the baking that needs to happen, and the giving away of stuff, we have to get extra stuff. Such as molasses. We have 7 jars in the house now. Hopefully that will be enough. I have also been buying extra dried fruit, since it seems like everything I want to make has some sort of dried fruit. This brings me to what I am doing today.
Last week, I said I might tell you more about my adventures in fruitcake. I am afraid I might have misled you a little there. My history of fruitcake boils down to five events. I will list them in chronological order for you.
1995: The husband and I were newlyweds. We had very little money, but wanted to show our appreciation to some dear family members who were generous at our wedding. We decided to make fruitcake and send them as Christmas gifts. We had never made fruitcake before and I am pretty sure neither one of us had ever even really eaten fruitcake before. This did not deter us. It was supposed to be a festive treat and whatever we made had to be better than what you could get in the store, right? Actually, we discovered that we were correct. It was good. I remember it being kinda dry and crumbly, though.
2000: Flash forward five years. Even though our first fruitcake adventure was a success, we did not do it again. In fact, I only mention this year because we got a fruitcake as a gift for Christmas. It was, ummm…I can’t say anymore. I’ll just say that there is a reason for all those fruitcake jokes out there.
2003 or 4?: I don’t remember what year it was, but this was another one of those years when we got a fruitcake as a gift. This time, though, it was from a friend who bought it from a local bakery. The fruitcake was supposed to be the best in town. And you know what? It was really good and even my kid liked it.
2008?: A friend of mine told me about a fruitcake recipe she got from a family member. She even brought me a piece to try. It was delicious! Well, I asked for the recipe, but I think it might have been a family secret.
2009: Rose Levy Berenbaum comes out with a new baking book. In it, she has a recipe for fruitcake baked in a wreath shaped pan. I did not have the pan, but decided to try it and it was pretty good! This is also the year that I start making my own candied orange, lemon, and grapefruit peel. This, I think is really what transported me into fruitcake heaven. That candied fruit in the store is not an adequate substitute. I cannot figure out why anyone would want to buy it. This is also the year that I make stollen for the first time. This is like a German fruitcake and I will talk more about that another time, maybe.
(See our Amaryllis in the back? Isn’t it coming along nicely?) This recipe is different from the others I have tried because you simmer the fruit first. Then, you add all the rest of the ingredients. I did grind my spices fresh in an old coffee grinder, as he suggested. One change I did make was to bake my cakes in four mini loaf pans. It was only supposed to bake an hour (for a big loaf), but for my four minis, it took an hour plus another 15 minutes to come up to the 200 degrees he specifies in the recipe. I have to say, this looks really promising.
But, as you probably know, fruitcake is supposed to age. Actually, I am a little late, as he says it tastes really good after aging for 2 months. We will probably stagger our tastings, since I made small loaves. The first will be eaten on Christmas eve, maybe, if we can wait that long!
By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, today’s word is Fruitcake.