Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

The Fruitcake Topic

Dessert

  • Please log in to reply
352 replies to this topic

#1 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 01 October 2002 - 06:20 PM

Aunt Susan and Aunt Betty used to bake over 50 pounds of fruitcake (my mother was a co-conspirator and I an active helper) for Christmas to be distributed amongst family and friends. Beautifully wrapped parcels would be sent with the driver to homes of relatives and friends as a Christmas and New Year gift. Mind you, Aunt Susan (Christian from Kerala) is married to Uncle Raj a Hindu. Aunt Betty is really Dr. Prabha Manchanda (Sikh by birth, secular by practice). This is a tradition we all follow not for religious reasons, but to continue what was brought to India with the foreign rulers. It makes for great festive mood. And all us kids loved this cake.

The fruits were soaked in Gigantic Jars for 21 days in rum. Rum was more affordable than Cognac for certain and also easily available.

I use Susan Auntie’s recipe each year. It is a big hit at the annual Holiday Bash that I have become famous for amongst friends and theirs. The cake is 9x12 and is made using 2 bottles of Cognac. I make at least 6 batches for the season. One with Armagnac and this is the one I serve for New Year.

The reason I wanted to start this thread is that as I was putting stuff into the refrigerator, I realized that I had a 9/12 inch Fruit Cake from last year. I save each year at least one cake for the next year. This is a custom in the family and I am told it is also practiced in the UK. Is that true? We save the cake in a tin but the cake is wrapped in several layers of fine muslin that has been soaked in rum (Armagnac in my case) and every month you add more rum (Armagnac) into the cake. I drizzle lots of it all over the cake and then wrap the cake again and drizzle more over the already soaking muslin cloth. I then sprinkle confectioners sugar and wrap the muslin in Saran wrap and then place in the box, use another layer of Saran wrap and seal the box securely.

The cake is always moist and by the next year, it is sublime. I had a nice piece of it just a few minutes ago. I have a buzz. There is LOTS of alcohol in this.

Do others have their own Fruit Cake stories?

What recipes do you use?

Where do you get them?

Do you even like Fruit Cake?

Who eats them anymore?

What makes a good fruit cake?

What fruit do you use?

#2 awbrig

awbrig
  • legacy participant
  • 2,665 posts

Posted 01 October 2002 - 06:27 PM

I heard that there is actually only 'one' fruit cake in existence and that it just gets keeps getting passed around and around and around :laugh:

#3 foodgeek

foodgeek
  • participating member
  • 561 posts

Posted 01 October 2002 - 07:06 PM

I heard that there is actually only 'one' fruit cake in existence and that it just gets keeps getting passed around and around and around :laugh:

That's pure Calvin Trillin.

Anyway...every year I say I'm gonna make Alton Brown's Free Range Fruit Cake...but i never get to it. :)
-Jason

#4 awbrig

awbrig
  • legacy participant
  • 2,665 posts

Posted 01 October 2002 - 07:09 PM

A great fruit cake recipe:

You'll need the following: a cup of water, a cup of sugar, four large eggs, two cups of dried fruit, a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of salt, a cup of brown sugar, lemon juice, nuts, and a bottle of whisky.

Sample the whisky to check for quality.

Take a large bowl. Check the whisky again. To be sure it is the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar and beat again.

Make sure the whisky is still okay. Cry another tup. Turn off the mixer. Break two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the whisky to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whisky. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Spoon. Of sugar or something. Whatever you can find.

Grease the oven. Turn the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window, check the whisky again and go to bed.
:biggrin:

#5 nightscotsman

nightscotsman
  • participating member
  • 3,068 posts
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 01 October 2002 - 07:32 PM

I love good fruitcake! Plum pudding is kinda similar, but served warm and more... uh... pudingy. Really festive and impressive if you serve it flambeed.

I've been wanting to make Laurie Colwin's "Black Cake" for years, but I can't find a source for burnt sugar essence. She says it should be available at West Indian grocery stores, but we just don't have such an animal here in Seattle. Anybody know what this stuff is and where I could get it?

#6 Sandra Levine

Sandra Levine
  • participating member
  • 1,690 posts
  • Location:New York

Posted 01 October 2002 - 07:50 PM

Here is a link to Laurie Colwin's Black Cake recipe as it appeared in Gourmet Magazine in 1988, calling for homemade burnt sugar rather than the commercially-bottled stuff. I am always threatening to make this cake, too.

Laurie Colwin's Black Cake

I had Black Cake in Jamaica in the mid-60s. It was served at a wedding reception with small glasses of a sweet red wine that I was only able to identify 10 years later when someone gave me a bottle of port as a gift. (Weren't they talking about taste memory on another thread?)

The combination of Black Cake and port is made in heaven -- truly memorable.

#7 helenas

helenas
  • participating member
  • 1,410 posts

Posted 01 October 2002 - 07:55 PM

i got the unsolicited catalog from the company named Cryer Creek Kitchens:
there is a picture of gorgeous looking fruitcake right on the front page: this one is made from glaced apricots and pecans. As i have a forgotten box of glaced apricots ( bought a year ago to try some Jeremiah Tower recipe) i might try to whip out something soon.
Mind you, it looks even better in the catalog: loads of apricots!

#8 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 01 October 2002 - 10:24 PM

What spirits should one use in the making of fruit cakes?

#9 Sandra Levine

Sandra Levine
  • participating member
  • 1,690 posts
  • Location:New York

Posted 01 October 2002 - 10:30 PM

I like to use rum, but many recipes call for bourbon.

#10 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 01 October 2002 - 10:31 PM

I like to use rum, but many recipes call for bourbon.

As I said in the first post... we used Rum in India. But I prefer cognac and armagnac over Rum or Bourbon.

#11 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 01 October 2002 - 10:38 PM

7 Years ago for my first ever Annual Holiday Open House, I planned a table for fruit cakes. I prepared fruit cakes of many different kinds and using different spirits.
The party was a great success... We were able to fit 125 plus people in the apartment. The Tandoor was able to cook enough food for all those people and after the party, most of the friends that came, marked the Open House at Hudson Mews as their preferred holiday party for they "real food" served in this home.

Some of the fruit cakes I made for that party are listed below:

I had made the classic Fruit Cake that my mom and aunts prepared with cognac.
I had an armagnac version of it for fun.
I had a Florida Fruit Cake, I believe the recipe was from a famous dessert book.
I made a caraway seed and Irish whisky based fruit cake.
A rum and tropical fruit cake
Grand Marnier and three citrus fruit cake
Bourbon, pecan and apricot fruit cake
Champagne and mixed berry fruit cake

My favorite just happens to be the classic cognac fruit cake that was left behind by the Brits in India.

#12 maggiethecat

maggiethecat
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,053 posts
  • Location:Chicago Burbs -- West

Posted 02 October 2002 - 12:22 PM

The only bad fruitcake is a bad fruitcake! I have never understood why it is the butt of so many jokes.

One odd thing I noticed when I moved to the States is that wedding cake is not fruitcake. Seems to be a cake mix sheet cake.

In Canada, it was ALWAYS a fruitcake enclosed in marzipan. No wedding reception is large enough to wipe out a three layer fruitcake, so the leftovers got us through some very thin times in our early married life!

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#13 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 02 October 2002 - 12:59 PM

One odd thing I noticed when I moved to the States is that wedding cake is not fruitcake.  Seems to be a cake mix sheet cake.

In Canada, it was ALWAYS a fruitcake enclosed in marzipan.  No wedding reception is large enough to wipe out a three layer fruitcake, so the leftovers got us through some very thin times in our early married life!

DO you make your own Fruit Cake? Do you get it from Canada?

#14 Brija

Brija
  • legacy participant
  • 54 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 04:06 AM

I used not to like fruit cake until I found a recipe with lots of various fruit in it. I baked one for every Christmas… but last year, my fiancé wanted to bake a date cake for Christmas. I was not sure I’d like it… but we ended up changing the recipe quite a lot, and though the cake did not rise perfectly, it was definitely the best fruit cake (if a date cake qualifies as such) that I’ve ever tasted. It was incredibly moist, dark, and very flavorful. I just don’t know if it would have even improved with time, because we could not store it, we ate it! Now I’ve decided to abandon “my” fruit cake and ask for this every year! :smile: If it is possible to recreate it, since we did not make any notes about how we changed the original recipe… :sad:

#15 Wilfrid

Wilfrid
  • legacy participant
  • 6,208 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 06:58 AM

I have never made fruit cake, but I am adept at eating it.

One tip: try it alongside a thick slice of really good English cheddar (Montgomery's, Keen's) - if you can't get it in your area, probably the best pre-packed for this purpose is Cracker Barrel. And a glass of madeira.

#16 Toby

Toby
  • legacy participant
  • 780 posts
  • Location:New York

Posted 03 October 2002 - 08:12 AM

Just the other day, someone gave me the bare outlines of their "West Indian fruitcake" preparations, which they were starting now -- soak yellow and red raisins, currants, pitted dates and pitted prunes in a mixture of 2/3 white rum and 1/3 port or Madeira. For the rum, I was told to use "overproof" but have forgotten what that meant -- is it just very high proof?

Does anyone have a good recipe for stollen?

#17 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 08:21 AM

Just the other day, someone gave me the bare outlines of their "West Indian fruitcake" preparations, which they were starting now -- soak yellow and red raisins, currants, pitted dates and pitted prunes in a mixture of 2/3 white rum and 1/3 port or Madeira.

Same reason I posted now... We have the fruits soaking at least 21 days.. and actually, it is better to soak them longer.

#18 Fish

Fish
  • participating member
  • 158 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 05:02 PM

....
I use Susan Auntie’s recipe each year.  
.....
What recipes do you use?

Would you be willing to share your recipe ? As a co-ex-colonial (?!?!!?) I'm drooling just thinking about a good fruitcake. I've never understood why they're so much maligned here in the US.

- S

#19 Nick

Nick
  • legacy participant
  • 1,782 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 05:31 PM

A great fruit cake recipe:

That's about as far as any fruit cake should get.

#20 maggiethecat

maggiethecat
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 6,053 posts
  • Location:Chicago Burbs -- West

Posted 03 October 2002 - 06:21 PM

Suvir: I add my entreaties to Fish's. Could you please share Susan Auntie's recipe?

Wilfred: You are sharing the magic. Perfect fruitcake service. I like an 8 year old Balderson's cheddar, if I can get it. No Madiera on the sideboard? Port's almost as good. Daytime? Nothing like a nice cuppa'.

I will get my mother's recipe when I am in Canada next week and post it. Heavy on the pecans.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."
Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com


#21 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 07:41 PM

....
I use Susan Auntie’s recipe each year.  
.....
What recipes do you use?

Would you be willing to share your recipe ? As a co-ex-colonial (?!?!!?) I'm drooling just thinking about a good fruitcake. I've never understood why they're so much maligned here in the US.

- S

I will think about it... or I can PM each of you privately.. and maybe you can honor my request to not publicly post it anywhere.
Would that be fair? Or am I not being generous?
Aunt Susan runs a baking business in New Delhi and she gave me the recipe to only ever publish in my own cookbook.
That is the dilemna I have... I am sorry... :sad:

#22 awbrig

awbrig
  • legacy participant
  • 2,665 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 07:53 PM

dont publish a fruitcake recipe in your book, please.

#23 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 08:57 PM

dont publish a fruitcake recipe in your book, please.

why is that???

#24 polly

polly
  • participating member
  • 253 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 09:17 PM

I am not a fan of most fruitcakes, because they have all those horrible glace cherries in them and sultanas, which for some reason I don't like...
But when I make it myself I put lots of dried fruit (apricot, apple, peach, currants, etc but nothing too sweet like dried paw paw) and chocolate! sounded a bit wierd to me at first, but the chocolate flavour mixes in with that dark spicyness very well.
I don't have a favourite alcohol, but I usually use whisky and rum.
Once I made a cake with a jar of fruit that I had been marinating for 3 years!
It was put together in London, travelled to NY, back to London and then on to Australia.
Not sure if I could taste a difference, but it made the cake seem special.
How sad; a house full of condiments and no food.

#25 Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran
  • legacy participant
  • 4,877 posts

Posted 03 October 2002 - 09:41 PM

I am not a fan of most fruitcakes, because they have all those horrible glace cherries in them and sultanas, which for some reason I don't like...

Dont blame you... that is bad stuff..... Even I, one that loves all things sweet, finds it terrible. :wink:

#26 nightscotsman

nightscotsman
  • participating member
  • 3,068 posts
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 03 October 2002 - 09:53 PM

You could candy your own cherries: clicky. You start with fresh cherries and they taste like cherries, not chemicals.

Also, Trader Joes sells cherries called "Rascherries" that are dried, then lightly candied and flavored with raspberry.

#27 Mrs. P

Mrs. P
  • participating member
  • 128 posts

Posted 28 September 2004 - 06:13 PM

<bump>

I lived in Panama several years ago, and in October, in preparation for Christmas, I recall that people started their jars of rum-soaked fruit for fruitcake. The cakes would be baked in late November/early December and aged until Christamas or given as gifts. In Panama, the fruitcake process involved grinding the macerated fruit to a paste in a spice-grinder, which was added to the batter as a puree. I never wrote down a recipe and have never found it since. Does anybody have a recipe for this kind of a cake? I have a real craving for Panamanian Fruitcake!!! Thanks!

#28 andiesenji

andiesenji
  • society donor
  • 9,342 posts
  • Location:Southern California

Posted 28 September 2004 - 06:52 PM

You can make Jamaican black cake and have nearly the same end result.
This is a very good recipe for it

Jamaican black cake
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

#29 Swisskaese

Swisskaese
  • legacy participant
  • 1,951 posts
  • Location:Hod HaSharon, Israel

Posted 29 September 2004 - 04:05 AM

<bump>

I lived in Panama several years ago, and in October, in preparation for Christmas, I recall that people started their jars of rum-soaked fruit for fruitcake.  The cakes would be baked in late November/early December and aged until Christamas or given as gifts.  In Panama, the fruitcake process involved grinding the macerated fruit to a paste in a spice-grinder, which was added to the batter as a puree.  I never wrote down a recipe and have never found it since.  Does anybody have a recipe for this kind of a cake?  I have a real craving for Panamanian Fruitcake!!!  Thanks!

View Post



This sounds like what you are referring to:

Carribean Fruitcake

#30 jackal10

jackal10
  • participating member
  • 5,036 posts

Posted 29 September 2004 - 05:12 AM

As a student, a long time ago and in another place, we made the nicest fruitcake in the world: An ordianry pound cake, but with 2 oz of hash and the best part of a bottle of brandy...to be sliced thinly and eaten in small amounts..

Christmas cake must be dark and rich; thick marzipan and thin royal icing as a snow scene with tacky tradtional decorations...





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Dessert