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The Fruitcake Topic

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#271 Lindacakes

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 07:55 AM

Thanks for the recipe, Pat, I will try those.

Helen, I really like candied pineapple!!! Isn't it funny how people form really strong likes and dislikes where candied fruit is concerned? I can't find enough ways to use angelica -- I like it in sheep's milk ricotta filling for cannoli along with miniature chocolate chips. Very tasty.

Here is the first of my favored fruitcake cookie recipes. Not exactly fruitcake, but when you want that flavor and you don't want to spend a lot of money and wait a lot of time to get it, these will do. Very delicious.


Maida Heatter’s California Fruit Bars


1 generous cup of dried fruit – apricot, fig, date
4 large eggs
1 pound box brown sugar (2 1/4 cups)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
7 ounces (2 cups) walnut halves


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil and butter it.

Cut dried fruit into small pieces.
Steam over simmering water for 15 minutes.
Uncover and set aside.

In a 3 quart saucepan beat eggs, add sugar and mix.
Place over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir and scrape until sugar melts.
Remove from heat.
Add salt, vanilla and flour one cup at a time.
Whisk until smooth.
Stir in fruit, then nuts.

Pour evenly into pan and smooth.
Bake 15 minutes until golden brown with a shiny top.
Cool, cut and wrap individually.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#272 Lindacakes

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 07:58 AM

Here's the second one. These are suprisingly good and suprisingly like fruitcake. Very, very tasty, too.


Holiday Date-Nut Cookies
Epicurious.com / Bon Appetit / December, 1992


1 pound pitted dates, chopped
8 ounces candied pineapple, chopped (about 1 2/3 cups)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped Brazil nuts (about 8 ounces)
2 cups blanched slivered almonds, lightly toasted (about 8 ounces)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs


Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine fruit and nuts in bowl.
Add 1/2 cup flour and mix to separate pieces.
Combine remaining 2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl.
Beat butter in large bowl until light.
Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy.
Beat in eggs 1 at a time.
Fold dry ingredients into butter mixture.
Mix in fruits and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Transfer to rack and cool.

Can be prepared 1 week ahead.
Store in airtight container.
Makes about 6 1/2 dozen.

NOTE:
The bottoms of these cookies get quite brown – I baked at 350 for ten minutes.
These are really delicious cookies, very addictive.
The batter is very delicate and adds just enough to the fruit and nuts.
Try with macadamia, pecan, coconut, and pineapple or any combination of two fruits and two nuts.
Try making them in a mini muffin pan – bite-sized fruitcakes.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#273 David Ross

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Posted 29 November 2008 - 09:06 AM

As we speak, I am holding two very precious Christmas gifts on my kitchen counter-two "Great Northern Fruitcakes" that are vintage 2006.

The little jewels have been wrapped in brandy-soaked cheesecloth for three years. I have lovingly doused them with a shower of brandy every three months during their slumber in the pantry. And in just a few more weeks I will wake them from their liquor infused dreams and we'll eat them for Christmas.

These are photos of their cousin, Fruitcake 2005, which we ate last year:

Posted Image

I use a recipe, (posted in the link below), that was created by the bakers of the Great Northern Railrod company. In a bygone era, Fruitcake regularly appeared on holiday menus on Great Northern passenger trains like the "Empire Builder" and the "North Coast Limited." But the days of grand dining aboard regularly scheduled passenger trains is all but gone, replaced with passable Amtrak diners that do not serve fruitcake.

Posted Image

I suspect those of you who are reading these pages join me as a lover of this delicious, (often-derided), little bundle of fruit, nuts and cake.

You may be interested in reading a piece I once wrote about fruitcake:

http://www.themediad...s/fruitcake.htm

I'd love to see photos of your fruitcakes.

#274 Blether

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 07:33 AM

With luck this topic is maturing with the long laying down.

As I wrote in 'Infusions & Tinctures at home', back in March I infused some whisky with raisins, citrus and spices to make Irish Cordial according to a 19th century recipe.

I put the soaked raisins in a sealed box in the fridge and finally got round to using them in a fruitcake. I chose a Great-war-era recipe for 'condensed milk fruitcake' from Marguerite Patten's A Century of British Cooking. She says it was related to her as an austerity-beating way to get round the unavailability of sugar.

The recipe called for 6oz / ~180g of raisins - I tipped my batch in and found that wet, it was 230g. I left the hot mixture I'd tipped it into, to cool uncovered so some of the liquid could evaporate. By luck rather than design it worked out well:

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Good ? It's redolent of whisky, nutmeg and other spices, and rich with butter and egg. Are you kidding ?

Edited by Blether, 30 June 2010 - 07:39 AM.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.


#275 teagal

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 11:56 AM

Cleaned out a cupboard today and found a glass jar with dried fruit soaking in alcohol. I dated it 8/08. The jar is only half full, I guess the alcohol evaporated, and I'm wondering if I can still use it? Any ideas?
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#276 andiesenji

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 04:57 PM

Cleaned out a cupboard today and found a glass jar with dried fruit soaking in alcohol. I dated it 8/08. The jar is only half full, I guess the alcohol evaporated, and I'm wondering if I can still use it? Any ideas?


Of course you can use it. I've got cherry "cordial" that has been steeping the dried cherries I put in it since 2005. It is in one of the bail-lock jars with a thick silicone seal, instead of the regular rubber ring. Still, the level has gone down a bit, other than the amount I used in some recipes.
(I mark it with a piece of label tape.)
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#277 Dakki

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Posted 03 October 2010 - 05:03 PM

Seeing this thread pop up has made me curious about fruitcake. I don't think I've had any since I was a small boy. Looking at David Ross' post makes me suppose some style of fruitcakes are better aged. Am I in good time to try making one of those for this holiday season?
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#278 Edward J

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 09:11 AM

Hmmmmm, has anyone tried "massaging" dried fruit? Tossing the fruit in a mixing bowl with booze, slip on the dough hook, and walk away for 10 or so minutes.

I've done this with 1 part fruit and 1 part of brandy and orange juice. The fruit sucks up all the moisture, and after baking, still remains moist.

I also candied my own orange and lemon peel, not very hard to do.

#279 Baron d'Apcher

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 11:04 AM

Fig pâte de fruit en croûte. The lid broke up a bit and the pectin didn't set properly, but it was a worthwhile prototype.

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#280 Jaymes

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 01:01 PM

Fig pâte de fruit en croûte.
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Absolutely beautiful.

Thanks.

#281 helenjp

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:29 PM

That magnificent mummification of fig reminds me of Black Bun (Scotch Bun). My mother and grandmother used to make it in a flaky pastry coffin.

#282 helenjp

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 10:03 PM

P.S. Dried Cherries...I'm not familiar with tart cherries - the New Zealand fruit cake cherry is a glace cherry, but I can't get those in Japan anyway, and often sub sweetened dried cranberries. Any recommendations for types of dried cherry suitable for fruitcake?

#283 prasantrin

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 07:13 AM

How are glace cherries different from these? They're available all over Japan in grocery stores (higher-end ones) and at places like Tokyu Hands.

#284 helenjp

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 08:13 AM

They are indeed glace cherries, but they are all about looks and not flavor. I do try to use the best fruit I can find for Christmas fruit cake, as I like to give them to friends.

Talking of flavor, in recent years I've wondered whether lengthy soaking in alcohol doesn't make all the fruit taste too much the same. I'm planning to go back to a shorter pre-soak time. Thoughts?

#285 prasantrin

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 09:09 AM

They are indeed glace cherries, but they are all about looks and not flavor. I do try to use the best fruit I can find for Christmas fruit cake, as I like to give them to friends.

Talking of flavor, in recent years I've wondered whether lengthy soaking in alcohol doesn't make all the fruit taste too much the same. I'm planning to go back to a shorter pre-soak time. Thoughts?


Sorry, because you said you didn't use them because they were not available in Japan, and not because they didn't add flavour, I thought you were looking for them.

Edited by prasantrin, 23 October 2010 - 09:10 AM.


#286 andiesenji

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 10:23 AM

Try steaming the dried cherries (or any dried fruits) not only does this process "plump" them it seems to deepen the flavor.

I now routinely steam all dried fruits before adding them to breads, cakes or pastry. It makes a tremendous difference, in my opinion.

It takes some experimentation to determine how long to steam them. If they have been stored for a long time it will take longer. You can resurrect dried fruits that seem too far gone and thus save having to buy more.
"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
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#287 helenjp

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 05:43 PM

Thanks for the steaming tip, I will most definitely try that.

Rona, I AM looking for them! Haven't seen cherries or angelica in my local area for ten years or so...sometimes not even in department stores within an hour's travel, so I'd rather order online than waste a day on an expedition that likely won't net everything I want!

I also make enough fruit cakes that a pack of 4 cherries (if I find them, that's what I find - not the little tubs) is impractical. For color, cranberries or dried strawberries (from Ame-yoko) are OK, but the ones I've found so far are like the cheap glace pineapple, so steeped in acidulants and sugars that any fruit flavor is lost. I've tried them, and they haven't earned their keep! On the other hand, Japan is a great place for candied ginger, if you wash off the loose sugar.

I don't know if it's a worldwide trend, but it has become impossible to find unsweetened dried fruit other than raisins (and maybe figs/prunes). Not even apricots or blueberries escape the acidulant/sweetener thing any more.

Cuoca, an old Japanese online standby, no longer sells ANY dried or glace fruit, though T Foods still do. Thanks for the Chef's Pride link - the prices are not cheap, but it's certainly good reading.

#288 nakji

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 06:55 PM

Do you think a fruitcake could withstand using only dried fruit and no glace fruits? My supermarket has a wide range of dried fruits available, including dried kiwi, dried dates, dried figs, raisins, and papaya. I also have relatively easy access to dried cranberries.

I have always used Jeffrey Steingarten's recipe for white fruitcake, which I prefer to darker-style fruitcakes.

#289 helenjp

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 08:09 PM

No glace fruits? Oh, definitely OK, I think...that's why I'm thinking of making a Black Bun this year. But for expat friends' cakes, I know those rarely-seen fruits are a treat, and they look so pretty...

#290 andiesenji

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 09:43 AM

As I suggested above, steam the fruits first. They become more like glace fruits. Even more so if you soak them in syrup after steaming. Bring heavy simple syrup to a boil, drop in the steamed fruit, turn it off and leave them to stand for a couple of days.
They won't be fully glaceed but close enough for baking. And they will retain their flavor.

And save the water from the steaming. It catches drips from the steamed fruit and has a lot of flavor and can be made into syrup with the addition of sugar.

Edited by andiesenji, 24 October 2010 - 09:46 AM.

"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
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#291 nakji

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 03:41 PM

An excellent tip, I'll remember that.

Cranberries, kiwis, and ...something else for yellow. Hopefully there's dried pineapple available.

If I get into Shanghai in early November, they may have glace fruits available at Isetan or Marks and Spencer. They'll be expensive, but I could work with a mix.

#292 Lindacakes

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 12:23 PM

It's not particularly difficult to glace your own fruit, but it is time consuming.

I want to know more about that pastry coffin above and why the fruit is so firm and not gelatinous . . .
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#293 janeer

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 05:51 PM

One of my favorite non-glace fruits to use in fruitcakes is apricots. If you can get them, I recommend them.

#294 David Ross

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 06:27 PM

I use a fruitcake recipe adapted from a recipe used by the baker's of the Great Northern Railroad and served onboard their passenger trains. The most famous Great Northern train was the "Empire Builder," which still runs from Seattle-Chicago today--albeit in Amtrak colors and without any fruitcake on the Holiday menu.

I cut the ingredients by half from the original recipe, eliminate the vanilla and the port wine. The original recipe calls for all granulated sugar but I use equal parts of granulated and brown sugar. Once the fruitcake is baked, I wrap it in cheesecloth and then slug some brandy on top. The cheesecake acts like a sort of wet sponge, cloaking the cake in booze while it sits covered in a dark corner of the pantry. Please note that the fruitcake I make this year won't be ready to eat until 2011 at the earliest. I have a fruitcake stewing in brandy right now that is 3 years old.

1 pound raisins
1 pound currants
1 pound mixed glazed fruits
1 pound glazed whole cherries
1 pound candied pineapple
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups butter
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. mace
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cardamom
12 eggs
1 tbsp. lemon extract
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (I cut this out)
1 tbsp. sherry or port (I cut this out)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup whole almonds, blanched

Mix raisins, currants, mixed fruits, cherries and pineapple the day before cooking and keep in a cool placed to blend flavors. (I add about 1/2 cup brandy and let the fruits macerate overnight).

Grease two 9 1/2 by 5 1/4 inch bread pans; line bottoms and sides with strips of heavy brown paper, grease paper. (This was an old-fashioned technique in the days prior to non-stick baking pans and cooking spray. I use a non-stick pan).

Lightly cream sugar, butter and salt. Add spices. Slowly stir in eggs gradually to blend; add extracts and wine. (I cut out the wine because I prefer the cake with just the flavor of brandy). Then add flour, mixing lightly. Add fruits and nuts; combine well.

Pour into prepared pans, filling them 3/4 full. Bake at 300° approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cool thoroughly; remove from pans. Makes about 5 pounds.

NOTE: Since oven temperatures vary, watch closely -- do not overbake.

#295 nakji

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 04:23 AM

Sounds gorgeous!

Please note that the fruitcake I make this year won't be ready to eat until 2011 at the earliest.


What, specifically, do you find the aging adds to the cake? Doesn't it just make it taste like booze? Or do you find other flavours develop?

A co-worker noted that the season's first dried persimmons are out now, so I'm going to pick up a pack to go into my cake this year.

#296 David Ross

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 06:35 AM

Sounds gorgeous!

Please note that the fruitcake I make this year won't be ready to eat until 2011 at the earliest.


What, specifically, do you find the aging adds to the cake? Doesn't it just make it taste like booze? Or do you find other flavours develop?

A co-worker noted that the season's first dried persimmons are out now, so I'm going to pick up a pack to go into my cake this year.

I age my fruitcakes for a couple of reasons. I do think the brandy "soak" over the course of a year or more does bring out more of the flavors of the fruits in the cake while giving it a deeper texture. I've tasted "fresh" fruitcakes and they just don't have the full flavors of the aged cakes. The second reason is purely sentimental. I learned about aging fruitcakes from my Great Aunt Bertie Pink. A teetotaler, (at least publicly), Aunt Bertie only visited the liquor store once a year and that was to purchase the booze for her fruitcake. She'd make her cakes, wrap them in cheesecloth and then douse them with brandy and put them up in the root cellar to age. That memory is imprinted in my mind so I've carried on the tradition.

(And I've come close, but have never been able to put forth a dark fruitcake as delicious as Bertie's).

#297 nakji

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:15 AM

How many years do you think she aged her cakes?

I went to the sweetmeats shop today on my way home from work and picked out about 2 kilo worth of dried fruits and nuts.

I got dried kiwifruit, dried persimmon, dried pineapple, green raisins, and walnuts. I'm going to use craisins as well for tartness and colour, and lemon zest for a taste highlight. They also had dried figs and dried cherries amongst the dried fruits I could actually identify, but the figs would be too crunchy, I think, and the cherries were dried black - not so attractive.

I like the idea of soaking the fruits in booze, and I've got some Cointreau that just might do the trick. I'd like to add in some light spice to the cake recipe as well. I'm thinking cardamon, but I'm not sure.

#298 andiesenji

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:44 AM

Try steaming just some of the fruit before dousing it in the booze. I think you will find it takes up the booze easier and it certainly improves the look as many fruits will look like stained glass after a little steaming.
"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

#299 nakji

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:55 PM

How long do you recommend steaming the fruits for? And any reason to steam just some of the fruit rather than all? The kiwifruit already tastes and looks glace, but the dried pineapple and cranberries I'd like to plump up a bit.

#300 helenjp

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 10:54 PM

You mean those hard litle white figs? They are OK in fruitcakes when soaked or otherwise softened. You're on the right track with the dried persimmons - I think they're a great sub for big, soft, brown figs!

Citrus...I'm thinking of using candied kumquats this year, especially if I can get rid of some of the sugar.

Tartness...kiwifruit are nice but like pineapple they tend to be drenched in citric acid; candied cherry tomatoes are surprisingly successful (and go well with ginger).





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