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The Fruitcake Topic

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#301 nakji

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 01:23 AM

I did think they would be too hard...I didn't think of softening them, though.

Without the glace lemon peel, I feel like I'm missing a bitter note.

#302 andiesenji

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 08:46 AM

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.


It all depends on the fruit itself. Some need only five minutes of steaming and others, especially if they have been sitting around for awhile, need more time. I test with a sharp bamboo skewer, when it penetrates easily and the fruit looks more translucent than when I started, and it has a soft, chewy texture, it's ready.
"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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#303 Kay

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 06:19 PM

Hi, my name is Kay and I am brand new to Egullet and also to baking fruitcake. As a home baker with persistently checkered results, I really never thought that I would ever tackle the task of trying to reproduce my mother’s fruitcake of the early 60’s with really nothing to go on. Hers was dark, moist and I think she used apricot brandy, but I was a schoolgirl and not really paying attention.

After enjoying this fruitcake discussion, I worked up my courage and pulled together several recipes that seemed close, with much from the Great Northern Rail recipe from David Ross. I scaled my recipe nice and small to try things out and after baking only the third small loaf, I am pretty content that I have the flavor and texture I was looking for.

Thanks to everyone and to David for your contributions. So far there has been no more than 24 hours of ripening happening here. My first loaf had fruit in too large of pieces, so corrected that. The second loaf was baked in a different loaf pan and ended up being way undercooked so it had to go. Now that hopefully I have the basics under control, I will now bake several loaves, and then ripen till mid December or so. I am very excited. I will try to add a photo or 2 here if I can.

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#304 David Ross

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 07:15 PM

How many years do you think she aged her cakes?


I'm not exactly sure how long Aunt Bertie aged her fruitcakes, but based on my memories and what I remember her saying was that the "young" fruitcakes were at least two years old and the "aged" cakes were over five years.

#305 andiesenji

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 10:16 PM

Kay, your fruitcake looks beautiful.

Do keep us posted.
"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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#306 nakji

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:34 AM

I was organized enough to cut up my fruit the other night in preparation for making my cakes this weekend.

I steamed the cranberries, and they're now soaking in Cointreau. I also steamed the pineapple slices, which were quite caramelised and almost even smoky. I'm soaking them in a bit of bourbon. I've got sliced kiwis and Xinjiang sultanas for green, plus fresh walnut halves. They were quite expensive, even for China - 50 RMB for 500g.

I'm going to add some lemon zest, and I'd also like to add some cardamon - but black or green, do you think?

#307 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:50 AM

Just saw this topic in the banner this morning.

I like fruit, and I like cake, but the technicolor bits of candied citrus pith in liquor drenched bricks in the cakes my grandmother and then my father used to make were the stuff of nightmares. I have since realized that I can make delicious cakes with dried fruit (stuff good enough to eat plain), sans the liquor, and they can be delightful.

It's fruit, and cake, and actually tastes good.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 12 November 2010 - 08:52 AM.


#308 nakji

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:04 AM

I'm not a fan of citrus pith myself, which is why I'm using zest - and I see your recipe includes cardamon. But for me, the booze is one of the nicest parts. Well, that and the marzipan layer.

#309 nakji

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 06:39 PM

I finally made the time to bake these on Saturday.

I had the fruits steamed and soaking since Thursday? Wednesday? I can't remember.

The recipe was built off of Jeffrey Steingarten's white fruitcake, which I found at Bon Appegeek.

I made some small adjustments, however. I added two tablespoons only of lemon extract (actually, a bit of the lemoncello I've got brewing), plus the zest of one lemon. I also split the pound of sugar into a half pound white sugar and a half pound brown sugar. This was for practical reasons, as I couldn't find granulated white at my supermarket, so I was stuck with only the half pound I'd had on hand.

I also added one teaspoon of ground green cardamon.

The fruit was a quarter pound dried steamed pineapple soaked in bourbon; a quarter pound of dried cranberries soaked in Cointreau; a quarter pound of dried kiwi, and some dried persimmons to make up the weight. To that, I added a pound of green Xinjiang raisins, and a pound of fresh toasted walnut halves, broken up.


It yielded four cakes. I took one immediately to a group of friends as we got together Saturday afternoon at a local teashop. The chef whipped up a jug of custard for us on the fly, and we had it still warm from the oven. Everyone kept protesting, "But I don't like fruitcake", as they used the crumbs to mop up the custard. I wouldn't use the persimmon again, as they tasted very dusty.

Now I have three left, and I need to figure out how to keep them until Christmas. I don't want to add too much booze, as I think it will overwhelm the flavour. Everything in Suzhou moulds, including my walls and clothes if left in one place for too long, so I need to store creatively. I'd put them in my fridge, but it's a typical Asian fridge size, and I don't want to give up the real estate if I don't have to.

Any suggestions?

#310 janeer

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 07:23 PM

You don't need a lot of additional booze to keep them moist. If you can get cheesecloth, pour a little brandy or bourbon into a small bowl, dip in the cheesecloth, wring it out, and wrap the cakes, then wrap them in foil and, if a tin is not available, a ziplock bag. You can put them in the cupboard like this. Check every 3 wks or so and douse with a bit more brandy if needed; I dip the palm of my hand in a saucer of brandy and just pat the cakes. You really are just moistening, not adding a bunch of booze. They sound like a very successful effort.

#311 nakji

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 11:33 PM

Great. I have enough cheesecloth left in my stocks to do this, and I'll use some bourbon to keep them moist.

I'll post some progress pictures later.

#312 andiesenji

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 11:27 AM

Try using a small spray bottle for applying booze to the cake after it has been wrapped in cheesecloth.
"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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#313 Lindacakes

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 04:46 PM

I would advise against storing your fruitcakes in the refrigerator. The cakes need to age and the cold retards the aging . . . A cool shelf is a good place, if you have one, or a basement. Don't put them anywhere warm.

They will keep with no booze at all, so if you want a light dusting of booze, that's going to be fine.

I think most people who say they don't like fruitcake have just never had proper fruitcake.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#314 nakji

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 08:15 AM

No basement I'm afraid, I'm in a second floor flat. I've left them on a cool counter, and have wrapped two in bourbon cheesecloth and one in Cointreau cheesecloth. We'll see how they fare. I don't want to shut them away in a cupboard, because that's how things seem to mold around here.

#315 Kay

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 10:48 AM

Does anyone have a tried and true method for knowing when a fruitcake is actually done. I have baked several smallish, 3.5 x 7.5" loafs, dark style, and really only one of them was baked through exactly right.

There were evidently minor variations in the batter/fruit, among my various loaves, so my 300 oven for 90 minutes has not always been right. Skewer poke has not worked.

My undercooked loaves look fine at first, have shallow cracks on top which later close as cooled, and loaves are cooled out of pan as soon as reasonable to remove.

They don't fall or anything. They just later start to have a wet texture and don't soak up the brandy and taste a bit soggy.

My one successful loaf was moist but not soggy in texture at all, and soaked up the brandy without being wet. I am holding off from aging a fruitcake, until I have more consistent results.

All is not lost, my husband will eat anything so his afternoon coffee break is very festive these days and my practice fruitcake supply is staying well ahead of him.

Any good tricks or ideas out there?

#316 andiesenji

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 10:55 AM

In another topic about fruit cakes, Jackal 10 posted that the ideal temp is 200° F in the center.

Use an instant read thermometer and check in two or three places. If your probe happens to hit a chunk of fruit, it may read higher because the fruit seems to heat up more than the surrounding cake.


Found the link: Christmas Cake


P.S. I use the same test for steamed puddings.

Edited by andiesenji, 15 November 2010 - 11:02 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
My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

#317 Kay

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 11:59 AM

Thank you andiesenji, for the advice and link. I will use the thermometer test next time for sure.

#318 nakji

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 09:18 PM

That's very helpful info. My first cake was somewhat undercooked at the weekend, but I didn't want to risk overcooking them, so I pulled them all out after they passed a toothpick test.

#319 Kay

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 11:46 AM

This is such a great tip! I have now baked a mini fruitcake, checked its temp when I would have normally thought it was done, and the temp was just under 180 deg. Back in the oven to 195, cooled it, brandied it, and cut it cold the next morning to check. It was definately cooked through, sturdy but moist, and sliced well cold. All that's left is to let time and more brandy do its work.

#320 helenjp

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 04:36 AM

I tried the steaming trick this year...poured over a little rum or brandy, depending on the fruit, while still very hot. Half the cakes are still in the oven, the others are cooling, but I feel satisfied with the steaming approach - the fruit wasn't as dropsically distended as a "boiled fruitcake" technique makes it, and the steaming helped strip off the worst of the encrusted sugar.

Digital probe thermometer - oh yes, I love this tip, thank you! When the probe registered 93 deg. C, the sides were pulling away from the cake mold, but the top had not yet cracked. Temperature control was my biggest problem, as I have a small, new, and heavily automated Japanese oven. The emphasis on low power consumption seems to have resulted in an oven that can't get back up to temperature rapidly when food is placed in the heated oven, and last year's Christmas baking was a frustrating experience - the cakes were cooked, and they were OK, but I was not really happy with the final result.

Erin, sorry to hear about the musty flavor in the dried persimmons - I have occasionally had musty/moldy persimmons and the fustiness seems to develop round the sepals. Persimmons have done very badly in Japan this year, and I have not yet seen any dried ones (and precious few fresh ones) in the supermarket. Couldn't find the usual glace kiwifruit either so this year's cakes contain:

Lemon and mandarin zest
Glace cherry tomatoes
Candied ginger
Big black seeded raisins, mixed green and brown sultanas, regular raisins, black currants, apricots, figs, dates, pineapple.

#321 nakji

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 06:03 AM

Helen, they sound excellent. Thanks for the bump-up, it's reminder to bathe my precious with a little booze.

The persimmons were a small proportion of the fruit I put in, so I'm hoping they won't be too noticeable.

#322 Lindacakes

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:21 AM

I have undercooked a fruitcake before. I toasted the slices and they were very nice, actually.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#323 andiesenji

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 11:14 AM

Here's an illustration for those who might still be a bit hesitant about the efficacy of steaming dried fruit.

I took these photos a year ago and as they are of a batch of mixed fruit (plus some candied ginger that has also dried out) they are an excellent example of how steaming changes the fruit from hard and opaque to translucent, attractive and useful.

Mixed fruit dry.png

Fruit after steaming.png

Fruits included are mango, papaya, pineapple, apple, peach, pear and red plums.
"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

#324 Lindacakes

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 09:14 AM

Glorious fruit arisen from the dead!!!

I tried one of my 2010 black cakes last night.

Hee hee. Superb, if I do say so myself. Makes up for the year I thought they'd make wonderful squirrel food.

New secret ingredient: Peychaud's bitters.
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#325 dystopiandreamgirl

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 04:28 PM

I've been wanting to make fruitcake for decades but am usually too busy. This year, after reading through this entire thread I finally managed to bake a batch in mid-November, which i know isn't enough aging for some of you who post here, but i was pleased with the taste after only a few weeks. I also realized that i didn't want to bake it or even eat it so much as i just wanted to decorate it! (and give it away)

i soaked some small loaves with rum and covered with marzipan (and blanched almonds, candied pineapple, angelica, citron, & candied cranberries):

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and included pecans in half the batch which i doused in Maker's Mark bourbon, omitting the marzipan:


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#326 janeer

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 06:12 PM

Even fruitcake-haters will LOVE those, DDgirl. They are absolutely gorgeous.

#327 scubadoo97

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 06:19 PM

Agreed they all look fantastic but my favorite one is the last pictured and sounds delicious

#328 dystopiandreamgirl

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 03:23 AM

made petit fours out of a pan of fruitcake with a layer of ganache to adhere the marzipan...

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#329 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 05:40 AM

made petit fours out of a pan of fruitcake with a layer of ganache to adhere the marzipan...

DSC01940.JPG

Gorgeous - fruitcake haters would call that 'making a silk purse out of a sow's ear', I'd call it 'gilding the lily'.

#330 Lindacakes

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 08:51 AM

Question for the fruitcake peeps.

 

Big jar of fruit soaking in alcohol, right?

I have been using a 6-quart plastic container with lid.

I try to stay away from plastic, and I'm thinking six months with alcohol is not a good thing.

So, I am thinking, "Crock!" and I've been looking around for one, but most do not have lids.

Anyone familiar with these pickling crocks?  Good idea to use one instead of the plastic bucket?

Pricey, but kind of gorgeous.

 

http://www.williams-...AutoRel#reviews


I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.





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