The Fruitcake TopicDessert
Posted 03 November 2010 - 01:23 AM
Without the glace lemon peel, I feel like I'm missing a bitter note.
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.
Posted 06 November 2010 - 06:19 PM
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.
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.
Posted 06 November 2010 - 10:16 PM
Do keep us posted.
Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:34 AM
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?
Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:50 AM
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.
Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:04 AM
Posted 13 November 2010 - 06:39 PM
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.
Posted 13 November 2010 - 07:23 PM
Posted 13 November 2010 - 11:33 PM
I'll post some progress pictures later.
Posted 14 November 2010 - 11:27 AM
Posted 14 November 2010 - 04:46 PM
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.
Posted 15 November 2010 - 08:15 AM
Posted 15 November 2010 - 10:48 AM
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?
Posted 15 November 2010 - 10:55 AM
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.
Posted 15 November 2010 - 11:59 AM
Posted 15 November 2010 - 09:18 PM
Posted 17 November 2010 - 11:46 AM
Posted 21 November 2010 - 04:36 AM
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
Big black seeded raisins, mixed green and brown sultanas, regular raisins, black currants, apricots, figs, dates, pineapple.
Posted 21 November 2010 - 06:03 AM
The persimmons were a small proportion of the fruit I put in, so I'm hoping they won't be too noticeable.
Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:21 AM
Posted 22 November 2010 - 11:14 AM
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.
Fruits included are mango, papaya, pineapple, apple, peach, pear and red plums.
Posted 23 November 2010 - 09:14 AM
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.
Posted 14 December 2010 - 04:28 PM
i soaked some small loaves with rum and covered with marzipan (and blanched almonds, candied pineapple, angelica, citron, & candied cranberries):
and included pecans in half the batch which i doused in Maker's Mark bourbon, omitting the marzipan:
Posted 14 December 2010 - 06:19 PM
Posted 31 December 2010 - 03:23 AM
Posted 31 December 2010 - 05:40 AM
Gorgeous - fruitcake haters would call that 'making a silk purse out of a sow's ear', I'd call it 'gilding the lily'.
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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.
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