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Suvir Saran

The Fruitcake Topic

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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?

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awbrig   

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:

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foodgeek   
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

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awbrig   

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:

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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?

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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.

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helenas   

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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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Brija   

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:

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Wilfrid   

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.

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Toby   

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?

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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.

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Fish   
....

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

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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

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....

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:

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polly   

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.

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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:

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