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Suvir Saran

The Fruitcake Topic

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Thank you for bringing this thread up, I hadn't seen it before. I love fruitcake dearly and have been thinking lately that it's time to get the fruit for my Jamaican black cake macerating.

I'm a big believer in quality ingredients, I order fruit and nuts from either Vine Tree Orchards or Sunnyland Farms.

I use port and dark rum in my black cake; last year I used Myer's dark rum and am interested if anyone has any ideas for a better quality rum. I used a port recommended by the wine store, it wasn't expensive, but I think I'd like to upgrade the port this year.

Advice for anyone making a black cake: they get better and better as they age. I started eating mine at two months but thought it tasted much better at four months, when I finally ate the last of it. I don't feed a cake because I don't like the boozy taste -- the boozy taste finally completely transmorgrifies at four months.

For my more traditional fruitcake I use both candied cherries and glace pineapple. I like both, I like to eat the glace pineapple just plain. But I'm thinking this year maybe I'll try making a better cherry and a better pineapple. But I don't want to veer too far from what I'm used to, any ideas are welcome.

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Hi Lindacakes - fellow Brooklynite here! And fellow black cake lover to boot.

I began macerating my fruits for black cake back in March. I added another batch of fruits to my bucket in April at my friend's request since she wants to buy 5 cakes from me in December.

I don't put nuts in my black cake but I ordered my candied cherries and mixed peel from http://www.nutsonline.com The quality is better than what you'd get in the supermarket. You may want to try them for your pineapple as well.

I agree with you that black cake gets better with age. Last year I made the cakes in the middle of November, soaked each one with a port wine/rum mixture and let them sit for a month. YUMMY. They were boozy at first, but after that month they mellowed out to a lovely flavor that wasn't overpowering at all. I was still eating off one of those cakes in February.

I use J. Wray and Nephew overproof Jamaican rum to soak the finished cakes. It is QUITE potent, much more so than Myers or Appleton. Wray & Nephew is expensive here in the States, but I visited Jamaica last year and brought back a few bottles on the cheap.

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Howdy, neighbor, glad to meet you!

I think we should form the cult of the black cake -- how did you get involved? Laurie Colwin?

I'm behind on my maceration, but I'm going to order the stuff this weekend.

No nuts? You don't use ground pecans in the actual cake?

Thanks for the rum tip, I'll give it a try. I have the sort of twisted desire to always up the quality ante and try to get the cake better and better.

Do you stir your fruit? I've heard people advocate for truly mashed fruit, untouched fruit, stirred fruit, unstirred fruit, the whole shebang.

I don't see any harm in stirring the fruit once in a while to keep the alcohol evened out.

Do you feed your finished cake on rum?

Last year I had seven fruitcakes, two kinds, aging in my closet and I felt rich.

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I first got hooked on black cake due to the family of a late friend of mine. Her family was from Guyana and everytime her family had a birthday party or other affair, there was black cake present. Me being very American (although I do have ancestry in the Caribbean), didn't know what it was until I tasted it! YUMMY. So I've liked black cake since I was a kid.

Her mom was very proprietary about the recipe. As a matter of fact, she wouldn't even give her two daughters the recipe, which I found strange. I always thought it would be the type of thing to be passed down from generation to generation, particularly from mother to daughter. But her mom was very tight about giving away any of her recipes, much less black cake. Unfortunately my friend died at age 24 (which was 10 years ago) and I wonder if the mother ever gave the other daughter the recipe. But I digress...

Anyway about 10, 11 years ago, a Guyanese co-worker generously gave me HER mother's recipe. That's the recipe I've been using for the past several years and it comes out wonderfully! To be honest, I think my black cake now rivals (or even surpasses) hers.

I don't put nuts in it, although I'm aware that some people do. The recipe for black cake varies somewhat from island to island but the basic premise is the same. Of course each country thinks their recipe is the best, but I think the recipe I have works just fine. I've had Jamaicans, Barbadians, Guyanese, Trinidadians & St. Kittians taste it and have gotten nothing but rave reviews (not to toot my own horn of course :laugh: ) Of course I did get some criticism that Americans don't know how to make black cake. But once they tasted it, their concerns were melted away.

Yes, I do stir my fruit. I have a large plastic bucket in which I've using to macerate 4 recipes worth of ground up fruit. Every so often I'll liberally pour in some more rum and port wine. Then I'll stir the fruit to evenly distribute the liquor. I haven't had any problems doing that.

I do finish my cakes on a rum and port wine combo. I make one size cake every year - it's a 7" round about 2 1/2 pounds in total weight. I usually add about 4-5 ounces of the rum/wine combo to each cake and let it "mellow out" for 3 weeks to a month before they're ready to eat. Some people like their cakes more "boozy" so I'll give those cakes a little extra liquor splash. :laugh:

Along with my black cake recipe, I have copious notes on what the batter should look like, how much batter each pan should contain, sources for fruits & difficult-to-find ingredients like burnt sugar and/or browning and other observations I've made over the years.

Black cake has been my most popular Christmas cake over the last 3 years.

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Seeing this topic has sent me looking for my mother's fab dark fruit cake receipe as it is the time of the year to make these lucious beauties.

Thinking of fruit cake reminds me of the time I used Mom's receipe to make three layers for the wedding cake of my brother-in-law. I baked the layers well in advance to allow for ageing and as I am no cake decorator sent the cakes off to an excellent cake making shop for decorating by their prize winning cake decorator. What I did not know is that he had never decorated or used fruit cakes as wedding cakes and he thought the cakes were too hard to use and steamed them before he decorated them. :unsure: I picked the completed cake up to take to the reception and by the time I had delivered it to the reception in a large Toronto hotel there was a noticeable tilt to the cake layers (he had seperated the layers with columns). :wacko: I tried to fix the tilt without much success and went to the wedding. By the time the reception took place the cake was extremely lop sided as the columns had sunk into the layer below, the bride was not in tears but certainly no pleased (understatement) and I was mortified. :sad: The cake however tasted great. :biggrin:

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Thanks for the explique -- if you are willing to share that recipe, I would be interested. I understand if you don't.

Regarding the mother/daughter sharing thing, that is the craziest case of recipe tightness I've ever heard of. It makes sense, though, in the oft seen paradigm of mothers being jealous of their daughters. My mother never bakes any more, and loves it if I make something of "hers" so that she can taste it again. It's a real compliment to me to have her say that mine is as good as hers.

I ordered all of my fruit yesterday -- from Vine Tree Orchards. One stop shopping there, and their fruit is quite nice. I think this year I'm going to try a very good port to see how that would affect the flavor.

I also do the big plastic bucket thing. Imagine what someone who didn't know what it was found it? It's very exciting glop when you know what it's going to turn into, but pretty scary when you don't.

I actually don't like the black cake until it ages for four months. I don't like a directly boozy taste, personally. So I don't feed it, either. Which is good. When you've got a pile of fruitcakes going, feeding them must get very time consuming!

Regarding the wedding cake -- steamed fruit cake? Eee gads. The only home videos blooper things I find funny are the wedding ones -- I suppose because the whole weddding display is pretty false and rife for a foible . . . What does a marriage need more than a lack of pretense and a sense of humor? Yet the symbol of the union is quite the opposite . . .

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...I ordered all of my fruit yesterday -- from Vine Tree Orchards.  One stop shopping there, and their fruit is quite nice.  I think this year I'm going to try a very good port to see how that would affect the flavor.

I also do the big plastic bucket thing.  Imagine what someone who didn't know what it was found it?  It's very exciting glop when you know what it's going to turn into, but pretty scary when you don't.

I actually don't like the black cake until it ages for four months.  I don't like a directly boozy taste, personally.  So I don't feed it, either.  Which is good.  When you've got a pile of fruitcakes going, feeding them must get very time consuming!

...

I just checked out Vine Tree Orchards...their fruit is expensive. The one stop shopping is a plus though.

You can get good quality fruits and have another one stop shopping experience at http://www.nutsonline.com The prices are less expensive than Vine Tree and shipping is fast too!

My husband thinks the macerating bucket of fruit looks gross. He has made some disparaging comments about it - you can just imagine what he said. :laugh:

Personally I can sit back and eat spoonfuls of it; it's just that yummy.

I don't find it too difficult to "feed" the finished fruitcakes. Around Christmas time I have 12 to 16 of them on my kitchen table. I initially add 4 ounces of 1:1 rum & port wine mixture to each cake. Then about 2 weeks later, I'll add another ounce of the mixture to each cake.

I was nibbling off one of these cakes until February and it didn't need any more of my liquor concoction. It was still that moist.

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P.S. - I've found that using Sunmaid raisins & currants worked just fine. But I don't like the quality of supermarket candied cherries & fruitcake mix (mixed peel), so I get those either from Nuts Online or http://www.economycandy.com in Manhattan on the lower East Side.

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I wouldn't want a stranger to find that bucket.

In another thread I bagged a recipe for making one's own candied cherries and I'm going to try doing that for another fruitcake I make -- I don't have time to do it for this one.

Another source I like is Sunnyland Farms. Good nuts. Black walnuts.

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I've made chocolatey-boozy Christmas cakes for years, often individual size ones in the large ("Texas") muffin tins. They make great little gifts, especially for people living alone.

The recipe is one I have adapted for a couple of decades, and I thought I had it perfect until last year when the cookery muse was with me and I made a pale and elegant (or light and bright) version which was a huge success. I give you both here, although I suppose I should post them on recipe Gullet.

First, the original version, which I call:

CHOCOLATE ALCOHOL CHRISTMAS CAKES.

1650 gm dried fruit.

1/3 cup honey or golden syrup.

1 cup alcohol of your choice (choc or choc-orange liqueur is good, whisky or brandy or rum)

shredded or grated rind of one orange and one lemon

100gm (at least) of good quality chocolate, chopped up.

125 gm of nuts, if you wish. Pecans are good.

2 cups plain flour

1 cup self-raising flour

¼ cup cocoa (good quality Dutch, or Callebaut choc powder is great)

250 gm butter (NO substitutes, good cake needs good butter)

300 gm dark brown (or black) sugar

6 eggs.

Mix the fruits, honey,alcohol, and rinds in a big jar, and marinate as long as possible.

When you are ready to make the cake, sift together the flours and cocoa.

Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, then beat in the eggs one at a time.

Fold the fruit mixture, the chopped chocolate, and the nuts into the creamed mixture, then fold in the dry ingredients in 2 batches.

Put in the greased tins, decorate the tops with cherries and nuts if you wish.

This makes one 24 cm cake PLUS 6 small cakes made in LARGE muffin tins, or make all small ones.

Time to cook: the small cakes about 1 hour at 120 degrees Celsius, the large one 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Now the very different version, a la Christmas 2005.

LIGHT & BRIGHT CAKE.

Make it as above, but instead:

Use all red and yellow fruits – dried cranberries (better than glace cherries I think), chopped dried apricot, peach, pear; crystallised ginger; the pale yellow sultanas.

Use a fruity liqueur – I used peach Schnapps because that’s what I had - and it was fantastic, but Grand Marnier or Curacao would be good I think.

I think I added one teaspoon of vanilla extract too.

Use white sugar (vanilla if possible)

No cocoa, use an extra ¼ cup plain flour instead.

White chocolate of course.

Macadamia nuts (slightly roasted first) instead of pecans.

Pour more of the alcohol of your choice over the cakes as they are cooling, and as often afterwards as you can, until time for eating.

Now I realise a there may be a problem with conversion to Imperial measures or American cups etc. Having made a family cookbook a couple of years ago for Christmas, which had to be useable for Aussie and English family, and one American sister-in-law, I made up some conversion charts. I just tried to post them on my blog, but the tables got all scrambled. While I work on it, if you cant find one on the net, I can email it to you.

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Ooooo, this is really nice, thank you -- my scale does the conversion for me.

I've been curious to try a chocolate fruitcake -- I have a small sort of gift book of fruitcake recipes that is quite marvelous, the author gathered a lot of big name cooks' favorite recipes together -- Maida Heatter offers up a chocolate pan forte I've been curious to try.

I'm going to end up with dozens of fruitcakes this winter, I'm afraid . . .

Can you post the address to your blog? I'd love to read it. I'm a big fan of Gastronomica, do you get that? Food culture mag, fascinating.

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Can you post the address to your blog?  I'd love to read it.  I'm a big fan of Gastronomica, do you get that?  Food culture mag, fascinating.

Hello Linda - if you make them, please let me know how they turn out!

My blog address is below my sig, it is http://www.theoldfoodie.blogspot.com/. This is my main (i.e original ) site where I post my regular 400 words each weekday. I have a Companion site at http://companiontotheoldfoodie.blogspot.com/ where I post all sorts of extra bits and pieces. The recipe archive is on the Companion site at http://companiontotheoldfoodie.blogspot.co...pe-archive.html

- there is a motley lot of historic recipes there from the 14th century onwards. I will put together a collection of historic fruit cake and Christmas cake recipes and put it on the Companion site soon, and I'll post here when I do.

If there is any other historic recipe that you want, I should be able to find it for you, so please do email me or ask me here.

I dont get Gastronomica, but I get just about everything else! I'm not sure why I dont get it , as I know it is very good. Now you have mentioned it, I will have to subscribe.

Edited to add: I do have a chocolate panforte recipe with macadamias in it - it is great. I think it originally came from Gourmet Traveller mag, so I probably cant post it all here as it would breach copyright, so please email me if you want it. I made two versions last year of it also - one chocolate and one white chocolate. Fantastic for gifts.


Edited by The Old Foodie (log)

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I am going to make this cake -- you've indicated red and yellow fruits for the light cake, but nothing for the chocolate cake.

I'm thinking dates, figs, apricots . . . what else?

I'll marinate the fruits for several months -- okay, or longer?

Is this a fruitcake that needs to age? At least a month? Or do you eat it immediately?

Thanks for your help.

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I am going to make this cake -- you've indicated red and yellow fruits for the light cake, but nothing for the chocolate cake.

I'm thinking dates, figs, apricots . . . what else?

I'll marinate the fruits for several months -- okay, or longer?

Is this a fruitcake that needs to age?  At least a month?  Or do you eat it immediately?

Thanks for your help.

For the dark chocolate cake I have used just about anything - currants sultanas raisins figs prunes dates cherries apricots - it doesn't matter. The marinating in the booze should be a few weeks but the longer the better. One year I made a big jar up, went to put it at the back of a cupboard, and found an unused jar from the previous year, so I used it and it was fabulous.

The cake can be eaten immediately, although it keeps very well. The white chocolate experiment last year did not get chance to age! It should keep just as well I would think.

You might like this one too - it is very different - it was my sister-in-law's contribution to our family Christmas Cookbook that we made a couple of years ago. I give it to you exactly as she gave it to me.

“This is my Sri-Lankan friend Elaine's Christmas Cake recipe. This recipe originated with the Dutch people who settled in Ceylon in the sixteenth century, and their descendants have added the famous spices of the island - cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. This is a beautifully rich, moist cake, which will keep for several months.”

Ingredients;

1/4lb butter

1/2lb sugar

6 eggs

3 egg whites

1/4lb semolina

2 oz candied peel

2 oz glace cherries

2 oz raisins

2 oz currants

8 oz sultanas

2 oz crystallised pawpaw

almond essence ( a few drops)

1 oz vanilla essence

1 oz rosewater

2 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons honey

4 oz strawberry jam

4 oz pineapple jam

1/4lb slivered almonds

1/4lb raw cashew nuts

4 oz preserved ginger

1/2 teaspoon each of ground cardamom,

cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

Preparation;

Chop all the fruit, except the currants and the sultanas, which can be left whole.

Put fruit into a bowl with the honey, brandy, and the three essences. Cover and leave for 24 hours.

Line a 10 inch x 11 inch cake tin with several thickness of paper and grease the top layer well. Slice the cashew nuts, or put them through the meat

mincer.

Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg yolks and beat until light. Gradually fold in the semolina, then the strawberry and pineapple jams. Next add the fruit mixture and the sliced cashews and almonds, then add the spices. Finally, beat the egg whites and fold these in.

Cooking;

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and put into a 300 degree (automatic) oven. After 1 hour, lower the temperature to 250 degree, and bake for another hour. Cover the top with alfoil if it starts to get too brown.

Remove from oven and leave the cake to cool in the tin.

When quite cold, turn the cake out of the tin.

I haven't made this one myself, but I've eaten my SIL's version and it is terrific.

Janet

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I need to make a fruitcake for a wedding at the end of September and need a recipe that doesn't contain alcohol. I've read this thread and found a couple of good recipes, but don't know how they would work without the alcohol in them.

I think I can macerate the fruit in orange juice.

Any ideas on making a great tasting fruitcake?

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OJ might make for a very sweet cake. For simpler fruit cakes, my mother and grandmother used to soak fruit in black tea, with some added citrus juice.

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It's about time for me to make fruitcake, which I'll be taking home for my mother at Christmastime. I'm using a recipe which makes 17lbs of fruitcake, but the recipe doesn't say what sized pans to use, or how many pans it makes. I was thinking of making 1/8th of the recipe. About what sized pan would a 2-lb fruitcake need? Would a loaf pan be big enough? Too small?

To give you an idea, I'll post the ingredient list. The full recipe quantities are to the left of the ingredients, and just to the right of each ingredient is roughly 1/8 of the original quantity. I'm planning on using a total of 100g nuts, 200g candied fruit, and 285g dried fruits.


454g blanched almonds          1/2 cup brandy plus more for pouring---15mL
227g pecans                               8 to 10 ounces jam (blackberry preferred)--28g
114g walnuts                               4 teaspoons ground cinnamon---1/2t
454g shredded citron             1/2 teaspoon ground allspice---1/16t
227g lemon peel           2 teaspoons ground nutmeg---1/4t
227g orange peel           1/2 teaspoon ground cloves—1/16t
227g candied pineapple           454g butter at room temperature---57g
454g candied cherries           454g brown sugar---57g
908g seedless raisins             1 cup molasses---32mL
454g dried figs          12 eggs, beaten until foamy---1.5 eggs
454g pitted dates          454g all-purpose flour---57g
454g dried currants          2 teaspoons salt---1/4 t

(Sorry it's so difficult to read, but I couldn't figure out how to make the tabs work!)

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I'm making andiesenji's MeeMaw's Pork Christmas Cake again this year... today. I already have the mincemeat made up, so today is the cake itself.

And then I'm stuffing a chicken with the leftover pork mincemeat, so I can eat it immediately.

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A couple of years ago I posted some tips on how to make the preparation of fruitcakes in particular a bit easier by doing all the tricky bits in steps over a period of days:

I used to make 20 or more fruitcakes every year and having all the detailed stuff preped ahead of time saved a lot of mistakes.

These do not need to be refrigerated. When I say cool, I mean not near a heat source. Don't put them on top of the refrigerator which produces heat. It is usually cooler near the floor so if you have a kettle or stockpot that is big enough to hold the cake, wrap them well put them into the kettle and cover it and place it in a low cupboard or on the floor in a closet. (That is as long as you don't have radiant heating in your floor.) Have you ever noticed how cold cast aluminum pots always seem to feel? I think the aluminum acts as a heat sink, (in fact, I have an aluminum stand for my new MacBook Pro to pull the heat away from the bottom). So, I have two of the largest of the old Magnalite roasters and find that each one will hold two large fruitcakes in the bottom with the roasting place set on top of these, two more can be stacked on them and the lid effectively seals it. Placed on the clay tile floor in my pantry, the temp in these roasters remained less than 60 degrees, even during the hottest days. This morning the temp was 50.

Now here is my suggestion for making cakes like these that include a lot of ingredients.

Do not try to do it all at once, it seems like a really big job. Instead start out with measuring out the fruit, set it to soak.

On another day measure out ALL of the dry ingredients, place in ziploc bags and store in a large bowl, a bus tub or bin, or one of the jumbo ziploc bags along with a copy of the recipe.

Chop the nuts and store them in a ziploc bag (in the freezer if it will be more than a few days).

Drain and measure the fruits that have been soaking and store them in ziploc bags or a container that will seal tightly.

Then when you are ready to assemble the recipe all you have to do is get out the perishable ingredients and mix eveything together, then bake.

I do this with the many cookie recipes I do each year. I have a bunch of bus trays and totes.

Each one is for a particular recipe. I line them up and measure out all the dry ingredients, and store in ziploc bags, along with any special utensils needed for a particular recipe, put the tray or tote in a large plastic bag and stack them in the pantry.

This way I do not get into the middle of a recipe and find I am missing an ingredient and it just generally makes things go so much faster

It helps to make a copy of the recipe or if you have a scanner, scan and print it in larger type and use a highlighter on every other line of type, particularly for the ingredients.

It is very easy to miss an ingredient in a long list of items and the results can be disastrous if you omit an important ingredient.

If you wear reading glasses, the half-lens type, having the alternate lines highlighted is especially important. One of my neighbors noticed that she had missed three ingredients in a 31-item list because some of the lines effectively seemed to dissapear when she looked down the list because the top edge of the lens (rimless) caused distortion. She only caught the omission because she had her daughter read off the list to her while she checked the little cups that held each ingredient.

Some ingredients are not critical, but some are absolutely essential.

Incidentally, I have made and canned 6 quarts of the port mincemeat. I have plans.............


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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I made my black cake on Saturday. I have five of them resting in the closet. Last year I discovered that the cake didn't really taste spectacular until the fourth month, so I decided to bake earlier this year.

So, I spent a greater part of yesterday reading comparative recipes and noting the aging process. Most cakes only age their fruit for a day and then the cake itself for a month. Depending on the alcohol content.

Janet, are you out there? I have my bucket of fruit for the chocolate alcohol cake still sitting and am wondering when I should make the cakes. Do they need to age, can they keep?

I'm curious about this Mee Maw cake . . .

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Four months! I just started soaking a few days ago...I'm using the Colwin/ Kris recipe. Do you think I should soak less and bake sooner or soak more and bake later? This is big for me... I need the balance to be right!

How do you store your cakes while they mellow, Linda? I know some people freeze them but somehow this doesn't seem right...

thanks.

I made my black cake on Saturday.  I have five of them resting in the closet.  Last year I discovered that the cake didn't really taste spectacular until the fourth month, so I decided to bake earlier this year.

So, I spent a greater part of yesterday reading comparative recipes and noting the aging process.  Most cakes only age their fruit for a day and then the cake itself for a month.  Depending on the alcohol content.

Janet, are you out there?  I have my bucket of fruit for the chocolate alcohol cake still sitting and am wondering when I should make the cakes.  Do they need to age, can they keep? 

I'm curious about this Mee Maw cake . . .

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Janet, are you out there?  I have my bucket of fruit for the chocolate alcohol cake still sitting and am wondering when I should make the cakes.  Do they need to age, can they keep? 

I'm curious about this Mee Maw cake . . .

Hi Linda. The chocolate alcohol cakes taste pretty good straight away - I think it is something about the chocolate that gives the rich deep taste from the beginning. They do keep well though, so you can make them ahead if you like. I have frozen the individual ones and they keep virtually for ever that way.

The white chocolate version with the red and yellow fruit was definitely better "fresh" - I have no idea why that is, but I may have overcooked it slightly. It was a new invention last year, so I dont have multiple experiences to go by.

Janet

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I made my black cake on Saturday.  I have five of them resting in the closet.  Last year I discovered that the cake didn't really taste spectacular until the fourth month, so I decided to bake earlier this year.

So, I spent a greater part of yesterday reading comparative recipes and noting the aging process.  Most cakes only age their fruit for a day and then the cake itself for a month.  Depending on the alcohol content.

Janet, are you out there?  I have my bucket of fruit for the chocolate alcohol cake still sitting and am wondering when I should make the cakes.  Do they need to age, can they keep? 

I'm curious about this Mee Maw cake . . .

This is the thread about the "MeeMaw" Pork Cake adventures of Viva and her fine photos.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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It depends on when you need the cakes to be edible. If you are going for Christmas, I would soak for a month only. Your cakes will be two months old at Christmas, which is edible, but better if you wait -- my opinion. I found this out by accident -- I found a piece of cake I'd forgotten about and it was magnificent. So I started earlier this year.

Next year I have it on my calendar to start the fruit May 1 and bake the cakes September 1. This means four months on each side.

What I do is wrap the completely cooled cake with plastic wrap and then again with foil. Then I set them in the cupboard where it is cool. I do not feed the cakes on additional liquor during the aging process. I am a rebel in this regard. A West Indian woman told me that she'd forgotten about a cake for about a year, fed it for a couple of months and it was fine.

Do not freeze the cake -- it doesn't age when frozen. It's lost time.

I use a mild variation of Lori Colwin's. Each year I try to up the ante ingredient wise. This year I have $50 twenty-year-old port in the cake. I'm so excited I can't sit still.

For an amusing tale of waiting for a fruitcake to age, see:

http://www.himonkey.net/holiday/xmas/fcw/index.html

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Wow Lindacakes, you really got an early start on your black cakes.

I won't bake mine until mid November. I'll soak them in port wine/rum mixture for a month. They'll be ready then. :)

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      BANOFFE - MY DAUGHTER'S BIRTHDAY CAKE
       
      This year, mischievous nature tried to upset my daughter's birthday plans. Spending your birthday in bed with a thermometer isn't an excellent idea ¬– even for an adult. For a teenager it is a drama comparable to cancelled holidays. My daughter told me that you are thirteen only once. And she was right. Literally and figuratively.

      I wanted to sugar the pill for her on this day and cheer her up for a bit, so I prepared a caramel cake with bananas – banoffee in the form of a small birthday cake. My sweet magic and the dinner from her favourite restaurant worked, and in the end her birthday was quite nice.

      Ingredients (17cm cake tin):
      150g of biscuits
      75g of butter
      200ml of 30% sweet cream
      250g of mascarpone cheese
      2 tablespoons of caster sugar
      2 bananas
      300g of fudge
      1 teaspoon of dark cocoa

      Break the biscuits into very small pieces or blend them. Melt the butter and mix it up with the biscuits until you have dough like wet sand. Put it into a cake tin and form the base. It is worth rolling it flat with a glass. Leave it in the fridge for one hour. Spread the biscuit layer with fudge and arrange the sliced bananas on top. Whisk the chilled sweet cream with the caster sugar. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix it in. Put the mixture onto the bananas and make it even. Sprinkle with the dark cocoa and decorate as you like. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours (best for the whole night).

      Enjoy your meal!

    • By Kasia
      ON THE CHRISTMAS TABLE - CHRISTMAS EVE CRANBERRY KISSEL
       
      One of my friends from Ukraine told me about her traditional Christmas dishes. Except for stuffed cabbage with potatoes (which I have made already) I was surprised about cranberry kissel. I searched the Internet and I saw that in many Polish homes Christmas Eve supper ends with cranberry kissel. In my home we always drink compote with dried fruit, but maybe this year we will try a new dish on our Christmas menu.

      I wonder why cranberries are on the Christmas table. I didn't find any particular information about it (except the fact it is tradition). I think that a few years ago cranberries were treated as a natural cure which aids digestion, and this could be quite useful after a hefty Christmas meal!

      At my Ukrainian friends' home Christmas kissel is runny like a drink, but you can prepare it like a dessert with a more dense texture. I made the drink version, but you should choose which is better for you.

      Ingredients:
      500g of cranberries
      a piece of cinnamon and a couple of cloves
      6-8 tablespoons of sugar
      2-3 tablespoons of potato flour

      Wash the cranberries and put them with the cinnamon and cloves in a pan. Pour in 500ml of water and boil until the fruit is soft. Remove the cinnamon and cloves and blend the rest. Add the sugar and mix it until it has dissolved. Sieve the cranberry mousse to make a smooth texture. Mix the potato flour with a bit of cold water. Boil the cranberry mousse and add the mixed potato flour, stirring constantly so it is not lumpy. Boil for a while. Pour the kissel into some glasses.

      Enjoy your meal!

    • By Kasia
      COURGETTE MUFFINS WITH LEMON
       
      Since I found the recipe for courgette muffins with lemon on the Polish blog gotujzcukiereczkiem I decided to prepare them. My children looked at the ingredients with surprise. Courgette and cakes don't go together well. The argument that they add caster sugar to the courgette pancakes didn't convince them. The muffins reminded my husband of the lemon cake his grandma used to prepare many years ago. I just liked them. They were short lived, because they disappeared in no time, slightly lemony, moist and not too sweet. They were perfect.

      If I didn't know they had courgette in them, I would never believe it. Try it, because it is worth it.

      Ingredients (for 12 muffins)
      muffins
      200g of flour
      a pinch of salt
      half a teaspoon of baking soda
      half a teaspoon of baking powder
      150g of sugar
      peel from one lemon
      a tablespoon of lemon juice
      2 eggs
      150ml of oil
      a teaspoon of vanilla essence
      a teaspoon of lemon essence
      210g of grated courgette
      icing:
      3 tablespoons of milk
      10 tablespoons of caster sugar
      1 teaspoon of lemon essence

      Heat the oven up to 170C. Put some paper muffin moulds into the "dimples" of a baking pan for muffins.
      Mix together the dry ingredients of the muffins: flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix together the sugar and lemon peel in a separate bowl. Add the eggs, oil, lemon juice and both essences. Mix them in. Add the dry ingredients and mix them in. Grate the unpeeled courgette, don't squeeze and don't pour away the liquid. Add the courgette to the dough and mix it in. Put the dough into some paper muffin moulds. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Now prepare the icing. Mix the milk with the caster sugar and lemon essence. Decorate the muffins with the lemon icing.

      Enjoy your meal!


    • By Kasia
      MILLET GROATS CHOCOLATE CREME WITH CRANBERRY MOUSSE
       
      Today I would like to share with you the recipe for the best chocolate crème I have ever eaten. It is thick, smooth and very chocolaty in flavour and colour. Despite the chocolate, the dessert isn't too sweet. But if somebody thinks that it is, I recommend serving it with slightly sour fruit mousse. You can use cherries, currants or cranberries. You will make an unusually yummy arrangement and your dessert will look beautiful.

      My children were delighted with this dessert. I told them about the fact it had been made with millet groats after they had eaten it, and ... they didn't believe me. Next time I will prepare the millet groats crème with a double portion of ingredients.

      Ingredients (for 4 people)
      chocolate crème
      100g of millet groats
      200g of dark chocolate
      1 tablespoon of dark cocoa
      250ml of almond milk
      fruit mousse
      250g of fresh cranberries
      juice and peel of one orange
      half a teaspoon of grated ginger
      4 tablespoons of brown sugar

      Boil the millet groats in salty water and drain them. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Blend the millet groats, chocolate, cocoa and milk very thoroughly until you have very smooth crème. Pour the milk in gradually to make the right consistency of your desert. Prepare the fruit mousse. Put the washed cranberries, ginger, juice orange peel and sugar into a pot. Boil until the fruits are soft. Blend. Put the chocolate crème into some small bowls. Put the fruit mousse on top. Decorate with peppermint leaves. Serve at once or chilled.

      Enjoy your meal!


    • By Kasia
      SWIFT HOMEMADE NAPOLEON
       
      Sometimes we have days – may there be as few as possible – when nothing works out. I can even burn the water for tea. I have two ways of dealing with such days. The first is to sit in a corner and wait it out – maybe it will sort itself out. I can only do this when I'm alone. When I have a hungry family I have to look for another way. My second way is to use only well-known recipes and stick to them irregardless of how well I know them. Any experiments in this situation will end in failure.

      Last weekend was just difficult. My husband helped me prepare dinner, but the dessert was my problem alone. Following the rules, I used a recipe for napoleon that is so simple there is no way you could fail. I recommend it to anyone struggling with creative impotence or who likes glamourous results after not too much effort in the kitchen.
       
      Ingredients (for 9 napoleons)
      1 pack of chilled French pastry
      500ml of milk
      6 tablespoons of sugar
      1 packet of powdered blancmange
      50g of butter
      2 egg yolks
      1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
      1 tablespoons of potato flour
      2 tablespoons of flour
      caster sugar

      Heat the oven up to 180C. Cover a baking tray with some baking paper.
      Cut the French pastry in half. Bake one half for 20 minutes. Remove it from the tray. Cut the second part into 9 squares. A cake prepared in this way is easier to divide into portions. Put them on the paper and bake for 20 minutes.
      Now prepare the crème. Boil 400ml of the milk with the sugar, vanilla essence and butter. Mix the rest of the milk with the powdered blancmange, flour and potato flour and egg yolks. When the milk has boiled, take it off the heat and add it to the mixture, stirring constantly. Put it on the heat and boil, stirring until the mixture is coagulated. Take the pot off the heat. Put the warm mixture on the whole part of the French pasty and then cover it with the sliced part of the pastry. Cover the dessert with aluminium foil and leave in the fridge for a few hours. Cut and sprinkle with the caster sugar before serving.
       
       

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