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Suvir Saran

The Fruitcake Topic

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I originally posted the following a couple of years ago. Since then I have also posted it in RecipeGullet, with some corrections.

I was fortunate in that several of my ancestors were avid collectors of receipts and stories about foods from earlier times. The great-grandmother I knew well as a child, came from England. The great-grandmother who found this recipe and adapted it to "modern" measurements around 1880, was born in Charleston and was decended from some of the early colonists.

This is my cocoa fruit cake. 

I have re-created this from a recipe written in difficult-to-read, spidery handwriting in the journal of an ancestor in the early Carolina colonies with the entry dated 1690. 

It is important to use Dutch process cocoa.  I use King Arthur Flour's Double Dutch Cocoa and Black Cocoa Half and Half.

When glazed with the glaze at the end of the recipe, this cake will keep for several days at room temp and will stay incredibly moist with just a loose cover.

I have in the past made this cake well ahead of time and wrapped it tightly in aluminum foil and kept it in a cool place for 6 or more weeks.  However I now live alone.  When my family was still all together, I could not keep it more than a couple of days......to give you an idea of the way things used to be, the original "receipt" called for 6 pounds of twice-boulted flour and 3 full pound loaves of sugar well beaten..... 2 pounds of butter and 3 dozen eggs.  I have cut it down to a manageable size. 

FRUITED COCOA CAKE original recipe ca. 1690

1 cup BUTTER unsalted

1-1/2 tsp SALT kosher

1 tsp CINNAMON ground

1 tsp CLOVES, ground

1 tsp NUTMEG, ground

1 tsp ALLSPICE, ground

6 Tbsp COCOA, Dutch process

3 cups superfine SUGAR

4 large EGGS

3 Tsp BAKING SODA

4 cups, sifted FLOUR

1-1/2 cups CURRANTS

1-1/2 cups DRIED CHERRIES (I prefer the dried Bing cherries

1-1/2 cups WALNUTS, chopped or use pecans or macadamia nuts, etc.

3 cups APPLESAUCE, unsweetened chunky style if you can find it.  Homemade is even better.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Grease and flour a deep 11" x 15" pan or 2 10-inch square pans or 2 holiday mold pans

Or you can use one of the large Bundt pans - if it is heavy cast aluminum bake at 375 degrees and it can take 10 minutes or more longer baking time.  Test in 3 spots in center of mass.

In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, salt, spices, cocoa and sugar. beat until smooth.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each one.

Mix baking soda with flour - reserve 2 heaping tablespoons of the flour.

Instead of sifting the flour you can simply put it in a large bowl and run a wire whisk through it which does the same as sifting, i.e. fluffing it up a bit.  Then measure it, spooning the flour into the measure.

Add flour to batter alternately with applesauce.

Sprinkle the fruit and nuts with the reserved flour, shake well to coat and fold into cake batter.

Pour batter into pan and bake for about 1 hour or until cake tests done. (deeper pans will require longer baking.

ORANGE GLAZE  This is optional - I often serve this cake with only powdered sugar dusted over the top.

GRATED PEEL OF 2 ORANGES

1/3 CUP SUGAR

1/4 CUP WATER

1 CUP ORANGE JUICE

3 TABLESPOONS GRAND MARNIER LIQUOR OR BRANDY

Combine ingredients in saucepan, bring to simmer, stirring constantly, continue cooking until liquid is reduced by 1/2. Drizzle over cake ( I use a turkey baster and a perforated spoon as the glaze is too hot to dip my fingers into which is usually the way I drizzle icing . After the glaze has set, decorate edges of the cake and the plate edges with powdered sugar sifted thru a fine strainer.

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Have you tried it?

I'm doing Janet's chocolate fruit cake this year (chocolate alcohol cake) and I think I've decided to do Maida Heatter's chocolate pan forte, too. It's an endless round of acquiring and using up citron . . .

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Prasantrin, for baking fruit cakes in Japan, I really like the disposable paper cake pans. They don't conduct heat as well as a metal pan, so a small cake in a small oven doesn't dry out badly.

I can only buy one size of round paper cake pan, and I think that your ingredients would make a smallish cake in one of these??? I think I usually make a 2-cake batch which is around double the size of your recipe...

I sometimes douse the sweeter dried fruits such as pineapple in boiling water before soaking it in alcohol, as it is so very sugary.

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Prasantrin, for baking fruit cakes in Japan, I really like the disposable paper cake pans. They don't conduct heat as well as a metal pan, so a small cake in a small oven doesn't dry out badly.

I can only buy one size of round paper cake pan, and I think that your ingredients would make a smallish cake in one of these??? I think I usually make a 2-cake batch which is around double the size of your recipe...

Thanks! I was thining of doubling the recipe, so I might need two pans, too! I actually have some of those sisposable paper pans lying around. I like using them a lot for gifts or for bringing things into work. I think when I finally move back to Canada, I'm going to bring a whole lot of them back with me. Only Y100 a pack! How can you go wrong?

I sometimes douse the sweeter dried fruits such as pineapple in boiling water before soaking it in alcohol, as it is so very sugary.

My mother loves the sugar, though! I haven't decided yet what fruits to use. I have some dried fruits that I always have on hand (raisins, cranberries, assorted other dried berries, prunes, mangoes...) but I feel I need some dates or figs. As for the candied fruits--there doesn't seem to be a huge selection, even at the foreign food stores. So I may get stuck with mostly candied cherries since I'm avoiding mail-order. That's OK. My mother will still love it!

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Glace fruit - can be found at upmarket department stores and fruit boutiques, at upmarket prices. Recently I see glace kiwifruit around.

It's worth glaceeing a little citrus peel - I sometimes freeze the peel in later winter and spring, and glacee it as needed. For baking purposes, you can be a bit more slapdash about the process.

Sometimes I add shredded fresh ginger, to add a bit more variety.

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andiesenji. I want to make your FRUITED COCOA CAKE fot Christmas. What'a your advise - when the cake should be baked? Ahead of time or right before X-mas?

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I usually bake them about a week ahead of time. Depending on how much time I have.

I also sometimes bake them a month or so ahead and freeze them tightly wrapped (now in the "Release" aluminum foil - I used to use waxed paper then the foil) and then in the Jumbo plastic zip close bags.

This cake freezes very well.

If you cook the glaze until it is almost like candy, and paint in on all over the exposed surface, it forms a sort of shell which keeps the cake nicely moist.

When I make it as a Bundt cake, I use one of the "keepers" made for that type of cake and find that it works beautifully to keep the cake fresh.

The first one I bought was 25.99 but they have come down in price significantly.

Amazon has it for 14.99 and they are worth every penny.

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I've baked my black cakes for this year, but I encountered a probelm that perhaps a more experianced baker can help me out with. The first batch I overmixed a bit and they turned out a bit rubbery. I didn't soak them straight out of the oven, and now they won't take on liquid, if I leave them soking do you think they will finally absorb the booze, or is it a lost cause?

My second batch I didn't overmix and the got soaked the minute they came out of the oven. They drank up the liquid quite quickly too.

Is the first batch doomed?

I used a recipe where the flour wasn't added last and I think that contributed to the overmixing. For the second batch I summoned up some courage and followed my intuition, adding the flour last.

thanks for your help guys.

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Luckylies,

I've never, ever encountered this problem before so I'm puzzled.

The only thing I can think of is to use a toothpick or cake tester to poke holes in the "gummy" cakes. Then try pouring the rum/wine combo over the cakes. Hopefully it will sink in that way.

After taking the baked cakes out of the oven, I usually let them cool for about an hour or so. Then I remove them from the cake pan, place them in a tin lined with plastic food wrap and start soaking the cakes then. You want to do it while the cakes are still warm.

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yeah, I guess that's what I'll do. The cake texture isn't terrible, it could just be better. After a few months maybe the funnyness will relax a bit.

These can mellow until christmas right?

Kris thanks for all your help, it's really helping this project run smoothly for me :smile:

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I'm almost positive that after a few weeks soaking with rum and port wine, those cakes will be just fine. lol I doubt anyone will be thinking about their "so-called gumminess." Nor will they notice.

Your cakes will definitely keep for Christmas 2006. Just add a sprinkling of rum/wine every two weeks or so. This will ensure their moistness and freshness.

I find that the liquor tends to settle at the bottom of the cake. So you can even turn the tin upside and let it sit that way for a week or two to evenly distribute the liquors throughout the cake.

If you wanted to keep the cakes longer than Christmas, you would just sprinkle them with a little rum/wine combo every week or so. My black cakes from last Christmas lasted well into February 2006.

However, if you preserve the cakes right, they could probably last until Christmas 2007. A black cake would never last from one Christmas to another in my house though. LOL

I'm going to bake up my batch of this year's black cakes on November 11th. That will give me plenty of time to mellow them out before Christmas.

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Try steaming the rubbery cakes. I would take one of the cakes, cut it into thirds, wrap it tightly in muslin dampened with liquor and place in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes.

Remove it from the steam, cut off a piece and re-wrap the remainder and let it cool. Meanwhile try the piece you cut off. if it is okay, treat the remainder, if not, steam the piece you re-wrapped for another 5 minutes and see how it compares to the first one.

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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.

Isn't this amazing?

When I was married, I wanted a fruitcake, and was told that one could be procured *if* one ordered it at least 3 months in advance, from only god knows where. Comforting in a way, but we didn't have 3 months (my husband was between startups), so we settled for some kind of apple cake filled with some kind of pastry cream. We put the top layer in the freezer - we can do that now, which we couldn't years ago.

Interesting that this thread should turn up now; my dh confessed not long ago that he *likes* fruitcake, and I have excavated my grandmother's recipe. I will have to figure out how to translate it from antique imperial to contemporary standard, and figure out what sort of tins and how many it will need, but I should think it would be fun to make. She made wedding cakes to order occasionally, with marzipan and royal icing ...

We had a friend years ago who made fruitcakes as a hobby, soaking them in sherry, rum, whatever seemed different. He had a huge collection of fruitcake recipes, and everyone he knew got one for Christmas. Some of them were very nice.

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!

Ah .. you were supposed to save the top part of that for the Christening! Or at least for your first anniversary .. lol!

I had better go and make a fruit list if I am actually going to make one of these cakes. I found the plum pudding recipe, too, but it's too late for that this year. Maybe next year ...

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I'll throw down the gauntlet here with an odd question... has anyone ever had fruit cake with lard or pork in it?  Specifically a white fruit cake?

I'm pretty sure my grandmother's fruit cake (wedding cake) uses suet. Which means I have to call about suet, too ... thanks for reminding me :-)

I am trying to re-create a fruit cake for a family member who grew up in Texas, and her aunt used to make a fruit cake that (as she says) "had pork in it".  I ask "was it lard" and she says "I don't know... do you think you can do it?"  The only other thing I can get out of her is that it wasn't actual chunks of pork. 

Ideas??  I was looking at andiesenji's recipe for white fruit cake as my starter... maybe I should use freshly rendered lard in place of butter?  Maybe that "second" rendering of lard (as per the e-Gullet lard recipe) that's more pork-like?

If you can't find out for sure, I'd use leaf lard. Either rendered yourself, or Dietrich's has *beautiful* lard. (610-756-6344) I'd start there anyway ...

A lot of old cake recipes use leaf lard, or part leaf lard. Cheaper than butter. Different flavour, better texture than shortening.

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]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)

Just want to be sure: when you make this cake, do you drain the fruits, or add them with the rest of the alcohol that they didn't absorb when macerating?

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The Pork Cake thread has the story about where the recipe for Christmas Cake made with Pork Mincemeat from my Dad's Grandmother "Meemaw".... Viva's remarkable photos are worth looking at. Hard to believe that was two years ago.

Meemaw's recipe.

The "mincemeat" is not at all like commercial mincemeat but we don't have an alternative term to explain it better.

Pork was much more plentiful than beef (and there is a lot more fat on a hog, pound for pound) in the south, and hogs fatten well on less expensive food and can forage for themselves in the woods, on acorns and roots, so people in the rural areas were much more likely to have pork fat than beef suet.

People in rural England also knew the worth of hogs so I believe that in many cases traditional recipes were altered over time to reflect the materials available at the time, whether pork fat, beef fat, etc.

My maternal great-grandmother came from England and was an avid collector of "receipts" from earlier eras. Since she was born in 1844, earlier times for her meant Regency, Georgian, and etc. She died in 1949, when I was ten, two months shy of her 105th birthday. We talk about the changes we have seen, think about what she saw. The industrial revolution, most of Victoria's reign, Edward, George, Edward and George.

She often talked about how the traditional methods of cooking and baking, and the ingredients had changed so much from when she was a girl.

She really did no cooking herself, I don't think she had ever done so, but she was interested in recipes and cultivated cooks and bakers and winkled their secrets and faithfully recorded them in her journals.

One of my earliest memories was watching her perched on a high stool in the kitchen and giving detailed instructions to the cook on how to prepare something new.


Edited by andiesenji (log)
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The Pork Cake thread has the story about where the recipe for Christmas Cake made with Pork Mincemeat from my Dad's Grandmother "Meemaw"....  Viva's remarkable photos are worth looking at.  Hard to believe that was two years ago.

Meemaw's recipe.

The "mincemeat"  is not at all like commercial mincemeat but we don't have an alternative term to explain it better.

We should maybe be calling it 'sweet mincemeat' ... I have (untested) a lot of recipes for this, whatever you'd like to call it, which call for everything from pork through beef and venison ... the recipe I use is my grandmother's, which rather modestly keeps the meat down to mere suet.

Pork was much more plentiful than beef (and there is a lot more fat on a hog, pound for pound) in the south, and hogs fatten well on less expensive food and can forage for themselves in the woods, on acorns and roots, so people in the rural areas were much more likely to have pork fat than beef suet. 

You'd think so .. but old English recipes seem to be the ones which are dependent on suet. And often, though you can make them with butter or lard, or tallow, they really don't come out 'right' unless you find a butcher who will sell you actual beef suet.

People in rural England also knew the worth of hogs so I believe that in many cases traditional recipes were altered over time to reflect the materials available at the time, whether pork fat, beef fat, etc.

Until the last few years, hog fat was a very desireable commodity for a lot of purposes. I think it's interesting that we started having 'health problems' (apparently) related to fat consumption - after our diets became loaded with hydrogenated fats. I'm sure much of this is excess; all things in moderation seems like a useful principle, but real fat in seems to me to be useful and tasty.

My maternal great-grandmother came from England and was an avid collector of "receipts" from earlier eras.  Since she was born in 1844, earlier times for her meant Regency, Georgian, and etc.  She died in 1949, when I was ten, two months shy of her 105th birthday.  We talk about the changes we have seen, think about what she saw.  The industrial revolution, most of Victoria's reign, Edward, George, Edward and George.

Very true - I like old recipes, and have a good many of my own grandmother's - and some of my husband's grandmother's. I use several of my grandmother's still, partly out of cantankerousness - but I think that old recipes are very interesting, in that they show a kind of evolution of cooking. I like to get hold of old cookbooks, which are often amusing, and just as often enlightening.

Unfortunately there were rather a lot of things she didn't use recipes for, and either my taste memory is flakey or I haven't found the right formula to duplicate them. One day ...

She often talked about how the traditional methods of cooking and baking, and the ingredients had changed so much from when she was a girl. 

She really did no cooking herself, I don't think she had ever done so, but she was interested in recipes and cultivated cooks and bakers and winkled their secrets and faithfully recorded them in her journals. 

One of my earliest memories was watching her perched on a high stool in the kitchen and giving detailed instructions to the cook on how to prepare something new.

One of mine was watching my grandmother draw the Christmas turkey on the kitchen table :-) She worked for several years as a meat cutter, too, and was the scourge of the local butchers - when she wanted a piece of meat, she knew what she wanted, and how she wanted it cut. It made them crazy, being as how she was not only in the wrong time as often as not, but also the wrong part of the world! lol!

Maybe it's genetic ... a few years ago, we bought a side of beef, and I couldn't get the butcher to give me the cuts I wanted from it. In the end, I told him that when he got to the round, just to bone it out and call me and I'd come and get it. He was skeptical. He said 'you don't really just want the whole round, intact ..?'

I said yes I do - just call me when you get it boned, and I'll come and get it.

So he did.

I got the thing cut and packed, but I'll never do that again! lol!

Maybe ... :-)

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Cookman,

Janet hasn't seen your question, apparently about her cake.

I have done the macerating, so maybe I can help --

I used a cup of Grand Marnier and the honey and the amount of fruit called for. The fruit entirely absorbs all of the liquid and becomes a wonderful gob of honeyed fruit.

I have had mine macerating for several months and am about to make my cake, perhaps this weekend. Will most likely end up freezing it as it is not an ageing type fruitcake.

Linda

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Cookman,

Janet hasn't seen your question, apparently about her cake.

I have done the macerating, so maybe I can help --

I used a cup of Grand Marnier and the honey and the amount of fruit called for.  The fruit entirely absorbs all of the liquid and becomes a wonderful gob of honeyed fruit.

I have had mine macerating for several months and am about to make my cake, perhaps this weekend.  Will most likely end up freezing it as it is not an ageing type fruitcake.

Linda

Thanks, Linda. One other question: the original recipe from Janet says to use either a chocolate liqueur or brandy/rum/etc. Do you think the fruit will be too sweet if macerated in a chocolate liqueur?

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Cookman,

Janet hasn't seen your question, apparently about her cake.

I have done the macerating, so maybe I can help --

I used a cup of Grand Marnier and the honey and the amount of fruit called for.  The fruit entirely absorbs all of the liquid and becomes a wonderful gob of honeyed fruit.

I have had mine macerating for several months and am about to make my cake, perhaps this weekend.  Will most likely end up freezing it as it is not an ageing type fruitcake.

Linda

Thanks, Linda. One other question: the original recipe from Janet says to use either a chocolate liqueur or brandy/rum/etc. Do you think the fruit will be too sweet if macerated in a chocolate liqueur?

Hello everyone - I'm just catching up with this thread. Linda's answer on my behalf was exactly right - there's little actual liquid left.

I have used chocolate liqueur and it is fine - probably a little sweeter, but fruit cake is meant to be sweet, isn't it? You could always reduce the sugar by a tablespoon or two if you wanted, I'm sure it would turn out OK.

MY favourite combination a couple of years ago was about half choc liqueur and half orange-y (Grand Marnier I think).

I think next year I might use something nutty like Frangelico.

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Many years ago there was an article in Gourmet about a man who kept pieces of fruitcake from one year to the next, and each year he'd take out his collection and savor a small slice of each one. The fruitcakes had been baked in different years, and he would reminisce about the particular year that one had been created, and the events that had happened, then would carefully fold each one back into its wrapper and store them for the next year.

It was beautifully written, and I found the article fascinating, but I have always wondered... is this for real? Can you keep and age fruitcake the way you would a wine? (And please assume for this question, that you actually like fruitcake and would consider doing such a thing...) I know that, traditionally, a groom's fruitcake is eaten on the first wedding anniversary, but I'm thinking in terms of years. If a fruitcake is kept chilled and moist enough to not dry out, would it be safe to eat after several years?

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Fruitcakes can definitely be kept for several years.

There is some info here.

I personally have some mini fruitcakes and a "loaf" fruitcake that I originally made in (pause to pull the tin out and look at the date)

Well, that will have to wait until later, I can't reach the shelf. I will get someone to get it down for me in a little while.

I was born in March 1939 and I remember the Christmas after the end of WWII, that a fruitcake that had been sent from England the year I was born, was brought out, sliced and served at teatime on Christmas Eve 1945.

I remember that it looked like stained glass when it was cut into very thin slices. I can't remember how it tasted but I recall the appearance because my grandmother had crystal dessert plates with a Christmas design engraved on the underside. The light coming through the plate illuminated the fruit in the slice of cake.

The mini fruitcakes were made in 2001. The "loaf" fruitcake was made in 2000.

I didn't use loaf pans. I used to make this type of fruitcake in a large rectangular deep cake pan, an odd-sized one that was my grandmother's, made of heavy steel and was one of the pans included with the Estate ranges my grandfather bought in 1949.

Before baking parchment was readily available, I would line the pan with waxed paper so the fruitcake would release easily. I would then cut it into rectangles or squares to fit cake tins.

When I have a bit more time I will unwrap it and take a photo.

This is a "crossover" post - regarding fruitcakes that are so dense that the liquid doesn't soak into the cake - wrap the cake in a very damp cloth, mositened with the liquor you use.

Vacuum seal the cake and leave it for a couple of days, repeat weekly for 3-4 weeks, using a fresh back each time to be sure of a good seal.

This works much like the "instant marinade" containers, drawing the liquid into the cake.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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This is a "crossover" post - regarding fruitcakes that are so dense that the liquid doesn't soak into the cake - wrap the cake in a very damp cloth, mositened with the liquor you use. 

Vacuum seal the cake and leave it for a couple of days, repeat weekly for 3-4 weeks, using a fresh back each time to be sure of a good seal.

This works much like the "instant marinade"  containers,  drawing the liquid into the cake.

ooh, hadn't thought of this one.

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      4 slices of orange
      fruit

      Blend all the ingredients of the fruit mousse. Put it into some glasses and leave in the fridge. Put the desiccated coconut, sugar and butter into a pan. Fry constantly, stirring on a low heat until the butter is melted. Leave to cool down a bit. Put 2-3 tablespoons of it on top of the desserts. Decorate with a slice of orange, fruit and some peppermint leaves before serving.

      Enjoy your meal!
       
       

    • By Kasia
      Smile of the summer – apricot-peach shortcake
       
      Fortunately, the summer is not only about the weather. There is also fresh, sweet-smelling fruit. Today I would like to share with you the recipe for an easy to make weekend cake. It is excellent for afternoon tea or coffee. A little work and a little baking and after that you may serve and eat, and serve and eat again and again ... I remind you that it should be a weekend cake, so if you eat everything at once, you will need to bake another one 

      Ingredients:
      dough
      200g of flour
      150g of butter
      75g of sugar
      1 egg
      1 egg yolk
      1 teaspoon of baking powder

      fruit:
      1kg of apricot
      4 peaches
      2 packets of powdered vanilla blancmange
      4 tablespoons of brown sugar

      Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter onto a baking board. Chop it all up with a knife. When you have the consistency of crumble topping, add the egg and egg yolk and then knead the dough quickly. Divide the dough into two parts – 2/3 and 1/3. Cover the pieces of dough with plastic wrap and put them into the freezer.
      Wash the apricots, remove the stones and cube them. Put them into a saucepan, add a bit of water and boil until they are soft. Stir the blancmange powder in 150ml of cold water and add it to the apricots. Boil for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Turn off the heat. Wash the peaches, remove the stones and cube them. Add them to the apricots and mix them in.
      Heat the oven up to 180C.
      Smooth a 23-cm cake tin with some butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Grate the bigger part of the dough onto the cake tin, even it out and bake for 15-17 minutes. Take out the cake, but don't turn off the oven. Put the fruit mixture onto it and grate the rest of the dough onto the top. Bake for 50 minutes. Sprinkle with caster sugar before serving.

      Enjoy your meal!
       
       

    • By pastrygirl
      I'm watching The Sweet Makers on BBC - four British pastry chefs & confectioners recreate Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian sweets with petiod ingredients and equipment. A little British Baking Show, a little Downtown Abbey. 
       
      Check it it out for a slice of pastry history. 
       
      BBC viewer only available to the U.K., but on this side of the pond where there's a will, there's a way. 
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