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The Fruitcake Topic


Suvir Saran
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In the past I've used the fruitcake recipe from the Northern Pacific passenger train line and their signature train the North Coast Limited that ran between Chicago and Seattle.  Hard to believe today, but during the heyday of the Northern Pacific they served fruitcake and it was such a big hit they sold it onboard.  The Northern Pacific ultimately merged with the Great Northern and today is BNSF.  The Northern Pacific was also famous for their "Great Big Baked Potato."  I'll find the recipe and post again, but you can also find it upthread.  It's a dark fruitcake and I add lots of booze.  My Great Aunt Bertie made a similar fruitcake and her best ones were in the range of 10 years old!

Great Big Baked Potato.jpg

northern_pacific_vista dome_north_coast_limited.jpg

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Whereas I am a big fan of baroque fruitcakes, buying and fixing up an old house has necessitated a streamlined approach.

This is the cake I made last year and will likely make again this year, although I'm also into fruitcake cookies.

 

Craig Claiborne's Black Walnut and Ginger Fruitcake

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

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  • 9 months later...

Ok, I know, is August really the time to talk fruitcake?  For those of us who follow this topic, I think it is.  I've gotten behind in recent years and don't have a fruitcake waiting in the wings for this holiday season.  I prefer to have one about five years old ready to cut into for the holidays.  But I am going back to a traditional recipe for the upcoming holiday season and will get going on it in the next couple of weeks so it has a little time to soak in the brandy cloth before Christmas.  I'll be doing it with venison this year based on an old recipe from Oregon, similar to what my Grandmother would have made.  Anyone out there already planning for getting going on a fruitcake?

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I wished TJs would stock their chopped fruit that they stopped a number of years ago. Tried to purchase dried fruit a couple of years ago and found when all was said and done, the cake prohibitively expensive.

Edited by oli (log)
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@David Ross 

 

now is the time , Sept 1st.

 

a long time ago , 1999  I did a lot of reading

 

and made fruit cakes in aluinun disposable pans , which I used over and over.

 

I looked at a lot of Rx's n and pick one that gave me ' good crumb' on the final FC ;

 

brown sugar and butter flavor.  the crumb was medium brown , not black .

 

Tj's at that time had red currants and lots of other dried fruit that I used.

 

I lined the pans w parchment paper , and used a lot of dried fruit .  a lot.

 

chopped the larger pieces , including dried apricots and cherries etc.

 

I remember baking the FC at what I thought was a low temp '  300 F ?

 

Im not a  baker , it seemed low to me at the time.  but for 3 hours or so.

 

bringing them out of the oven , I let them cool a bit , then lifted w that parchment paper 

 

out of the aluminum pans , and placed is a plastic bag , then jabbed them a bit w a knife on the top

 

and added I  think as much as a 1/2 cup of good rum , and other spirits for those who like that

 

as they were going to be gifts.  they cooled some more , and I used the plastic bag to seal them 

 

and put them in a cool place for 4 months.   I did sneak a taste or two.

 

no fluorescent fruit , green , red , purple.  just good stuff.

 

i made several mini- loafs the same way and gave them as gifts to

 

libraries etc , w a Hard Sauce Rx.  

 

the best fruitcake Ive ever tasted as the fruit was only what i enjoyed myself.

 

no nuts !

 

I wish I knew what the batter Rx was now , but that was many operating systems ago

 

and lost.  I did modify it , but not too much :  Brown sugar , butter  and good crumb.

 

the fruit absorbed the rum / whiskey etc

 

out standing it was .

 

*** sigh ***

 

the dried fruit was affordable at the time , as it all came from Tj's.

 

1999  - 2000   that was the season.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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It's so difficult to find really good fruit for the cakes.  Takes some online searching as the grocery store stuff won't show up until November and most of it isn't all that good. Many of you have heard me tell the story before, my Great Aunt Bertie's fruitcakes were the best.  I seem to remember about 10 years of aging was the best, probably because by then it had been soaked in plenty of rum and whiskey.  She kept them wrapped down in the cellar of their home in Idaho where they would keep nice and cool in the summer and cold in the winter.  I've got so many family fruitcake recipes written in cursive with a fountain pen, all on small recipe cards, that I can't tell which go to which Great Aunt or Grandma!

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1 hour ago, David Ross said:

It's so difficult to find really good fruit for the cakes.  

 

I am sure your memories are of excellent fruitcake. I only replicated a memory of the Panamanian's  grandmother's. It was generic fruit stuff in the tub but soaked for a couple months in booze. Kept in a cool dark place - well as cool as Los Angeles gets. A very strong taste memory of a dark fruitcake - moist and thinly sliced.  Probably posted this before but just in case: So ours was kinda backwards- the fruit boozy. We ate it over a month or more as slowly as we could allow ourselves. I'd pack up a couple slices before I went to school. With strong coffee kept me all day through some of those intense Socratic method law school classes. The cake batter reference is hard to read - from Culinary Arts Institute cookbook p. 659 - Wedding Cake.

frcake 1.JPG

fcake2.JPG

Edited by heidih (log)
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17 hours ago, David Ross said:

Ok, I know, is August really the time to talk fruitcake?  For those of us who follow this topic, I think it is.  I've gotten behind in recent years and don't have a fruitcake waiting in the wings for this holiday season.  I prefer to have one about five years old ready to cut into for the holidays.  But I am going back to a traditional recipe for the upcoming holiday season and will get going on it in the next couple of weeks so it has a little time to soak in the brandy cloth before Christmas.  I'll be doing it with venison this year based on an old recipe from Oregon, similar to what my Grandmother would have made.  Anyone out there already planning for getting going on a fruitcake?

The fruitcake of my life was gifted from a new bride from Georgia. It was a white fruitcake, young and fresh.   Not at all boozy.   Just a ton of excellent fruit and mega ton of pecans.   I begged for and was given the family recipe but confess that my efforts never challenged hers.   
586398813_ScreenShot2020-08-24at7_11_09AM.thumb.png.fbc2ca2437a84bd0cce024679564b0ab.png

1013302066_ScreenShot2020-08-24at7_11_33AM.thumb.png.3f5fed63caa5615e0376282e201a69d6.png

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)
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eGullet member #80.

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15 hours ago, heidih said:

 

I am sure your memories are of excellent fruitcake. I only replicated a memory of the Panamanian's  grandmother's. It was generic fruit stuff in the tub but soaked for a couple months in booze. Kept in a cool dark place - well as cool as Los Angeles gets. A very strong taste memory of a dark fruitcake - moist and thinly sliced.  Probably posted this before but just in case: So ours was kinda backwards- the fruit boozy. We ate it over a month or more as slowly as we could allow ourselves. I'd pack up a couple slices before I went to school. With strong coffee kept me all day through some of those intense Socratic method law school classes. The cake batter reference is hard to read - from Culinary Arts Institute cookbook p. 659 - Wedding Cake.

frcake 1.JPG

fcake2.JPG

 

Thanks i've always covered my fruitcakes in cheesecloth and poured booze over them every few months.  I'm going to try this method of soaking the fruits in booze, sounds like it would give really good results.

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45 minutes ago, David Ross said:

Thanks i've always covered my fruitcakes in cheesecloth and poured booze over them every few months.  I'm going to try this method of soaking the fruits in booze, sounds like it would give really good results.

 

I think the mincemeat also made it. Also saving the marinating liquor and using it as needed for moisture/flavor. It was a revelation to me compared to those visually attractive but boring fruitcakes that appear  in grocery stores round  the holidays. That was all I'd ever known. Like the trays of dry figs that were next to them.

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1 hour ago, AlaMoi said:

it's time to start gathering the 'stuff' - I make ours in Oct so they're available for Thanksgiving.  they rarely last past March.

this is a fruit cake that even fruit cake haters love....

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3783

 

What do you estimate it costs to do that fruit cake?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I tried to interview a local Rabbi at the Chabad center around this time of year being clueless until he said "not  good time, busy, High Holy Days".  As we come up to that time of year I thought Honey Cake might fit here. Anyone make it?  https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/09/13/439573786/the-jewish-fruitcake-honey-cake-is-a-sweet-and-stodgy-tradition

Marcy Goldman is the author of several baking books, including one on Jewish baking, and she's heard all the complaints: Honey cake is too dense, too dry and too heavily spiced.

"Honey cake is considered the fruitcake of the kosher kitchen," she jokes. "The same resistance people may have to fruitcake, a lot of people have about honey cake."

Edited by heidih (log)
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6 hours ago, heidih said:

I tried to interview a local Rabbi at the Chabad center around this time of year being clueless until he said "not  good time, busy, High Holy Days".  As we come up to that time of year I thought Honey Cake might fit here. Anyone make it?

 

It's not Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) without honey cake.  And I do make a version with fresh apples, but have never thought to add any dried fruits, so I'm not sure if this would be our version of fruit cake.  Though the best recipes include alcohol -- usually rye whiskey (Crown Royal, naturally as it is made here) and in my family we fight over the top of the cake, where the booze seems to form a softer, gooey-er layer. 

 

Confession: I've never tried fruit cake. 

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4 hours ago, oli said:

Isn't that the cake that is like 10 layers?

You are thinking of Russian honey cake. The Jewish honey cake resembles a brick, in more ways than one.

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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Just now, BeeZee said:

You are thinking of Russian honey cake. The Jewish honey cake resembles a brick, in more ways than one.

 

Isn't that the general comic strip identifier for fruit cake? But do you have a better version as some of us have done with FC above? 

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12 hours ago, BeeZee said:

You are thinking of Russian honey cake. The Jewish honey cake resembles a brick, in more ways than one.

Though not a light cake, it shouldn't be a brick -- hopefully! A moist, dense cake flavoured with honey and spices and a hint of. . whatever booze you have in the house. ;)  Everybody in my family loves it. 

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2 hours ago, Pam R said:

Though not a light cake, it shouldn't be a brick -- hopefully! A moist, dense cake flavoured with honey and spices and a hint of. . whatever booze you have in the house. ;)  Everybody in my family loves it. 

Maybe that's the problem, nobody used enough booze:D. I like gingerbread, rarely have had a honey cake where I wanted to eat more than one slice to be polite.

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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On 8/23/2020 at 2:17 PM, David Ross said:

It's so difficult to find really good fruit for the cakes.  Takes some online searching as the grocery store stuff won't show up until November and most of it isn't all that good. Many of you have heard me tell the story before, my Great Aunt Bertie's fruitcakes were the best.  I seem to remember about 10 years of aging was the best, probably because by then it had been soaked in plenty of rum and whiskey.  She kept them wrapped down in the cellar of their home in Idaho where they would keep nice and cool in the summer and cold in the winter.  I've got so many family fruitcake recipes written in cursive with a fountain pen, all on small recipe cards, that I can't tell which go to which Great Aunt or Grandma!

 

I ordered the mixed fruit from nuts.com and it is superior to the regular commercial stuff.  I used to buy the Agrimonte fruit mix brand but that vendor went out of business - that sold it in small amounts and I can't use a 30-pound tub.  It is the glazed fruit made in Italy.  

For many years beginning in the '70s, I made my own candied peel and candied citron in large batches, as well as candied ginger. But age and infirmity and really no one for whom to bake - I've outlived so many - makes it impossible now.  Just limited baking for myself.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 1 month later...

What are your thoughts on eggs in fruitcake?  Does it change the texture of fruitcake without eggs in the batter?  And what about the density of the fruitcake?  I'm getting ready to make about 5 this season, one which I'll eat, the others will be aged.  I've got about 6 different recipes in my archives that I'm considering.

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eggs seem to be the main structure of a fruitcake - akin to flourless cakes - beaten eggs white + stuff.... not much flour used.

I would not make 6 of anything without a test run.....

IMG_1038.thumb.JPG.590c8a23e2825eb695904a3902b6e8b6.JPG

 

Edited by AlaMoi (log)
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