Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Suvir Saran

The Fruitcake Topic

Recommended Posts

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.


"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

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 . . .


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


"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

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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:


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


"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

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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 ...


Lynn

Oregon, originally Montreal

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "holy shit! ....what a ride!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.


Lynn

Oregon, originally Montreal

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "holy shit! ....what a ride!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
]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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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)
  • Like 1

"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

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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 ... :-)


Lynn

Oregon, originally Montreal

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "holy shit! ....what a ride!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.


Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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)

"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

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By chefpeon
      So, strangely, as of late, I sort of seem to have my shit together, and I actually had enough forethought to bring along my digital camera to document the construction of my latest cake project.
      Since so many of you seem curious as to how one of these things comes together, I thought you all might enjoy the picture filled journey down the path of a sculpted cake.
       
      How it started:
       
      First a little history. I'm a semi-burned out pastry chef who transplanted herself from the "big city" (Seattle) scene to a tranquil and liberal, artistic, intellectual, granola chewing, Birkenstock wearing, marine and tourist trade Victorian Seaport......also known as Port Townsend, Washington. I love this place. I affectionately call it Tinytown. In Seattle I spent a lot of years doin' the PC thing in various bakeries and specialty shops, but mostly I was employed as a high-end cake artist. I loved the work I did (and do) as a cake artist over there, but the long hours and snotty brides took their toll, and I wanted to walk away from it for a while. After a couple of years living here in Port Townsend and establishing a life with my new husband and love of my life, I decided to get back into doing cakes just a little. I'm only doing the ones I want to do, and only the ones that make it worth my while. But sometimes I'm so inspired to do a cake, I do it for nothing just because I want to do it, and I love to see the look on people's faces when I present it to them. Usually, that's all the payment I need. Such is the case with this cake. A side note: I do have a regular job baking for a cute progressive little deli (Provisions) and a cookie wholesale outfit. I love that job.....it fulfills my need to bake. Not only that, the people I work for are so freaking nice as to let me use the kitchen for my cakes also. I only have to pay them 10% of whatever I'm charging for the cake.....but anything under $100 is free. I also get to order all my ingredients wholesale on their account. Sweet, huh?
       
      Here's a picture of Provisions, Port Townsend's source for gourmet European ingredients, and the best take-out on the Peninsula!

      Since this town is small enough that everyone seems to know everyone else, I heard that one of my boss' wife's friends was getting a baby shower on May 1st. Of course, the boss' wife, who is a chef in her own right and runs the deli, offered to do the food. So I chimed in and said I'd do the cake. The person giving the shower, Lily, showed me the invitation and told me that she was going to do a May Day theme with lots of flowers. When I offered to to the cake, I was just going to do a simple round cake....but when Lily told me the details I had this epiphany. Into my head immediately popped one of those Anne Geddes babies that is coming out of the flowerpot. I immediately started forming this vision of my cake, and this is what I sketched:

      Now, I knew I would be putting in a lot of work for no monetary gain, but what the hell.....it would be fun. Once I get a bee in my bonnet, there's no stopping me.
       
      A week before the day of the shower, I started all my prep work.....which included:
      making the flowers, out of gumpaste making modeling chocolate and kneading in all the colors I would need making the umbrella out of gumpaste baking the cakes making the buttercream making simple syrup kneading all the fondant colors I'd need buying chocolate cookies and liquor cutting and covering my bottom board dying bamboo skewers green with vinegar and food color I did a little each day. I had to fit that in between my regular job and family-care duties.
       
      On Saturday, the day before the shower, and one of the days I'm off from my regular job, I went into the kitchen to build the cake. I'd had a nutritious breakfast of Oreo Mint Creams thanks to my stepson who'd been eating them the night before as he was watching TV. Gulped down a little coffee, and packed up all my equipment in the back of my truck. Only 4 minutes to the kitchen......man, I don't miss commuting!!!
       
      The night before, I had filled and stacked the cakes, so they would be ready for me to carve, first thing. The top cake is a lemon cake with raspberry buttercream, and the bottom cake is chocolate cake with mocha-toffee buttercream. All the cake layers are soaked with simple syrup; the lemon was soaked with lemon syrup and the chocolate, soaked with Kahlua syrup. I prefer to use buttercream as a filling in sculpted cakes....it sets up firm and makes carving a cinch. Mousses and jams and curds don't set up enough and are also very slippy-slidy. When you are carving out a cake, you don't want your layers sliding around on you. Here is my top cake.....I baked off two 8 inch rounds and 1 10 inch round. Cut them all in half and filled. Ready to carve!

      Here is the rough cut:

      I just used my long serrated knife to get a general pot shape. Now for the fine tuning:

      Lookin' like a flowerpot! Mmmmmm......look at all those cake scraps on the table. Yep, a few went in my mouth (quality control you know) but the rest went into the garbage......Next it's time to put a layer of buttercream on there, for extra smoothy goodness:

      I snapped the pic with one hand as I was holding the pastry bag in the other. Not easy. I like to use the giant pastry bag with the giant tip for applying icing....makes for less work later.

      Ok, here's a pic for folks that wanted to see that "paint masker thingy" in action. Tried to snap a pic myself, but just couldn't muster up the co-ordination. Luckily, Amber, the front deli counter girl, took a pic for me. I hadn't meant for her to include ME in the pic (Gawd!) but I wanted more of a close up of Mr. Smoothing Tool. Oh well, you take what you can get. See that I have my sketch on the reach-in behind me....along with all my other wacky magnets. Hey, I like to decorate my workspace.....Notice I hold the "pint masker thingy" by the bottom when I am smoothing the sides. If I don't, and hold it by the handle, it tends to kind of bend. I hold it by the handle when I go across the top. See how nice and smooth?:

      Now it's really starting to look like a flowerpot. But wait! It's upside down! Why is that, you ask? Because it's easier to carve and ice that way, and most importantly, much easier to apply the fondant. Into the walk-in it goes, to firm up. Now for the second pot:

      This is going to be the bottom flowerpot. It's going to be larger, and a slightly different shape than the top flowerpot. I baked off 2 10 inch rounds and 1 8 inch round for this one. I only ended up using half the 8 inch round, as you can see. I have the saran wrap underneath the cake and on top of the board, so it will be easier to flip over later. Here it is all carved out.....mmm....more cake scraps.....into the garbage they go.....

      Below, here it is, with a layer of buttercream. I didn't use the "paint masker thingy" on this one because of the curvature of the cake. I just piped the icing on and then smoothed it out with my offset spatula as best I could. After I refrigerate it, I will do the final smoothing.

      So now I'm waiting for my pots to set up. Time to do some other stuff, like:

      "Cuiz" my chocolate cookies to make the "dirt" for my pots. And......

      start dusting my flowers and leaves with luster dust to add a little depth and realism to them. For this project I just made "whimsical flowers" in that they really aren't any particular flower....they're just cartoonish and colorful. Well, the roses are, well, roses.....gotta have a few roses. In the background there, you can see sort of how I did the gumpaste umbrella. I happened to have a dessert cup at home that was well suited for it. I filled out the top with gumpaste and added "ribs" with gumpaste, then put some saran on the top of that and put a gumpaste disk on it. I then cut out the rounded parts between the ribs.....and voila....umbrella! This was the first thing I made because I wanted it to have the maximum amount of drying time. Now if I were really smart, I would have made not one, but two or even three umbrellas because stuff always breaks. Always. No matter how careful you are. Especially in a commercial kitchen.....not only do you have to worry about yourself but everyone else too. I make more flowers than I need because I always manage to break quite a few. But, as it was, I only made one umbrella since I was so cocky and sure of myself. Turns out I was lucky......this time! Ok, time to roll out some terra cotta colored fondant!

      Dust the table liberally with cornstarch and roll away. I've done this so much I can just eyeball how much fondant I'll need to cover a certain sized cake. When rolling out fondant, waste no time from the time you're done rolling til you get it on the cake, because it starts drying out right away. Drying out means yukky little cracks, and me no likey little cracks! So I race to walk-in, retrieve cake, and cover it quickly.

      Then I take my trusty little pizza wheel and cut the excess away. This excess will get kneaded back into the remainder of my fondant so that I'll have enough to cover the other pot. So I take the rounded pot out of the walk-in, and, after washing my hands like a surgeon, I use the warmth of my hands to smooth the buttercream out so I have a perfect surface on which to cover with fondant. I tried using latex gloves for doing smoothing, but they are too much of a barrier to my body warmth. I need that warmth to lightly soften the buttercream for the proper smoothing. And here we have a nice smooth surface for the fondant:

      Into the reach-in it goes to set up while I roll out my fondant.......and here it is covered, with the excess trimmed away. Notice that I trimmed off my plastic wrap quite a bit before I covered it. Otherwise I would have gotten into a wrestling match with it and the fondant.

      So back into the walk-in they go to stay firm while I take me a little breaky:

      This is the view out the back door of the kitchen. We look over the Kai-Tai Lagoon and the Olympic Mountains. Unfortunately you can't see the Olympics in this picture because it's cloudy. But man, on a clear day......it's outstanding. Off to the right, beyond the trellis thing, is a large garden full of culinary things....a la Chez Panisse. We've got rosemary, bay, basil, fennel, oregano, chervil,onions, squashes (in the fall), thyme, decorative flowers, arugula, and more. Whenever we need herbs....just go out back. We get most of our produce from local farmers who come to our back door. One of the things I LOVE about Tinytown. It really beats the in-city large mass produce vendors. As I look out the back door, I sip on a latte that I made myself from our aging and undependable espresso machine. Luckily, today, I managed to pull a pretty good shot. Ok, break time over! Back to work! My next step is to turn my pots over. I will turn the larger pot over first. I slip my offset spatula underneath the saran wrap and lift the cake off, and set it aside on the table. An important thing to note: If I'd used a mousse, curd, or jam filling, I wouldn't have been able to do this so easily. With a refrigerated buttercream filling, the cake doesn't flex at all as I lift it. I managed to nick a little of my polyfoil covering with my spat when I went to lift the cake. Nuts. Oh well, I'll cover that with a flower later. I melt some white chocolate and smear some in the center of my board. I need to anchor the bottom pot so it doesn't slip around.

      I flip the bottom pot over, place it on top of my melted white chocolate, make sure it's centered, and peel the saran wrap off.

      My next step is to mark where I'm going to place my top pot, then insert straws within that area to support the weight of it. I decided to place the top pot slightly off center, and traced a circle with my paring knife to mark it. For most cake supports I use straws. They're easy to cut to fit, cheap, and they work. The only time I use wooden dowels is when there is an UNGODLY amount of weight or a weird center of gravity involved. I used to use regular heavy duty bar straws, until I discovered.......bubble tea straws! They are super heavy duty and very large.....they have to be for people to suck up that lovely bubble tea. I don't really think that fad is going to catch on here much in the states, but as long as I can get the straws I'm happy. I get them from an asian novelty wholesaler in Seattle. I think it's Viet-Wah, but can't remember for sure.

      Anyway, I insert the straw, mark it with my thumb where it's flush with the top of the cake, then pull the straw out and cut it. I use that straw as a measure to cut the rest of my straws. In this case I will use 5. One in the center and four around.

      Now I'm all ready to place the top pot on......oh, wait, except for a swirl of buttercream on top of the straws to anchor it a bit. Next, I use my melted white chocolate to adhere an appropriately sized round cardboard on the bottom of my top pot.

      Once that's set, I flip over the top pot, and place it on my bottom pot.

      Voila! Now, I really have to make sure that the top pot won't slide around, so I stick a few bamboo skewers down through the middle and through the cardboard til it hits the bottom board. I use the side of my needlenose pliers to pound the skewer down through. Now starts my very favorite part of this whole thing.....details! I figured that using my silicone lace impression molds will make great detailing on the pots. Here's the one I'm going to use to detail the bottom pot:

      I dust the inside of the mold with cornstarch........then roll out a quick piece of fondant, and roughly press it in:

      Then I place the top piece of the silicone impression on top, and roll it like crazy with a rolling pin. With the top part of the impression still in place, I pull off as much of the excess as I can.

      Then I remove the top piece, and pull all the ragged edges back in......

      Then I brush a little water on the back of the piece, and adhere it to the pot. I keep making them until the pattern has gone all the way 'round.

      I use a different lace mold to make a pattern on the top pot. Now it's time to do the rims. When I did the lace impressions around the pots, I used fondant, because I needed the stretchability of it to conform easily to the shape of the pot. A little stretchiness in this case is good. But when it's time to do the rims, I don't want ANY stretching going on whatsoever.....I want uniformly thick and perfectly straight strips, so for this I'm going to use modeling chocolate, which of course has been colored the same color as the fondant. See the neato embossing on my strip? I found that little embossing wheel at Seattle Pottery Supply, believe it or not, and it was cheap too. The embossers are interchangeable and it came with about 10 different patterns! I rolled out my strip, then embossed the pattern twice (one next to the other) then used my pizza wheel to cut nice straight even edges. I made two top strips and two bottom strips....the bottom strips are just plain.

      And here are the pots with all their details.....

      These guys are going into the walk-in for a while while I work on the other details. Gotta make the baby! First I start with a styrofoam core. The reason for this is for stability and less weight. There was a time in my career when I thought I shouldn't use ANYTHING that wasn't edible, but talk about making life hard. I've made things out of solid modeling chocolate, but they were very heavy and hard to support. Then over the years, I realized that people really don't eat the decorations anyway (except for a few overzealous kids), so I decided to reduce my chocolate expenses and weight by using styrofoam to bulk things out more and more. I pat out a disk of flesh colored modeling chocolate, and place my styrofoam ball in the middle.

      Then I bring the edges up around the ball and squeeze the chocolate together so that no seams show. I stick a couple of skewers in it so that I can hold it in one hand and model it with the other. Then I manipulate it in my surgeon-scrubbed hands to model the face, add a little nose, eyes, mouth, ears, hair and of course, a dimple. The baby head needs to go somewhere while I work on other stuff.....oh, here's a good place.....right in the edge of my equipment box.

      I've been so good about taking pictures at nearly every step! But here's where I fail you.......when I get "in the zone"......meaning that I'm so intent on my little details....I sort of forget about the camera! Here's what I did in between this picture and the next two:
      *made the baby's shoulders and neck and arms out of modeling chocolate
      *sprinkled my cookie dirt inside the pots
      *dusted the centers of my flowers with luster and color, made the calyx's (sp?) and mounted *them on my green skewers
      *rolled modeling chocolate onto a skewer to form the umbrella stem
      *made the bottom banner and wrote on it
      *made the baby's flower bonnet
      I modeled the baby's neck and shoulders, then stuck that right on the top pot. Then I cut the skewers that are coming out of his head to the right length and pushed it down through the neck and shoulders.

      I placed the arms and formed the hands. I stuck my umbrella stem through the arm and down into the cake so there would be adequate support......but darn, I wasn't watching carefully, and the skewer came out of the side of the pot because my angle was a bit off. Oh well, I'll cover that up with a leaf. At least you can see where the umbrella stem is on the skewer. On top of the umbrella stem is a little half dome of modeling chocolate, to support the gumpaste umbrella. I dab a bit of melted white chocolate on that, and stick the umbrella on top. Now all I have to do is place my flowers, mount the banner, and put his little bonnet on.

      And here we have the finished product. It's sort of hard to read the banner....it says, "May Showers Bring Adorable Flowers". One thing I always seem to to do.....I'll shoot the picture of my finished cake and I'm always tired.....so I'm too lazy to find a good backdrop. Then I curse myself later when there's that yukky kitcheny background. God, in one picture I took, my cake had a dirty mop bucket behind it! All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop......I can always "fix" it later.
      It took me 8 hours to put this together and that's not counting all the prep I did the whole week prior. I don't think a whole lot of people realize the time that goes into this stuff.....and it's also why you don't see it very often.
      Anyway, the girl that's getting the baby shower has NO IDEA this is coming. Surprising her is going to be the best part!
      Fast forward to the next day. My boss's wife and I are bringing the box inside the house, then removing the cake from the box. Kids are dancing around us....."is that a CAKE? Is that a CAKE?" People gather round, and the girl who's getting the shower sees it and starts crying. She gives me a big hug and says "I don't know how to thank you!" I told her she just did.
      The shower went on, presents were opened, food was eaten, champagne was sipped.......and then.....it was time......the part that the kids almost couldn't wait for.....time to eat cake! Which of course, means, time to cut cake. And guess who gets to do it. Yep. Me. I don't have to cut my own cakes very often, and that's a good thing. Usually I'm nowhere in the vicinity when my cakes are cut and consumed.....I have only the memory of a photograph and my labor. This time I also do the deconstructing.....and I gotta say it was bittersweet. Especially since knowing it took me 8 hours to build it and only 15 minutes to take it apart. May I say.......wah? Yes. Wah. Luckily I'd had a couple glasses of Mumm's so my "pain" was numbed a bit.......
      Hope you all have enjoyed this bit of cake sculpting. Now back to our regular programming.......
    • By Nn, M.D.
      I'm very excited to share with you all a recipe that I developed for a double crust apple pie.  I had been inspired a few weeks ago to come up with a series of 3-ingredient recipes that would focus on technique and flavor but still be simple enough for the unseasoned chef.  I decided to make an apple pie as a challenge to myself--never having made one before--and as a way to show those who might find pastry intimidating how easy and adaptable it can be.
       
      Basic Shortcrust Pastry
      Ingredients:
      - 300g flour
      - 227g salted butter, cold
      - 2 lemons, zested with juice reserved
       
      1. Cut butter into small chunks.  Beat butter, zest of the 2 lemons, and flour together with an electric mixer OR combine with pastry blender OR rub together with fingers OR blitz in a food processor until it resembles sand.
      2. Add just enough water to bring the mix together into a dough (about 20g for me).  You'll know your pastry is ready when you can press it together and it stays in one piece.
      3. Divide dough in two and wrap tightly with plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
      4. When ready to use, roll out each portion to 13 inches in diameter. (I do this between two sheets of parchment paper.  Don't worry too much if the parchment sticks to the pastry. I periodically placed mine in the freezer to help keep everything cold, and the butter will separate from the parchment when frozen.)
      5. Take 1 portion of rolled dough and place it in a 9-inch tart tin with a removable bottom.  Gently press into the sides to ensure even coverage.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Freeze the other portion of dough in-between the parchment pieces.
       
      Apple Filling (and Assembly)
      - 1 kg apples (I used about 7 apples for this recipe.)
      - 220g dark brown sugar, divided
      - 1 egg, separated
       
      Making the apple butter: 
      1. Cut and core 500g of your apples, but do not peel.  Add cut apples, juice of the one lemon, about 100g or so of water, and 170g of sugar to a large saucepan.
      2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let the apples cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
      3. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
      4. Return puree to saucepan and simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for an hour.  Color should deepen and the mixture should thicken slightly, but do not allow it to scorch.
      5. Remove from heat and refrigerate until cool.
       
      Apple filling:
      1. Peel, quarter, and core the remaining 500g of apples. Slice on a mandolin to about 1/8th inch thickness. Place sliced apples in a large bowl of cold water while slicing remaining apples.
      2. Once apples are sliced, drain water and add the juice from the remaining lemon, as well as the remaining 50g of sugar, over the apples. Stir to coat.
       
         
       
      Assembly:
      1. Remove pie base from the freezer.  Dock with a fork and brush on egg white.  Place back in the freezer and allow to set for for about 5-10 minutes.
      2. Pour the entire recipe of apple butter into the pie base and even out with an offset spatula.
      3. Arrange apple slices over the apple butter.
      4. Remove remaining pie dough from the freezer and cut designs in while still cold. Transfer to the surface of the pie and seal overhanging edges.  Trim excess dough.
      5. Brush top pastry with egg yolk (beaten with any remaining egg white) and bake in a 365˚F oven for 60-70 minutes.  Crust should be shiny and golden brown.
      6. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
       
      Some notes:
      The reason for using salted butter is I think the flavor incorporates a little better into the mix than if I were to use unsalted butter and added salt.  That being said, you could do that instead, though your recipe would then have 7 ingredients The addition of apple butter here takes the place of the normal apple pie filling, which is usually thickened with cornstarch and is typically quite sweet.  By using the apple butter, I push the flavor of apple forward beyond what you would find in a typically apple pie.  Also, the apple butter acts as a glue of sorts so that my slices are always clean, so no need to resort to adding thickeners or extra sweeteners. I'm always looking for a way around blind baking, and using an egg white seal has worked out very well for me. The egg white creates a water-tight layer between the crust and the filling, so no matter how wet my filling is, the crust will always bake crispy and won't get soggy for as long as the pie is around. Feel free to change this up as you see fit.  Obviously you can spices to this (I recommend cinnamon, clove, and cardamom) but the beauty of this pie is that it's really not necessary.  Although at first blush it may seem one-noted, the harmony between the flaky, almost savory crust and the bright and refreshing filling is one that doesn't need any help, in my honest opinion.  

       
      So there you have it! My 6-ingredient apple pie, sure to become a go-to for me, and hopefully for you as well!
       
    • By ResearchBunny
      Posted 6 hours ago Dear EGulleters,
      ResearchBunny here. I've just found you today. I've been lolling in bed with a bad cold, lost voice, wads of tissues, pillows, bedding around me. I spent all of yesterday binge-watching Season 2 of Zumbo's Just Desserts on Netflix from beginning to grand finale. I have been a hardcore devotee of Rose Levy Beranbaum since the beginning of my baking passion -- after learning that she wrote her master's thesis comparing the textural differences in cake crumb when using bleached versus unbleached flour. I sit up and pay attention to that level of serious and precision! While Beranbaum did study for a short while at a French pastry school, she hasn't taken on the challenge of writing recipes for entremets style cakes. That is, multi-layer desserts with cake, mousse, gelatin, nougatine or dacquoise layers all embedded in one form embellished with ice cream, granita, chocolate, coulis. After watching hours of the Zumbo contest, I became curious about the experience of designing these cakes. Some of the offered desserts struck me as far too busy, others were delightful combinations. I was surprised that a few contestants were eliminated when their offerings were considered too simple or, too sophisticated. So I'd like to hear from you about your suggestions for learning more about how to make entremets. And also, what you think about the show. And/or Zumbo.
      Many thanks.
      RB
      ps. The show sparked a fantasy entremet for my cold. Consider a fluffy matzo ball exterior, with interior layers of carrot, celery, a chicken mince, and a gelatin of dilled chicken broth at its heart!
    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
    • By pastrygirl
      Anyone have a favorite recipe for chocolate cake using semisweet chocolate?  My usual chocolate cake recipe uses cocoa, but I have some samples of chocolate I want to use up for a workplace party.  Yes, I could make brownies or ganache frosting, or chocolate mousse or chocolate chunk cookies, just feeling like cake this weekend ...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...