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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fruitcake. It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas.


two of the best Christmas presents I ever got, my Nutcracker and my Mom's recipes


I love my Mom's fruitcake. Rich and dark and loaded with exotic spices. The smell of it takes me right back to being a kid. Two years ago; after many years of prodding, my Mom gave me a little tin box with all her Christmas recipes. It is one of my prized possessions. In that box is everything I loved as a kid about the season. Sugar cookies in tree and star shapes, her date pinwheels, her rich and decadent chocolate lebkuechen. If you would ask me today what I would want Santa to bring me, it would always be a loaf of my Mom's fruitcake and a Lionel train around my tree and all would be right with the world. That and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite as the back-round music. My Mom; bless her, doesn't make fruitcake anymore so it falls to me.
 Did I mention it's LOADED with booze?

My Mom's Spicy Dark Fruitcake. I think this originally came out of one of her old Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens books but I don't really know

Mise-en-place

3 1/2 cups mixed, diced fruits and peels, usually labeled as "fruitcake mix"
1 1/4 cup dark raisins
1 1/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
(all spices ground)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup shortening
2 cups dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, let these come to room temperature, it's easier that way, trust me
3/4 cup grape juice
Dark Rum. Myers's is a good brand.
cheesecloth
wax-paper
aluminum foil
loaf pans, lined with wax paper
three bowls...seriously
one large pan full of hot water but not until you put them in the oven
Since we're baking we measure out everything first and then follow the steps, right? 

The night before, mix your fruit stuff, raisins and nuts, add about 1/4 cup of the Rum, cover and set aside. The longer you let it sit, the better.


Sift together the flour, spices, baking powder and salt, SIFT DARN YOU we need to incorporate air into the dry ingredients. The easiest way to do this is to measure and mix first then sift it over wax paper, you can then pick up the paper and dump it back into the bowl.


measure out first, then sift


and just dump back



In a separate bowl cream together the shortening and brown sugar, just use your man-muscles and beat the crap out of it

Now when we say cream what we're actually doing is distributing the fat all around each grain of sugar, this will ensure a consistent product. Add one egg at a time and beat until smooth.
one.at.a.time. I mean it



 Here's the science. The eggs are one of our leveners and so we need to break it down as much as possible to combine it with the fat and sugar. 

Add about 1/4 cup of the sifted dry ingredients to the fruits. Toss to combine. 

  
What that does is surround the fruit with the flour which grips the residual water in the eggs and sugar and keeps it from sinking to the bottom of our batter, isn't food science neat? 

Didn't I say that you'd need three bowls for this? You should have three right in front of you. 
one two three
Pre-heat your oven to 275F. By spoonful, add your dry stuff to your wet stuff. Hey remember that grape juice? Alternate with the dry, beating to combine each time. 


Dump it onto your fruit stuff and fold until completely combined. 







So you have your loaf pans covered with wax paper, right? Fill each pan with the batter. Slam them onto the counter to remove any air bubbles. Your oven should be pre-heated by now. Put a wide pan of very hot water on the bottom rack and place your loaf pans above. "Your fruitcake will have greater volume, moist texture and a shiny glaze." My Mom's own words. 

This has a really long baking time. 3 and 1/2 hours. Seriously, three and a half hours. Now I get why Mom doesn't make these anymore. Test by poking with a knife, when it comes out clean, they're done. place on a rack for 'bout an hour, remove from wax-paper carefully. 

Let them cool completely. DO NOT HANDLE THEM FOR ANY REASON UNTIL THEN. 

Wrap in cheesecloth and then sprinkle a generous amount of rum onto the loaves. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and again in foil. Let sit somewhere dark and cool for at least 2 weeks or so. 

    


 It only seems right that after making these for 40 plus years my Mom and Dad should get one from their son, namely me. Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. Thank you for the Nutcracker. Dad reading us "A Christmas Carol." The Castle-Blocks. Lights in the snow. Christmas trees with trains underneath. Midnight Mass. Roast Turkey with stuffing inside. Sunday Lasagna. Mom's Mince-Meat Pie. I really-really lucked out. God Bless us all, EVERYONE!! 


Cooking poor, eating rich
get your grub on
Ciao



From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!!

p.s. I'm the guy in the back in the purple tie-die shirt


Saint Nicholas, wonder-worker. Pray for us. 

2 comments:

  1. I may have to try it... Never been a fan of it but I have never had homemade either!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I will attempt to make this, wishing to honor your Mom and her recipe

    ReplyDelete