Monday, December 14, 2015

Let them eat fruitcake


I started baking fruitcakes about five weeks ago. A first, for me. When I was little the Christmas cake held little appeal for me, despite the effort and time that went into it, on my mother's part (I did like the marzipan, though) - too much fruit and too little cake, perhaps? And since then I have grown out of any sweet tooth I may have had, and rarely eat cakes and cookies and candies at all. But I wanted to give some home made gifts this year, and 'tis the season. So.

One cake will be reserved for ourselves, and the rest will be gifts, to be delivered around the neighborhood: our landlord, our building's managing agent, local friends.

Sahadi's had beautiful glacé citrons, which I have never seen, before; their flavour is quite unlike candied orange and lemon zest. The other fruits were big, fat, moist dates, raisins, currants, startlingly red cherries (is there ever a natural-colour option?), the aforementioned orange and lemon zest, plus pecans and almonds. For spice - mahlab and cinnamon, which work well together.

There is not much flour, compared to fruit, a flour to fruit ratio of about 1:8


There are loaves, large and small, and there are little round cakes. They are all dense and heavy. They are sprinkled with brandy every week, and live wrapped in linen (antique handkerchiefs with handrolled edges- I knew I was keeping them for a reason! - they came from a long-shuttered junk shop on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn), then wrapped in clingfilm and finally put into airtight containers. The smell when you pop the lid is wonderful - fruity and spicy and very good.


I could not resist trying one of the small ones last night. You just need a thin slice or two - they are very filling, and what you crave after  a long walk, with tea. Or Grand Marnier. Maybe I can save one or two for my Frigid Forage on New Year's Day.

Someone said that fruitcake pairs very well with Wensleydale cheese. Has anyone tried that?


One cake has already been delivered to its new home, in Park Slope - a gift brought along for a Christmas party. Somewhere in there is a dollar coin, washed and dipped in brandy.

That royal icing is rock hard, over a layer of thin marzipan, which was coaxed to stay put with a brushing of rosehip jelly. And clearly I am no master mason; more of a spackler.

(The gorgeous ribbon is a gift from my friend Mustafa, who brings silky wheels of it from Istanbul to wherever he is going, for ribbon-lovers.)


     ______________________________

                 Book a Frigid Forage - New Year's Day



32 comments:

  1. This is gorgeous and sounds delicious!! Do you have time to post the recipe?

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    1. Erm...maybe. It's a long one and I will have to tweak quite a bit as there are holes in it!

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  2. I have a lingering, curious aversion to fruitcake. Perhaps, sine it's been at least 50 years since I've given it a shot, I need to make one of my own. I think your frosting is a fitting finish for such a burley loaf.

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    1. Burley. Don't see that word often, and then I did last night, in the Faulkner novel I am reading.

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  3. Your.fruitcakes.look.delicious.!!!!!

    Bernardine

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  4. Does Mustafa ever make it to Denver? I'm craving some of that gorgeous ribbon! And would he sell me some even if I (and all my family) still say, "Constantinople?"
    I've always liked a bit of poufy whipped cream on warmed-up fruitcake.
    A lovely post; thank you for taking the time and oh yes, indeed! With Brandy!
    Diane in Denver

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    1. I don't see Mustafa making it to Denver! Thank you, as always.

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  5. Beautiful fruitcakes. I made 8 this year. I find a well aged cheese and a glass of port goes very nicely with fruitcake.

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    1. Hmm, 8 - that's a lot. This cheese thing is quite new to me. Looking forward to trying it.

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  6. Beautiful. Mr. Capote would be pleased. Shortbread and fruitcake are two must haves this time of year, everything else (mincemeat, steamed pudding, trifle, more cookies and candies) is negotiable, but nice. I always make a half batch of my mom's fruitcake recipe since she passed away a few year's ago. A nice connection with the past. It makes two large, that are enough for my Brother, SIL and myself, plus the odd visitor. Perfect winter treat with a strong cup of tea or coffee for the next few weeks.

    While making the rounds gathering ingredients, one of the packaged diced mixed candied fruit listed rutabaga as the main ingredient. I suppose it would be okay. I opted for candied orange, lemon and citron, along with glace cherries (red and deep green), currants, two kinds of raisins, dates, almonds and walnuts. I always follow the recipe exactly, I even need to buy the specific not-very-fancy brandy, despite having several bottles of better at home.

    I'm sure if fruitcake was packaged as an energy bar it would sell like crazy...

    Cheers,
    Jake

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    1. Mr Capote liked fruitcake?

      Rutabaga - gee whizz, I guess you can candy anything. I also discovered not very fancy brandy and was amazed you can buy French VSOP for $15...

      I always like your comments, Jake.

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    2. Thank Marie,

      Fruitcake Weather...

      Mr. Capote's short story "A Christmas Memory" is a seasonal must read, makes one a bit teary/sniffle-y tho'.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Memory

      A sampled my fruitcake last night - a supper of old cheddar, fruitcake and scotch. Yummy. A Snowy morning here in Alberta.

      Jake

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    3. "I" sampled. oops.

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    4. Me again...

      I just noticed an adaption is currently playing in NYC. Cool

      http://www.irishrep.org/christmasmemory.html

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  7. Oh!Wensleydale (or, I suppose, any similar cheese) is very good with a rich fruit-y cake.Mind you, I probably wouldn't want it here in tropical heat.But on a deep, dark wintry evening...

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  8. Neither my friends or family like the glace fruits so I've experimented with dried fruit. I take raisins, and mixed dried fruit and soak them overnight in rum. The I make a batter with cinnamon, nutmeg, four, brown sugar and eggs. I add the fruit and any left over rum from the soaking and bake in a low oven. Once the fruitcake is cool, I wrap it in rum soaked cheesecloth, then in clingfilm and store it in an airtight container. The longer it ages the better it tastes.

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    1. The method sounds very very similar. Most of these fruits were just dried, not the cherries and citron, of course. And yes - brandy-soaking was involved.

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  9. Marie, I love your idea of giving fruitcakes as gifts..

    Here in Virginia, fronting the sylvan Shenandoah River in Clarke County, there is an Abbey wherein the congenial, friendly monks sell their annual fruitcakes. One must drive there (Holly Cross Abbey--a bit remote) and pick up the cakes as the monks do not ship their splendid little gems. But this loverly Abbey--located in such a magnificent setting--is the kind of place that once you visit, one seeks an excuse to return. So, thanks to a reminder from you, I'll head over and see the monks this weekend before heading "up north" for the Holidays. And several gifts will soon be in hand.

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    1. Hi Clark - think I have heard of the cake-making abbey...

      Looking forward to your trip to these parts!

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  10. The days in the life of a fruit cake - they are beautiful and I'm sure they are going to make some lucky people very happy. Maybe keep a tiny one for the next time you come here ?

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    1. I wonder how long they'd last - I suppose I just keep brandying it? I'd post one but I'm not sure it would make it...xxx

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  11. Icing and marzipan sounds like a great coating. Might make a convert out of me! Beautiful cakes. King Arthur has cherries, but pricey! http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/sweetened-tart-cherries-8-oz

    Happy Holidays! Lisa

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Lisa. I do have access to dried cherries, but King Arthur's are not ye olde glacé - which I kind of like for these cakes.

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  12. I love fruitcake, especially if it's full of walnuts. When I make them, I double the cake recipe. And yes, wrapping them in cheesecloth sprinkled with brandy is a treat!

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    1. I have not tried with walnuts - next time!

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  13. Sounds wonderful. What do I have to do to get on your gift list?

    Geseënde Kersfees

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    1. Well, there may be a wee one left, Ed (since you got the spelling and everything right!). Send me your address. (Use the Find/Follow tab top right of the page for my email address.)

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  14. Beautiful. Looks so tempting.

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  15. Sounds yummy. Aren't you going to post the recipe? Would love to have it.

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  16. Sounds yummy. Aren't you going to post the recipe? Would love to have it.

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