Monday, December 07, 2009

Heavenly Fruitcake

About four years ago, my dad wistfully remarked that he would like to sample a really good fruitcake. It was during the holidays and he possibly was looking at one of those yucky fruitcakes that look all sticky and sweaty in their plastic-wrapped packages, with the colored bits of "fruit" and chewy looking "nuts" poking out of the "cake." I cheerfully told him that I had a real fruitcake recipe (RLB's Less Fruity Fruitcake from The Cake Bible) and that I would happily bake him one next Christmas.

So, I'm about 4 years overdue, and it's a different recipe, but who's counting?

December 5, 2009
Name of Cake: Heavenly Fruitcake
Occasion: Christmas, Melinda, and Heavenly Cake Bakers
Constituents: Cake, with rum and glaceed fruit and pecans

do not open until christmas, or later

I don't think I have ever tasted fruitcake, as I've only seen the terrible versions described above. Rose's photos of her Less Fruity Fruitcake in The Cake Bible began to change my mind about what a fruitcake could be. There could actually be cake! It could actually taste good!

I have truly been planning on baking the Less Fruity Fruitcake for years now, but I've always let the holiday season come and go without the cake being made. Mostly, I have been uninspired by the yucky looking candied fruit that the grocery stores tell me I ought to bake a fruitcake with. Eeewwwww.

Then here comes along Rose's Heavenly Cakes and she's got another recipe for fruitcake, this time with a lot more nuts, less glaceed fruit (which she now recommends should come from Europe), and a bigger capacity bundt pan. The pan costs about $35 so I was still more interested in The Cake Bible's version (Rose also recommends making little fruit cakelettes or one 6 in round), but Melinda and I agreed to try this one out together. Then we discovered the HCB were set to bake this for December, so Melinda and I planned to publish our posts at the same time.

fruit, getting rummy

First off, glaceed fruit must be soaked in rum for at least a week. Rose recommends getting the good stuff from France (via chefshop.com), but I found some good looking lemon and orange peel at the local Whole Foods. Many suggested that I candy my own peel, which really isn't so hard, but I wasn't up for the task. Good looking glaceed charries was nigh impossible to find locally. I almost ordered from chefshop, but then decided it would be faster to just give in and get the crummy grocery store cherries. I was already two weeks behind Melinda and getting nervous there wouldn't be enough time for the cake to mellow and get all yummy before Christmas.

When it came to making the batter, Rose gives curious instructions to soften the butter unti it becomes creamy. Creamy? Like this?

so is this what she means by creamy butter?

This creamy butter is them creamed with the beautiful, luscious, delightful dark muscovado sugar. Regular readers will recall how much I love muscovado sugar. For those of you who are new, just know that I freaking love the hell out of muscovado sugar.

I am curious why Rose goes back to the creaming method for this cake. With the Chocolate Streusel Cake, Rose explains that with all the liquid the creaming method is necessary so that the flour can absorb better. There doesn't seem to be a lot of liquid with this cake (or any liquid), but the butter is almost equal in weight to the flour. Is that why? Why, Rose? Why?

The batter, regardless of all these questions, was as lovely and thick as most RLB batters are:

heavenly fruitcake batter

I chose to use all pecans, as I am not much for walnuts and, more importantly, I discovered three different stashes of pecans in the freezer. That is pretty exciting!

I smoothed about 2/3 of the batter into two 8 inch loaf pans, and the rest into my 6-cup cakelette pan. I forgot about the instructions Rose gave about turning down the oven temperature if using a dark pan (which they all were) and about tenting the loaf pans with foil halfway thorugh the bake. After about 20 minutes the cakes and cakelettes were all pretty much overdone. Dang!

dangit, burnt fruicakelettes

These little cakelettes are the most burnt. The loaves aren't quite so black. The loaves got the rum-soaked cheesecloth treatment and will hang out until Christmas, or sometime thereabouts.

My friends, The Jellos, and I are sampling the little cakelettes as I write this post. Despite their burnt crust, the insides are moist, lightly sweet, and faintly spicy. The nuts and fruit are delicious and in good proportion to the cake (that's right, there's CAKE in this fruicake!), and our only complaint is that there isn't enough rummy taste. The Jello's bassett hound liked the cakelettes so much that not only did he help himself to one whole one (that he stole off the counter) and while we were standing in the kitchen amazed that a bassett hound stretched himself long enough to reach the countertop, he ran into the living room and stole the rest of my fruitcakelette. So hats off to Rose, who created a fruitcake delicious to both man and man's best friend!

I look forward to sampling the mellowed out loaves at Christmastime, and to get my dad's opinion on them. I will have to report back.

17 comments:

  1. I hope your dad likes this fruitcake. Better late than never, right? Too bad the cakelettes got burned. The shape's really pretty!

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  2. I love the idea of the little cakelettes. I adore fruitcake and made 2 in my bundt pans. Mine only baked for 35 minutes and they were still a bit dark and dry on the edges but moist inside. I still prefer my aunts white fruitcake and will make one for the holidays. I wrapped mine for Christmas Eve.

    Raymond

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  3. Anonymous7/12/09 10:03

    She probably uses creaming because the two-stage method would make too tender a cake to support all of those nuts and fruits.

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  4. Too bad your cakelettes burned, but they still look adorable! Love the first shot of the wrapped loaves!

    :)
    ButterYum

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  5. the batter doesn't lend itself to the usual mixing method as there is no added liquid and more than the usual amount of butter.

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  6. I agree with Pat, that your cakes looks so adorable! Mine was burnt too..lol..and i cut off the black crust and i ate the black crust cos it still tasted good..;P

    I love your photo of the fruits in the bottle soaking in rum. I wanted to take a photo too but i forgot!

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  7. Your Whole Foods peel looks great! The stuff I got was chopped up in little pieces and didn't look as pretty. Also, I like your glass jar, which looks more chef-like than plastic. I think it's almost worth making this again to see if you could perfect the cakelets because they look 97.5% spectacular and would be 100% if they weren't a little brown.
    Checked Melinda's blog but no fruitcake yet (I'm sure she's perfecting her homemade peel as we speak).

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  8. Sorry....I was working yesterday and was super pooped out when I got home.
    I forgot to post my cake! So sorry!
    Darn it! I made the cake over a month ago now. I will do it tonight.

    Your little cakelets look so sweet. What a shame they were crispy critters! So sad.

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  9. Hanaa, I hope he likes it, too. I think he will; they are so delicous what's not to like? I will have have to try the cakelettes again, as I agree, the shape is pretty.

    Raymond, hi, what's a white fruitcake? I am new to all this fruitcake stuff. The cakelette is a perfect size for an afternoon snack, I've discovered!

    Anonymous, thanks for your input! It seems Rose agrees with you. I didn't think of that.

    ButterYum, thanks! Even burnt they are tasty. That's saying something!

    Rose, thanks for stopping by Rose!! I wondered if the high proportion of butter had something to do with it, but it is nice to hear it from the master :)

    Faithy, I ate my burnt crust too, I didn't want to waste any of this good cake! Thanks for liking my fruit photo.

    BBC, I was quite pleased with the Whole Foods peel! The jar does make it look fancy, you are right. According to all of the commenters the cakelettes are appealing even burnt--I really ought to try again!

    Melinda, the crispy critters (haha!) are still tasty; the insides are quite excellent. Is your cake up yet? I am looking forward to your post!

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  10. Now those look like some fruitcakes I might be able to get behind! Sounds like it's not as solid as the ones we get at Christmas with the in-laws. Did you end up leaving the glaceed cherries out, or did you use the supermarket kind? Is that the red in the rummy fruit pic? At least they're not green! ;-)

    Didn't you have any fruitcake at my wedding? My mother-in-law made it and smuggled it from England in a cake carrier concealed inside a hat box! We have a hilarious picture of Andy and me trying to cut the fruitcake with the ceremonial cake-cutter. He looks like he's trying to pass a kidney stone. But I am told by those who like fruitcake that it was a very good one.

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  11. Raiuchka, yes, they are as solid inside. More cakey. I do have a photo of the insides but I have lost my ability to get them up on the internet. Ah well. I did use the grocery store kind, good eye! I avoided the green ones. I just couldn't support that.

    I do remember your wedding fruitcake and hearing that it had been smuggled in, but I didn't know Andy's mother made it! I didn't have any, but that photo sounds blog worthy!!

    PS--maybe you should make this one for your inlaws so you can avoid eating anything solid.

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  12. Your cakelets really are cute. I'm betting if enough rum were applied, the little bit of burnt taste would be disguised...or maybe you just wouldn't care. :)

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  13. Nancy B, you are right! Acutally, the rummy taste increased the longer the cakelettes sat before consuming. I ate the last one last night, about 5 days after baking, and it was nicely rummed. And I ate the burnt parts too!

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  14. I may be able to tolerate your fruitcakes! The funny fruit is still a bit offputting to me! But, my mom likes to make a sweet white sauce for fruitcake that helps me get through them! HA!

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  15. Joelf, oh Joelf, these aren't your typical fruitcake. you might like them!! i avoided most of the funny fruit--just the cherries--and there was a good amount of rum. i know you know that rum makes EVERYTHING better.

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  16. Loved your post - covering many uncertainties I experience! Your cakelets are wonderful - I know they were just delicious. You know how the French are famous for just a bit of burn here and there - yum.

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  17. Baking Sorceress' Apprentice, thanks! The cakelettes were wonderful, burnt and all. I like the comparison to the French; I will call them French fruitcakes and that will be that :)

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