Monday, November 29, 2010

My favorite recipe is also my favorite Christmas tradition!

Fruitcake!  This ain't your grocery store stuff!  This ain't even your mail order stuff!  This is the real McCoy from 150 years ago!


The real thing!
 Want to see pictures with the recipe?  Right here!
http://tapestry316.blogspot.com/2009/12/fruitcake-recipe-spirit-of-christmas.html (ACEO giveaway was for 2009, not this year!)

Want more details about the recipe?  Including a few hints!
http://tapestry316.blogspot.com/2009/12/fruitcake-spirit-of-christmas-treasure.html (ACEO giveaway was for 2009, not this year!)


Just want the recipe? 
Here you go (along with a few comments from me!)

9 eggs


2 cups of butter (real butter, not margarine or shortening!!!)

2 cups of sugar (regular white sugar – not brown sugar!!!)

4 cups of flour (I like unbleached white flour for this fruitcake – no one has ever used wheat in this recipe)

4 pounds of fruit and nuts – use Candied pineapple, cherries, citron, orange and lemon peel; golden raisins (not dark raisins), pecans, and currants (if you like them – my sis and I don’t use the currants because we don’t like them =p). Just make sure that all of the fruit and nut amounts add up to 4 pounds. Doing the math is the hardest part of making this fruitcake. Take a calculator. Totally!

1 cup of molasses (we use unsulfured dark molasses – yummy!)

1 cup of brandy or fruit juice (I like orange juice in the fruitcake – Mary likes brandy. Just make sure you use the same brandy to soak the fruitcake. We usually use peach or apricot brandy. Oh, and don’t soak the cakes in orange juice even if you did put it in the fruitcake – yuck! Just pick one of those brandies and use that to soak the cakes.)

You will also need one tablespoon of each of these spices (don’t omit any of them!!!) ~ allspice, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and cloves.

Okay – here come the directions. Remember that this recipe came with very few instructions! Nana wrote it out and then I made notes through the years…

Messy job number one: Grease the pans. Line the pans with paper. Grease the paper. Nice. We use shortening to do this (we, Kimosabi? I use shortening to do this... One year Mary did the pans and I did the fruit… Pans are nice – the shortening makes your hands soft *winks*  Fruit is sticky...) So for the 9 egg fruit cake you will need a herd of small loaf pans, or three small loaf pans and a big tube pan. I like the tube pan because I think the cake is really pretty even if it is harder to get the paper in there. Hey – it’s what Nana used *smiles* But, if you use the tube pan be prepared for it to cook a looooong time…

Messy job number two: Wash the raisins and pick out all of the stems. Do the same with the currants if you are using them. Nana used to do this the night before and leave them all to dry overnight. She liked currants so she always used them, too.  Don't skip this job.  Stems are yucky in the cakes =p Now take your candied fruit and prepare to get really sticky. Cut all of the candied cherries and candied pineapple pieces in half. After you have all of the fruit cut and the raisins and currants are dry, mix them all of the fruit and nuts together.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition. Add molasses and mix well. You can use a mixer for this part (newly added to the instructions… hehe – but this is the only time to use the mixer!)

Sift flour and spices together. Combine the sifted flour/spice mixture with the fruit. This is very important because otherwise your fruit will all sink to the bottom. Ugly and not so good. It’s okay if you have a little flour left – or you can just add it all to the fruit. I told you the instructions were a little sparse in the original! I have done it both ways, though, and as long as the fruit is totally coated with the flour mixture it will work okay.

Now you can put your mixer away unless you are not at all attached to it and you don’t care if it’s little motor burns up… (newly added to instructions due to life experience of a recent recipient of this recipe…) Note, again, the need for a huge wooden spoon! The wooden bowl is the one that Nana used all the years that she made fruitcake.

My sister and THE bowl that Nana used.  It's about 100 years old now.

Now is also a good time to pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. And – VERY IMPORTANT!!! – put a big pan of water in the bottom of your oven. I use a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Make sure that this is always full of water or your fruitcake will be really dry.

Pour the creamed mixture into a huge bowl (trust me – big is not big enough) and add the fruit mixture a little at a time, alternating with a little brandy. Blend well after each addition. Continue adding the fruit mixture and the brandy until they are all in the creamed mixture.
Okay – now fill all of those greased little and big pans about two thirds full of batter. You can bake them all at the same time, but make sure that there is a little space between them.
Your fruitcakes will take between one and three hours to bake depending on the size of your pan. Listen to them – they make a happy sound when they are cooking. When they are done, they are silent (mostly). Test with a toothpick, too, but remember that they are moist. Also, look for them to pull away from the edge of the pans just a teeny bit when they are done. Doneness timing is tricky – you may have to experiment until you find the right timing for your oven. Little loaves take about an hour; tube pan takes about two or three hours. Heavy on the “about”…

When they are done, let the little yummies cool completely. Now, grab that brandy – you do have some left, don’t you? Pour a bit of it in a bowl and then dip cheese cloth pieces in the brandy. You can also use the old kind of ‘flour sacking’ cotton dish towels for this if you would like. Squeeze it out a bit and then wrap your fruit cake up. You don’t want too much brandy on the cakes or they will get squishy on the outside and you won’t have any brandy left to sip on New Year’s Eve. After you have them well doused, wrap them tightly in heavy aluminum foil.

*laughs* Here’s the hard part – store the fruitcakes in the fridge for about a week before you eat it – for the best flavor that is. My brother-in-law says he has to sample it the day it is made just to make sure it is okay and fit for human consumption. He is my sister’s official food taster =p

Here’s another variable, too – my sister prefers to store her cakes in the freezer. I prefer to store mine in the refrigerator. They seem to keep well both ways as long as they are tightly sealed. Get careless with that aluminum foil, and your cake will get dry.

Well, I hope you enjoy this tradional favorite recipe of mine!  Any questions?  Just post them in the comments and I will be happy to answer them. 

Mikayla, Cynthia, Naomi and Mary hard at work - while I goof off and take pictures!
 Mmmmmm!  The house smells so good with the fruitcakes baking!
Blessings,
Kathy

PS This Etsy Bloggers' Carnival is all about your favorite family tradition - or your favorite holiday recipe - Well, as you can see - fruitcake covers both of those AND it covers all the holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, too!  Thanks, SpottedCowSoaps for the great blog carnival topic!

15 comments:

  1. Looks like a wonderful tradition and I bet you enjoy eating it afterwards. lol

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  2. Everyone looks like they are having so much fun! What a great tradition...and great treat!

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  3. As much as I love fruit cake, I'm not much of a baker- and I have no one to help me eat it, so you know who would finish it off right, lol?
    If I had a family, this is what we would do together. Looks wonderful!

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  4. What a wonderful, wonderful tradition!

    ♥♥♥
    Sue

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  5. OK. I will admit it. I love fruitcake! The fruit cake my Aunt Minnie used to make, that is. Your recipe may be similar. I'll have to compare. I've never made it myself. but I just might sometime. I've missed it for many years now.
    The 100 year old family bowl is awesome!

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  6. Oh no, now I'm hungry again!

    Great tradition!

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  7. LOL - me, too, Joy!

    Thanks, Splendid! The bowl is really cool in person because you can tell it was hand carved. Yeah - we missed a few years of making this and we really missed it!

    Thanks, MYSAVIOR!

    Pink - that is a delima! LOL! I tried to cut the recipe down to a 6 egg cake, but it is really hard to find containers of fruit that work. LOL - I think the makers of the candied fruit KNOW that there is going to be a LOT made!

    memories - it is LOTS of fun! Even for those who are not as fond of the cakes *lol*

    Pam - I haven't eaten any yet! LOL - still letting mine 'soak'. Sister's hubby waited 24 hours - a record for him! LOL! He usually has it the same day we make it. It is one of my favorite family traditions!

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  8. LOL Well hope you enjoy it when you do get to eat it!

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  9. Mmmmm! I see fruitcake in my near future ;-)

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  10. Thanks for sharing. :) Wish I liked them. LOL

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  11. *roflol* Well, Carole - maybe you can just enjoy the smell of them baking! LOL!

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  12. When someone tells me they think fruitcake is horrible then I tell them that I knew a couple that made FABULOUS fruitcake and I looked forward to it every year. She liked to spritz hers with a bit of some sort of brandy:)

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  13. Erika, that is so cool! Ummm... I think my sister went past 'spritz' this year - mine is totally doused ;-) Usually we use peach or apricot brandy.

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  14. *roflol* Awwww, c'mon, rose, you know you want some ;-)

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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