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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to make Fruit Cake like a Champion

Fruit Cake.....either you love it or hate it right?

Well We are entering the 2nd week of November, so if you want to have a Charles Dickens Christmas.....you better get cracking.

The recipe I am going to post is one I pulled off of the All Recipes website. So all credit and props to them. This recipe is tested and if you did this recipe step by step....your clan would have the merriest of Christmas's.

However, being Klecko....I am going to put on my baking scuba suit and submerge this concept to deeper levels.

If your feel as if your head is pressurized......feel free to join me.

ALL RECIPE FRUITCAKE

Ingredients

1/8 cup chopped dried cherries
1/8 cup chopped dried mango
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried currants
2 tablespoons chopped candied citron
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dark rum, divided

Directions
1.Soak cherries, mango, cranberries, currants, and citron in 1/4 cup rum for at least 24 hours. Cover tightly, and store at room temperature.

2.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Butter a 6x3 inch round pan, and line with parchment paper.

3.In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; mix into butter and sugar in three batches, alternating with molasses and milk. Stir in soaked fruit and chopped nuts. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

4.Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons rum.

5.Cut out one piece parchment paper and one piece cheesecloth, each large enough to wrap around the cake. Moisten cheesecloth with 1 tablespoon rum. Arrange cheesecloth on top of parchment paper, and unmold cake onto it. Sprinkle top and sides of cake with remaining rum. Wrap the cheesecloth closely to the surface of the cake, then wrap with paper. Place in an airtight tin, and age for at least 10 weeks. If storing longer, douse with additional rum for every 10 weeks of storage.

KLECKO FRUITCAKE TIPS -

OK....first off we should talk about the booze we put into our fruit cake (as well as paint it with). The traditional recipe calls for rum. This recipe found it largest audience in Britain, therefore rum would seem to be a natural choice.

However, living in America, I had always grown up with my fruit cake being painted with bourbon.

Last year Gilson and I had a knock down drag out over this, she wanted rum and told me if we used bourbon that we would simply be hillbilly's.

As usual, I let her have her way.

I should add, fruit cake is no different than other recipes that call for rum. If it is needed....make sure your rum is "dark rum".

So she made hers, and I made mine. We both used the same ingredients, but we just painted them with our individual booze preference.

Hers were better.

There...... I confess.

So this year, H-E-N-N-E-S-S-Y comes aboard and says only savages use rum.

With that said, I went to Facebook and posed the following question on Kim Ode's "Baking 101" site.........

Fruit Cake - Bourbon or Rum?

In less than 3 minutes I received 19 responses.

17 voted for bourbon

1 voted for rum

And then there always has to be that one "individual" who plays by their own rules....so we actually got a vote for Amaretto, but truth be told....it's not a bad idea.

I have often thought about using Southern Comfort as my fruit cake alcohol. Not only does it have a high percentage of booze, but it is really sweet. It would pair well with the existing flavors...don't you think?

But like I said "When in Rome" so we opted for bourbon this year.

Remember, when fruit cake was invented, the Brit's didn't have the options that they do today. I'll bet if this Christmas treat was invented today, and you were strolling through London town....well you'd most certainly see new ideas within this medium.

The other thing I find interesting about this recipe is how it calls for both citron and dried fruits.

Usually fruit cake recipes will call for just one of the two, but not both.

Or sometimes the recipe will call for Citron and zest, or dried fruit and zest.

But zest is never used on its own.....it is there to accompany the Citron or dried fruit flavors.

I have found that most Americans don't like Citron anymore.....in the back rooms of V.I.P. baking circles we call Citron.....NUCLEAR FRUIT.

But once again....if the Brits had the dried fruit options that we have today, back when this holiday bread was invented....Klecko wonders if they would have used Citron.

The dried Mango in this recipe somewhat puzzled me. I have always liked dried mango, but I'm noticing that dried apricots were omitted. I would most certainly swap apricots for the mango.....it just seems more reverent I guess.

The only way I'd use the mango would be if I spent Christmas in that hut, next to the palm tree on the Corona Christmas commercial.

How about currants?

Do you like that option, once again - once again.....this is such a Brit ingredient, and often times this fruit is utilized in America by chefs and bakers alike.

But from my experience, flavor has little to do with it, most food technicians like the size of the currant, basically it is a baby raisin.

Being smaller, this offers a different texture, and that affects "mouth feel".

Klecko has got nothing against the currant, but he's a Pollack, and that means the currant has to get swapped out for the golden raisin, it was ordained by the Polish Christ.

But on a serious note....golden raisins are great because they are so meaty and their sweetness squirts out as if you were chomping on a June bug.

When you read that the molasses in the recipe was unsulfered, did you stop to ask yourself why?

Almost every fruit cake recipe you will find will call for this.

Black strap molasses is more of an American ingredient.

Many American bakers will swap out the B-Strap for the unsulfered and use a little bit less since the B-Strap is so much stronger....but Klecko swaps them out bit for bit.

So these are just a few observations.

OK...with that said...........

Why don't you L.A.B. RATS get out their and collect your ingredients and get cracking. If you have questions on this topic....I'd love to hear you shout....oh yeah.....let me be the first to say it.......

MERRY CHRISTMAS CHARLIE BROWN.

8 comments:

  1. I don't know if this is still the case, (your vast audience can chime in), but decades ago fruitcake was used as wedding cake in Great Britain. If someone was unable to attend the wedding, he or she would be mailed a small piece of fruitcake in a tiny box made especially for this purpose. I think it's a lovely symbolic gesture.

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  2. Collecting ingredients, yes. Citron seems to have disappeared from all of my usual sources, except for the 4 oz tubs that are probably half syrup. Anyone know of a retailer selling chopped candied citron in bulk, or in one or two pound bags? (I need about a kilogram or two .. three pounds.)

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  3. Dara....this is great info, I didn't know that. That's one of the benefits to posting blogs, you end up learning so much about the topics you enjoy.

    Htom....I feel ya, it it getting tougher to find citron. I think Kortes (on Randolph) will carry some after Thanksgiving. I'll shake the branches and see if anybody knows where a stash can be located.

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  4. So Klecko - does this mean that I have to make my own fruit cake or are you going to set me up? It seems like a heck of a lot of work for me but envision you dancing around St. Agnes with bells on in complete and utter rum soaked ecstacy making fruit cake for the masses. So will you please make this girls Christmas dreams come true and bake some Fruitcake for us lazy bastards that don't want to make it ourselves?

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  5. Blech to citron and other candied fruits.

    HOWEVER, if you MUST purchase it - try nutsonline.com : http://www.nutsonline.com/driedfruit/glazedfruit/diced-citron.html

    $4.99/lb for candied citron.

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  6. I leave out the citron ...UCK and like you Klecko, definitely use golden raisins (My Polish Grandma always said no citron or currents and lots of golden raisins). But I differ with what you paint it with. I wrap them in cheesecloth and place in a large tightly covered plastic container after painting them with a sweet wine (Remember Mogan David or Manichevitz?) once a week soaking well for a total of 6-8 weeks. YUM!!

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