Saturday, December 18, 2010
Notcho Grand Mommas Fruit Cake!
Hey it's almost Christmas and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with fruitcake! I know you're thinking the same exact thing..right?!?! Ok fine I realize that your vision of fruit cake is much like the repulsive picture above. I am here to rescue you from that horrendous excuse for a dessert. Fruit cake has such a bad reputation though! I feel bad for it, it's trying to spread Christmas cheer, and the folk that still come packing to every party with one in tow are trying to do the same thing. Even if they do buy one at the dollar store and unwrap and slap it on a plate in hopes of people thinking they actually took the time to make it.
I was given the gift of loving fruitcake back when I was attending CCI and Chef Lynn was all like "Oh hey we are making fruitcake today!" All us students were all like "Oh god not fruitcake! Why? Think of the children!" we were quite the dramatic bunch..apparently. Chef was much more professional and prison guard like as well, I loved her:0) She was effing awesome...uhoh...DIGRESSION! So anywowilosemytrainofthoughteasily! We got to work frantically like little elves making this new and improved fruitcake that was going to change our opinion on this under appreciated holiday tradition, even if it was the middle of April. It got me to pondering and I wondered...where the mother eff did fruitcake originate from? SO I looked it up, being over three years ago I lost my notes but I shall provide some nifty info on this delectable fruity breadcake.
In a nut shell! The ancient Romans have a rough draft of fruit cake in which they use pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed up in barley mash. What? You don't think that sounds good? Well pardon me but they didn't have Kitchen Aids and ovens that bake at 350 degrees for and hour. If you could hear me I was just scoffing at your judgements. So onward with the history! Back in those fun yet plaque infested middle ages they got a bit more creative and and added some honey and spices and preserved fruit rather than dried crap. And that is when the name fruitcake was created...applaud for the middle ages please for their creativity...I mean fruit in a cake and they called it fruitcake!! INGENIOUS! So as it turns out Europe went nuts, I know I'm so punny, over fruitcake and started adding nuts and butter and fresh fruits, all depending on availability of the product. Ocean spray and Tropicana weren't around quite yet so it was tough to get this stuff. Those crazy Germans were using milk in theirs! The use of sugar didn't really come about until the American colonies started harvesting it..imagine that America providing sugar? Odd. They also discovered that the fruit could be candied and lasted longer making the cake more affordable and popularity soared! Thus giving us the unfortunate state of fruitcake in this day and age. Countries all over the world have their own adaptations of this tradition and also different times of year they have it as tradition.
Fruitcake is pretty awesome, I mean come on it's been around for at least 1000 years in different forms and flavors. People all over have made their own versions and everyone loves it! So why don't we end any hatred you may have towards fruitcake and let me introduce you to my friend Farm House Fruitcake. This style of fruitcake was handed down to me by Chef Lynn and she tells me it was a formula that her dear friend and old mentor of mine Chef Simon Stevenson. I gotta give props were props are due, ya know? So do me favor go grab a bottle of brandy...no really it's for the cake I swear...
This formula is originally in weight rather than volume so I'll volumize it for you, oh, I like the way that sounds!
Unsalted Butter- One stick
Self Rising Four(Don't freak out I'll explain)- 1 cup
Confectioner Sugar- 1/2 cup
Mixed Dry Fruit- 1 cup...I usually use apricots, craisins, and raisins
Cinnamon- 1/4 teaspoon
Cardamom- 1/8 t
Nutmeg- 1/8 t
Ginger- 1/8 t
Whole eggs- 2
Milk- 3 Tablespoons
Lemon Zest- 2 t
Self rising flour= 1 1/2t Baking Powder and 1/2 t of salt per cup of flour.
Soak your fruit in a mix of brandy and red wine for up to a month but no less that one day. It doesn't call for wine but I like the depth of flavor it adds.
Drain your fruit, reserve the liquids, I'll explain later.
1.Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal, I've done this successfully with a paddle attachment on a kitchen aid.
2.Stir in sugar, mixed fruit, and spices.
3.Beat eggs and milk together
4.Stir the egg mix into the flour mix and add the zest
5.Grease a 6'' cake pan and line bottom with parchment
6.Bake at 325 until middle is set and cake is firm to the touch. 1 hourish check at 50 min just in case.
Cool in the pan until warm then turn out onto cooling rack
For your tasty liquids I said to reserve I would suggest making a hot mulled cider and adding some of the tasty deliciousness (A nickname Tim and I gave it) for a lovely Holiday drink!
So There you have it the cake that has converted some of the most stubborn fruitcake haters into lovers. And I'm a lover not a fighter so I am a huge fan of this cake. I hope you try this recipe and if you do let me know how it turns out! I love you all and hope your Christmahanukwanzaakah's are filled with warmth and the best of holiday traditions!