|Warning! Baking fruit cake can |
make you batty!
Well, tonight has been a great education. I decided to make Grandma Florence Pinnock's "Rich, Dark Fruit Cake." Several disasters, about $1,000 worth of ingredients later and it is now safely tucked in the oven for THREE HOURS. I put it in at 9:30pm. Note to self: Read all of the recipe before beginning to cook at 8:30pm to see if you are going to be up all night waiting for it to bake!
According to my lovely grandma "Many, many years ago, as far back as we can read, fruits were gathered and dried and saved to mix with eggs, sugar, spices, and flour, and baked as special treat at Christmas time. Fruit cake recipes have been handed down in families for generations to be used at this holiday season." She has 4 fruit cake recipes in her book, Of Food and Thought. Yes, you heard me, in her cookbook published in 1965 there are 4 different recipes for fruit cake.
Things I've learned:
1. Fruit cake is like a religion.
2. In the past there seems to be an unnatural love for fruit cake.
3. Now there seems to be an unnatural hate of fruit cake.
4. My grandma loved fruit cake.
5. She wanted to share the fruit cake joy.
6. Don't spill the egg whites, they are hard to clean up!
1. How could candied fruit be so gross? It's candy and it's fruit it just doesn't add up.
2. My grandmother says you can store these fruit cakes for a month -- does that make you scared?
3. This recipe makes 10 pounds of fruit cake. Is that really necessary?
4. Will these fruit cakes I make and give away last for an eternity in the great game of fruit cake roulette? Will it ever be ingested or just given away like a hot potato?
Time for pondering now. Think of a serene song as you contemplate.
Now, before you begin:
1. You will need super sized cooking implements, don't just try cutting all that candied and dried fruit up at one time in your food processor it -- Oh no, you will need either an industrial size food processor or work in batches (you could learn the hard way by letting it seize up before everything is nicely chopped).
2. You will need super sized bowl for mixing. Don't just try your wimpy Kitchen Aid you've had for years--it will start making very scary noises. I also only had one spoon capable of folding in the egg whites at the end.
3. I laid out all of the ingredients before hand--because there is a large amount of work to do just to prepare them to be mixed in. Here they are below (Note the 2 lbs of nuts, the 12 eggs, the full pound of butter, and the 2 pounds of dry and candied fruit)
Rich, Dark Fruit Cake
"First, a rich, dark, heavily-fruited cake, perfect for a wedding cake or a very special Christmas cake."
1 lb butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 t soda
2 t nutmeg
2 t cinnamon
4 1/2 cups unsifted flour
2/3 cup molasses
2 packages puffed seeded raisins (seriously what size is a package of raisins? Unnecessarily vague)
1 package current (Cruelly vague - was vagueness the way to go in the '60s?)
1 pound dates, pitted and cut in small pieces
1 pound walnuts
1/2 pound blanched almonds
1/2 pound pecans
1 pound candied pineapple
2 cups maraschino cherries
(Phew! That's a lot of ingredients)
I've had to do some major interpretation for the instructions. It seems as if we speak a different cooking language now. I feel a little as if I've entered a worm hole and come out where I am just supposed to be able to infer the meaning in several places. I will point those out in RED.
Cream the butter and the sugar. ('nuf said)
Add the egg yolks, well beaten and then add the juice from the cherries. (Separate the eggs and save the whites -- they are important. And by the way -- it doesn't tell you this above but drain the maraschino cherries and save the juice!)
Add the soda to the molasses and beat until thick and add to the first mixture. (I have no idea why we need to add the soda to the molasses, but just do it! My grandma said so!)
Then add the flour and the spices sifted together. (Self explanatory)
Clean and wash the currants and separate the raisins, blanch and split the almonds; cut the cherries and pineapple into pieces and add the dates and mix all the fruit together and add to the cake batter. (It was at this point my mixer started to whine! TIPS: 1. currants come washed now --if you can't find currents use craisins, I did. 2. Separate the raisins? I don't even know what that means! 3. Thank heavens you can buy blanched split almonds! 4. I cut all the fruit up in a food processor in BATCHES 5. You will also need to chop the walnuts and pecans.)
(At this point I poured all of the batter out into a HUGE bowl and then mixed in the nuts with the only spoon in my house capable of stirring this concoction.)
Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and then fold into mixture. (This was a little like folding sea foam into clay soil, but it did work to lighten the mixture.)
Use a large 12x9x4 inch pan. (I didn't have a 4 inch deep pan, so I used a larger casserole dish and it seemed to work just fine.) Line the pan with 3 layers of greased heavy paper. (I used parchment paper.)
BAKE AT 275 DEGREES FOR 3 HOURS! (Bonus: You will have time to update your blog and clean the kitchen, because everyone else will be asleep.) You may bake the cake in a number of separate loaf tins. This amount will make a ten pound cake. the advantage of cooking it in one large pan and cutting it into loaves after baking is that there will be less crust, and the flavor is improved.
|Fresh out of the oven. I tested it with a knife to make sure it wasn't overcooked.|
I let it cool the rest of the night and then trimmed it up for placing in cellophane bags.
It made 14 mini loafs - You heard me 14! Sorry about the difference in color from the two pictures the first one was taken with a brighter flash. The cut up cake looks more like the real thing. The same thing happened to the picture below.
Here is one sliced ready for my children's breakfast. I thought it tasted quite yummy (but then again I had just invested 5 hours), they were ambivalent.
Here is the loaf cut up -- see all the fruit and nuts. I gave one to my mom this morning and she said grandma left the fruit bigger so you almost got whole fruits, but the taste was pretty similar.
Now I just need to give them away and see if I get re-gifted with my own fruit cake this Christmas. Will it be like a fruit cake chain letter? With me sending out 14 of just this variety I think it's inevitable.
Tune in soon for more Grandma Florence fruit cake wisdom!