Monday, January 31, 2011

Poor Man's Fruit Cake - The fruit cake that brought me to tears (actually to weeping)!

I saved "Poor Man's Fruit Cake" for January with two reasons in mind. First, how fitting is that a fruit cake for January is called Poor Man's. Second, by the end of December I was really tired!!! So, I thought I'll do it the first week of January, then the second and so on and so on. Here we are the last day of January and I finally finished my fruit cake odyssey.

Everything was going really well. It was an easy recipe and since it had no candied fruit in it I thought it had a good chance of being my favorite. So yesterday, Sunday afternoon, my family wanted to go for a little ride to get out of the gloomy inversion, but I had to stay home because the recipe calls for 1 1/2 hours of baking. I put two loaves in the oven--one was a little over full so I knew to watch them because they would finish at different times. I was being extra careful because I wanted to give one to my Dad for his birthday that day--he just loves fruit cake. The first loaf finishes--and I thought--c'est magnifique! I had created a beautiful, golden brown, shiny fruit cake. It had little scalloped edges from the pan it was baked in--it was a cutie patootie!  I knew the second one would not be as beautiful--it was a little bloated on top and wouldn't have that perfect curve that is so important in quick breads. I also thought it might get a little too brown before it finished baking inside. Not to worry I at least had one perfect loaf to give!

I take it out of the pan to cool and go into my bedroom to rest for 10 minutes (who wouldn't need to rest after plumping raisins etc!). My family arrives home and I hear them talking happily in the kitchen. I ignore my exhaustion and go to greet them.  They were huddled around the carcass of my beautiful fruit cake as they ate and hacked at it. Not a slice or plate in sight, just eating where they stood. They looked at me and said something like, "slurp, slurp, gobble, gobble, yum, smack, lick."

My baby--they were eating my baby. They looked like dingos eating my baby! I exploded and started to weep. This is not an exaggeration--I was weeping over my little perfect cake--for about a half an hour. I tried to explain to myself and them why, I stuttered, "I stayed home to make this, It was for my aged father, Didn't you see how perfect it was? I take pictures of my food now before we eat it you know! Who eats like this--what are you savages?" They looked at me like I was from outer space and vacated the kitchen. I then took the carcass and was able to slice up half of it and take a picture for the blog. Alas, my father had to make due with the slightly bloated, a little too brown, excuse for a fruit cake that then emerged from the oven.

Once you weep over a fruit cake you really have had the complete fruit cake experience and probably shouldn't make any more for at least another 11 months.

Here's what my grandmother says about "Poor Man's Fruit Cake." "When you make such a rich cake, it is always good to make a poor man's cake for the children to enjoy during the holidays."

This cake is much healthier than the others - with less fat and sugar. It has a ton of raisins and currants and some nuts. It is yummy though and also a much easier recipe.

It has one funny ingredient 2 teaspoons of cocoa, and I honestly think it is just to give it a darker color so it looks richer than it is! Although I do think the cocoa does add a bit to the flavor profile.

Poor Man's Fruit Cake

1 cup seedless raising
1 package currants (still don't know exact amount, I found a box at the supermarket and used that.)
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (grandma calls for shortening, but I hate shortening and only use it if I'm scared butter won't give the right texture after baking.  Butter just tastes so much better to me and it worked great in this recipe.)

Put all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook for 15 minutes.  Cool to lukewarm.
This was really yummy smelling! Can't you just smell it -- buttery, sugary, plumpy raisins.

4 c sifted flour (remember I never sift)
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 t nutmeg
2 t cocoa
1 1/2 t soda
1 t boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup broken walnuts

(A lot less ingredients than the previous cakes) 

Beat the eggs well, add the soda that has been dissolved in the 1 teaspoon boiling water. (Still don't know why we put the soda in boiling water.) Fold in the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the cooked fruit and liquid.  (I just poured the dry ingredients over the wet and folded away).  Fold in the walnuts.

Line the pans with waxed paper and grease them well. (I just greased my pans and it came out fine--it was a risk though.) Bake in 300 degrees F. oven for about an hour and a half. Place pan of a water on lower shelf of oven while baking the cake.  This amount will make 2 regular sized loaf pans and one small one. (For some reason I totally missed putting water on lower shelf and the part about it making a 3rd smaller loaf. I better start reading through the recipes better. No wonder my second loaf was bloated!)

Here are the 4 and 1/2 slices I had left after the vultures vacated the kitchen. If you like raisins it is very YUM!