From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The Silver Fox and I spent Black Friday making fruitcake. Not just any fruitcake, mind you. These rum soaked gems were gleaned from memories of Christmas past and their making was a part of holiday ritual that dates back to when our hearts were young and gay, and we were newlyweds living in a basement flat on the south side of Chicago. Financial constraints determined that gifts that year would be token offerings, and rather than make cookies, we decided to gift our families and friends with fruitcake. It was a selfish decision on our part. We didn't care much for cookies, but even back then, we'd never refuse a slice of fruitcake, especially if it was served with sippin' sherry or port. The building in which we lived was owned by a German Jewish couple, who for all intents and purposes had adopted us, and at their insistence the recipe for their fruitcake became ours. Our kitchen was tiny, as a matter of fact it had no counter space at all, and the fruitcakes had to be made on the white enamel instrument table that we used for our meals. The Silver Fox began by cutting paper strips from brown paper bags and lining the pans we had borrowed for the project. The fruit and nuts came next, and they were combined in an immaculately clean scrub bucket, the only container we owned that was large enough to hold the quantities of fruit and nuts we had to mix. The creaming came next and then, finally, everything was combined and we filled the pans with batter. Never have pans been watched with such anticipation. Four hours later we had 12 fruitcakes sitting on the instrument table, and with a mixture of pride and accomplishment, we wrapped each in rum soaked cheesecloth to store and ripen. We checked them religiously to make sure their shrouds remained moist and the cakes were properly mellowing. They were, if I may paraphrase, "a triumph". We still love fruitcake, and because I still have some restrictions on my activity, we decided to stay in this past Friday and cook, rather than risk crowds and an elbow in the eye. Memory, on many levels, made easy work of this year's fruitcakes. I know they'll be delicious, but I suspect they'll never measure up to those we made 50 years ago. I really hope you'll give this recipe a try. Here is how the cakes are made.
Cratchet's Christmas Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
2 cups dark seedless raisins
2 cups golden seedless raisins
1 cup diced candied lemon peel
1 cup diced candied orange peel
2 cups red glace cherries
1 cup green glace cherries
1 cup chunked glace pineapple
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons table salt
1-1/2 cups butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
8 eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 cups brandy or rum, divided use
1) Place light and dark raisins in a large bowl. Cover with 1/2 cup brandy or rum and allow to steep for 8 to 24 hours before proceeding with recipe.
2) Grease bottom and sides of 3 loaf pans. Cut heavy brown paper into strips to line pans with a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Generously grease paper strips. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
3) Add lemon and orange peel, red and green cherries, pineapple, pecans, walnuts and crystallized ginger to raisins, tossing to combine.
4) In a separate bowl, sift flour together with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add flour mixture to fruit and nuts and toss until all fruit is lightly coated.
5) Cream butter until light. Add sugar and beat until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each until blended. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup brandy or rum. Mixture will appear curdled but continue on.
6) Add butter-egg mixture to floured fruit, stirring until completely mixed. Batter will be very stiff and you may have to use your hands to assure mixture is properly combined.
7) Turn batter into prepared pans and bake for 3-1/2 to 4 hours, or until cakes are a deep golden brown. Remove pans to a wire rack for cooling. When cakes are lukewarm, slowly pour 1/2 cup brandy over tops allowing it to absorbed as it is poured. Carefully remove cakes from pans and cool completely before wrapping with brandy or rum soaked cheesecloth and plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator or pantry. Pantry storage will require air-tight tins. Allow to sit for 4 to 6 weeks before serving. Yield: 3 loaf cakes.
This post is being linked to How Sweet the Sound - Pink Saturday
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