Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Countdown ro Christmas - Cratchet's Christmas Cake

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

Follow Me on Pinterest      

                                                    Older Posts

                  One Year Ago Today:                                                     Two Years Ago Today:
               Pecan Streusel Coffeecake                                                   Baked Indian Pudding     

                    Three Years Ago Today:                                                Four Years Ago Today: 
        Pasta with Broccoli Pesto and Peas                           Cranberry Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce


Ginny said...

We have never had a fruitcake that was any good, but I somehow think the taste and texture of yours would be yummy!

Lynn@Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

I'll bet your fruitcakes are are amazing Mary! Funny, you started out making them to save money, now the ingredients are rather expensive! A real treat for sure:@)

Beverly said...

Ah, thank you for sharing your sweet memory, Mary. Fruitcakes of love.

My husband loves fruitcake. It is well known, and he is often gifted with them. They are really too sweet for me, but but I always have a bite of his.

Kim G. said...

I used to prepare fruit cakes every year... Not this one, but I love your recipe!

From the Kitchen said...

We made our first fruitcake our first year of marriage.
Bourbon was our "soak" because that's what we had. We didn't want to invest in another bottle of something because we were afraid it would go bad before we could use it all up!! Your fruitcake looks delicious and your memory of the making is my Christmas story of the morning.


Tricia @ Saving room for dessert said...

What wonderful memories Mary. I love the rum-soaked idea. My grandmother made a fruit cake that she wrapped in cheesecloth and put in an airtight container stored in the cold basement. Once a day or so she would venture down to the basement and drizzle whiskey on the cake allowing it to soak for a few weeks. Goodness gracious you could smell that cake coming! A small slice for breakfast made the holidays go smoothly .... :)

Susan Lindquist said...

Every holiday season, I pass all the citron and nuts and candied cherries in the produce section and quietly say to myself that I will one day make fruitcakes ... and then, I don't. I am so impressed that you and the Fox have tackled these little gems of Christmas giving! God bless you !

Lori E said...

I wish I had started last month. I love fruit cake but have only made it once with a friend.
We had such fun but it was so expensive.
I love your story though. It is a treasured memory we can tell.

Gloria Baker said...

This look beautiful Mary, really amazing!

Charmaine Anderson said...

I look at your blog now and again and enjoy your recipes. I am 67 and have a blog where I post some recipes also but not strictly. I learned to love fruitcake because my mother only put dried fruit and nuts in them. Fruitcake got a bad name when they started putting those gummy things in it. I got married on Dec. 18 and my mother made fruitcake. I have lost her recipe over the years but yours looks close. I am going to try it.

Rhodesia said...

This sounds fabulous and the added ginger makes my mouth water :-)) Have a good week Diane


My mom made fruitcakes. Fun memories.


Jersey Girl Cooks said...

12 fruitcakes? Wow, that's a lot of cake making. It looks beautiful.

bellini said...

Back in the day I used to make a two toned fruitcake. Years ago it fell out of favour, but i is making a comeback. It news to come back to my kitchen.

SwedishCorner ~ DownUnder...Pernilla said...

I'm not a big fan of fruit cakes, but yours looks yummy :) HPS! Summer greetings from Australia♥ ~Pernilla

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

I believe fruitcake like yours would be so delicious. I remember well the rum aged fruitcakes of days gone by. Thank you for sharing your sweet story and your recipe. Yum.

xo, Jeanne

Abhijit Sarkar said...

very nice blog maam, the details are very instructional and i loved that you have mentioned all the minor details in it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails