Holiday Fruit Cake


An American version of a fruitcake which conta...

An American version of a fruitcake which contains both fruit and nuts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve decided to broach the subject of the dreaded Christmas fruitcake which I know is not all as popular as it was years ago.  I’ll start by giving a brief history of the lowly fruitcake’s origins.

Fruit cake originated, it is believed, in ancient Rome in a much simpler form.  It started to be called ‘fruitcake’ in the Middle Ages when spice, honey and preserved fruits were added to it.  With the discovery of America and the sugars that were produced in the colonies and the abundance of fruits and nuts, the fruitcake began to come into it’s own.  It was now possible to obtain inexpensive sweeteners and many different types of ingredients to add to the cakes.  In the 1700’s nuts were often added to the fruitcake to celebrate good fortune and the abundant harvests.  A great many different types of fruitcakes were produced, varying from light to dark, according to what type of fruits, flours, and nuts were used.  Traditional fruitcake are soaked in liquor to flavor and preserve the cakes,  with brandy and rum being most often used for soaking.  Many fruitcake recipes have been handed down through generations of a family.

The following fruitcake recipe is at least seventy years old.  It is up to you whether you want to further soak the cake with brandy by drizzling it slowly over the top until it is moistened:

1/2 lb. dates, chopped
1/2 lb. dried apricots- chopped
1/2 lb. red and green candied cherries- chopped
1/2 lb. red and green candied pineapple- chopped
1/2 lb. dark raisins
1/2 lb. walnuts – toasted and chopped
1/2 lb. pecans- chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup softened butter
1 orange, juice and grated rind
1 lemon, juice and grated rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons brandy
2 Tablespoons Curacao
2 Tablespoons dark rum

Measure out ingredients in advance for easier preparation.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Thoroughly grease two 8″ x 5″ x 3″ loaf pans.  Dredge the fruit and nuts with flour and set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Sift the remaining flour with spices, baking soda and salt.  Add to the creamed butter and sugar mixture alternating with adding the liquor, spices, and vanilla.  Fold the floured fruit and nuts into the batter.  Pour into prepared loaf pans – put the loaf pans into a large pan of hot water and bake for about 2-2  1/2 hours or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool ten minutes and gently remove cakes to a wire baking rack to further cool.

When cool, fruitcake can be further soaked in brandy or rum by drizzling liquor onto cake and letting it seep in to moisten.
Wrap cakes thoroughly in plastic wrap.  They can be aged for several weeks for flavors to meld.  Good served with cream cheese or butter.

HAPPY BAKING AND HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON.

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Italian Ricotta Pie


Ricotta cheese.

Ricotta cheese. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Usually during this time of year, holiday tables are full of dessert pies made of a variety of fruit fillings.  On our table for Thanksgiving Day is a variety of ethnic dishes including one for this Italian basic ricotta pie.  It’s very rich, but it can be made with part-skim ricotta to cut down a bit on calories.  This is a quick and easy pie to make and should add a very distinct flavor to your holiday meal.

Crust:

 

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks (from large or extra large eggs)

Filling:

2 pounds Ricotta cheese (or part-skim_
1  1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 egg whites (from large or extra large eggs)
2 teaspoons lemon and rind
1  1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (not imitation)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

 

 

For the crust, place 2 cups flour in large mixing bowl with baking powder, stir dry ingredients to blend.  With fork, cut in margarine until small balls form.  Add vanilla and slowly put milk in while blending with fork until ball forms.  Add egg yolks and continue stirring until a large ball forms.  If it is too dry to roll, add just a small amount of milk until of rolling consistency.  Roll out dough onto waxed paper – one for top and one for bottom.  Put half of dough into bottom of 10 inch pie plate.  Reserve other half for top of ricotta pie.

For the filling, in mixer bowl place ricotta cheese, egg whites,  lemon and rind, mix.  Then add the confectioners sugar and vanilla extract.  Blend for approximately 7 minutes of medium speed or until smooth.  Pour into pie crust.  Place reserved pie crust on top of filling and crimp the edges as desired.  Brush top crust lightly with egg white and place four small cuts to vent steam.  Cover edges with aluminum foil to protect rim of pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

Old Hartford Election Cake


Cake!

I’ve decided to share with my readers a recipe for  Election Cake that is interesting in that there are a few very old variations that have not differed too much throughout the years.  The citron has been adjusted and you may use an extract in place of the pure brandy.  Just add 1 teaspoon of the extract instead of the 1/4 cup of brandy.

I’m offering this recipe in honor of the upcoming U.S. elections to be held next Tuesday, November 6th.  This will decide who our  next President will be and will shape the course our nation will take for the next four years.  Even though Election Day is not considered one of the national holidays here in America, it is a day of grave decision and reflection as Americans cast their votes.  If you have a night of poll watching or an election day function to arrange perhaps this cake might be a novel treat to serve to your guests.

OLD HARTFORD ELECTION CAKE

1 Tablespoon margarine (or other shortening)
1 package regular rise yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1  1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup margarine (or other shortening)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 well beaten large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon rind (grated fine)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped citron
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brandy (or omit and use 1 tsp. brandy extract)

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add one tablespoon butter, salt, sugar and 1 1/4 cups of flour, mixing thoroughly.
Set this aside in a warm place to rise overnight. Blend the 1/2 cup of margarine and cup of sugar and beat until light.
Add eggs, raising, citron, lemon rind, lemon extract and juice. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg.
Add this to first mixture, adding some brandy or extract slowly into mix. Combine raised dough with cake dough and pour into greased
pan. Let rise in warm place for one hour or until dough, pressed with finger, indents and is risen. Bake in 350 degree oven for one hour
While the cake is still warm, spread with icing made of confectioners sugar dissolved in enough warm water to make
a spreading consistency.

TO CELEBRATE OUR RIGHT TO VOTE!!