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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North Carolina Yam Bake


Fayetteville, North Carolina, on 1814

Fayetteville, North Carolina, on 1814 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got this recipe many years ago from a woman who lived in North Carolina.  It was used often in her home for various holidays as sweet potato and yams were plentiful in that region.  I loved it and found it recently in a Fayetteville, North Carolina church bulletin.   It seems to be the same and I’d like to share it with you.  It will be on our holiday table this year.  It can be served with the main course or used as a dessert with the addition of whipped cream.

INGREDIENTS:

1   2/3 cups half and half
3 cups yams, cooked and mashed
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups sugar (you can use dry sugar substitute in cup for cup measure)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (not imitation)

TOPPING:

1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cups pecans, chopped
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit.  Heat 1 cup half and half with the butter.  Do not scald.  Combine the warm cream and yams in blender, blending until smooth.  Add remaining half and half, eggs, sugar,  salt, spices and vanilla.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a 2 quart casserole.  Blend topping ingredients and top yam mixture with it.  Place casserole dish in baking pan in which hot water has been added (hot water bath).  Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Makes 8 servings.

A small amount of brandy may be added in substitution for some of the half and half.

HOLIDAY SCALLOP APPETIZER


First Course: Scallops

First Course: Scallops (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)

This is a quick and fairly simple appetizer recipe that has been in my family for a while.  It can be used for any number of special occasions and cooks up very quickly.  It has gone over well at Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years and for a variety of other holidays and events.

SCALLOP APPETIZER:

One pound scallops (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1  1/2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 stiffly beaten egg whites

Put thawed (or fresh scallops in large saucepan and just cover with water.  Add salt.  Cover the pan and bring to low boil.  Turn down heat and bring to low simmer.  Simmer slowly for 12 minutes.  Drain scallops and cool.  Cut scallops in halves.  Combine relish, parsley, juice, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise.  Fold in the whipped egg whites.  Top each scallop half with the mayonnaise mixture and place baking sheet under your oven broiler.  Broil scallops for four minutes or until lightly browned.  Serve while still hot.
Makes 24

These are best if made with fresh scallops, but if you must use frozen, they can be found in your supermarket freezer isle.

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!!