Friday, December 27, 2013

Return to Holiday Fruitcake

Fruitcake
photo from simpleplate.com
A day for FRUITCAKE!

Yes, believe it or not, December 27 is a day that has been set aside to celebrate this oft-loved or hated (depending on your experience) dessert.

Hated?

Apparently.

At least that is what seems to be the case for some misfortunates in my little part of the world in Northern Utah, where dodging fruitcake has become a holiday pastime. I'll admit I've enjoyed the stories of neighbors and friends who laugh over the gifted loaves brought to their doors, chuckling at the idea of how many times their gift has changed hands amongst their neighbors and wondering if they dare re-gift it, lest it end up in the hands of the very first neighbor that actually baked that particular loaf.

For this reason, fruitcake has become something of an endearing and curious mystery to me. I mean, how could a dessert, that is so varied and so long-lived in the history of cooking, have gotten such a bad rap?

Based on my limited (or lacking) research, I'll simply blame it on commercial-mass production. Makers like Hostess and Edemmann's simply didn't get the recipe done right when they boxed up their hastily made loaves, which ultimately ended up in the public-shunning-of-fruitcake to become engrained in society.

Such a shame.

http://www.amazon.com/From-Rivets-Rails-Railroad-Boarding/dp/0615730426/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1388166897&sr=8-1&keywords=rivets+and+rails+cookbookI grew up in a family where women in both my paternal and maternal lineage loved to bake. And thanks to a grandmother who would send the traditional Kennedy family fruitcake at the holidays, I grew up liking and eating fruitcake. The particular Kennedy to which this savory recipe is attributed is my great-grandmother on my father's side, who cooked for numerous railroad workers and travelers in her boarding house, and spent a great deal of time perfecting her fruitcake recipe. Her hand-written cookery journal held at least five different versions.

And she wasn't alone in her yearly undertaking to bake a good holiday fruitcake. Of the hundreds of cookbooks I've read over the years, I've seen as many different recipes.

Surely, a sweet bread that has been baked through multiple centuries is worth delving into at every opportunity. And with the price of nuts and dried fruit these days, each loaf could literally be worth its weight in gold -- just like this recipe I'm sharing below.

Happy National Fruitcake Day! What do you think? Do you love it or leave it?

Here's a link to some fun fruitcake facts from Foodimentary

Ribbon Fruitcake

Dark Part:
yolks of 6 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups browned flour
1 1/2 lb raisins
1/2 lb citron
1/4 lb nuts
2/3 cup whiskey
1 tsp baking soda, dissolved in hot water
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice

Light Part:
whites of 6 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sweet cream
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 lb citron
1 lb chopped almonds
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 tsp rose water
1 tsp lemon extract
1 small slice of sugared orange peel






 

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