The Market’s New Dried Provisions Store Had Everything…
Why am I the only person in my household who will eat a traditional fruitcake at Christmas?
I’ve always been in the minority, even growing up: I was the only one to scarf down the dark, heavy, rich fruit cake that my mother religiously prepared year after year. And then no-one – except for me – would deign to eat.
My mom was not a polished cook, but she took this business of making the annual Christmas fruitcake terribly seriously. She went the whole hog, dousing the cake liberally with lashings of my Dad’s Cognac, having first skewered holes throughout the cake to receive the amber liquor. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I liked it so much.
This year I decided to make mini individual fruitcakes for friends and family as a holiday gift. I stole the idea from a friend who did the same many moons ago.
One thing for sure, I’m going to lay off the marzipan (or almond paste as it’s known here in the U.S.). I learned the hard way that Americans aren’t mad keen for marzipan — unlike their European counterparts (think of the Dutch and German with their stollen cake for example)
I’ve never made a cake like this before and I’m not sure how well the recipe will take to adaptation…But here goes:
This recipe calls for an 8x8x3 cake tin….
I’m planning to try and make four individual 2×2 tins. (I guess the math kinda works out.)
Luckily for me, The Head Nut, the new dried provisions and spice store that’s just recently opened at Reading Terminal Market had all the ingredients I needed, including the dried cherries, slivered blanched almonds and candied citrus fruit demanded in the recipe.
One of the best things about this store is that most dry ingredients are housed in massive apothecary-like jars so you can order as much or as little of the product as the recipe requires. No wastage.
slivered blanched almonds, raisins, cherries and candied citrus peel add up to make this one heckuva fruit cake!
The recipe suggests soaking the dried fruit in a cup of brandy. I like the idea of alcohol being used to resuscitate the dried fruit. Returning home, I found I had no brandy in the house, however. I had to text my neighbor who, in medias res, delivered what we both believe to be a bottle of brandy. Neither of us are quite sure how old it is… (Do hope it wasn’t too expensive.)
The ingredients list for this recipe is not as daunting as it first seems.
Most of the items on the lengthy list are different types of dried fruit. After sourcing these, it’s plain sailing. The recipe follows the standard process of creaming butter and sugar then adding flour and liquids intermittently and stirring everything gently during the process. Recipe courtesy of all.recipes.com.
The only thing with subverting a recipe like this is that it’s difficult to figure out how long to cook the cake for (it’s a quarter of the size, so do I divide the original time by 4?) Do I keep the temperature the same. Guess it’s safe to do so because it’s on such a low setting.
I need to consult the oracle — my baking friend and partner in www.phillyfoodlovers.com, Keri White. She’ll know the answer.
No, these are not “meatballs”, as one friend thought when I showed her the photo. These are my mini fruitcakes. You’ll get it once
postscript: Tried 45 minutes, but that wasn’t enough. An hour did the trick. They came out looking great. They now need to spend a month in a cool dark place to mature and then on to the icing!