STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nutty as a Fruitcake!

It seems there are fewer and fewer people who like fruitcake these days. I know, I know, it's high calorie and we don't need it. But I DO like it...  I haven't made it for at least five years. My friend Gail M makes it each year and I have been telling her for the past few years that she should try my whole fruit Fruitcake recipe, so we decided to do it together this year. Last Friday was the day. I had purchased all the fruit, and we actually got together on Thursday evening for a while, to do some prep work (necessary with this recipe if you don't want to spend pretty much the entire day doing the cakes).
This recipe is a bit different in that you leave a lot of the fruit whole and it is layered with the batter. Raisins, walnuts and mixed peel are stirred into the batter, and that is layered with dates stuffed with almonds, candied pineapple, whole brazil nuts and whole cherries (I use both red and green). It looks lovely when cut as you see the layers. The recipe makes three good-sized loaves, so Gail and I split the cost, shared the work (and fun!) and the cakes. It certainly went much faster with four hands instead of two. I must credit my friend and former colleague Cari Grierson with this recipe, I got it from her years ago when we taught together. Here is her original recipe and then I'll tell you what I do differently.

Whole Fruit Layered Fruitcake

Fruit to leave whole:
1 lb. dates, stuffed with blanched almonds
1 lb. glazed pineapple, cut in thin slices
1 lb. whole brazil nuts
1 lb. glazed whole cherries (red, green, or 1/2 lb. of each)

Fruit for batter:
Folding in the egg whites
1 1/2 lbs. sultana raisins
1 lb. walnut pieces
1/2 lb. mixed peel

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
7 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
7 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Line 3 large loaf pans with 3 layers of brown paper and then 3 layers of waxed paper. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar, add egg yolks and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla to milk. Sift dry ingds. together. Add  milk and dry ingds. alternately, beginning and ending with dry ingds. Fold in raisins, walnuts and peel. Lastly fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Preheat oven to 250° F.
In your prepared pans, layer batter, stuffed dates, batter, pineapple, batter, brazil nuts, batter, cherries, and batter. Bake at 250°F for 2.5-3 hours. (I place two pans of hot water on the lower oven racks to add some moisture). Let cakes sit one hour before removing from pans. Let cool completely before wrapping in saran wrap and foil. Freeze or place in a cool spot for several weeks before cutting. (Of course you may also wrap in a brandy or rum-soaked cloth before the foil, if you wish.)
Fruit prepared and "divided"

When I made this the first time, years ago, I "ran out" of fruit for the third cake. I guess I had packed the fruit too closely together in the first two. So now I buy a bit more than one pound of each of the "whole" fruit - probably 1 1/4 pounds of each. Then I divide each fruit into three equal "piles", so I have the same amount for each pan (no more running short for the final pan). I do this the previous evening. As well it saves some time to prepare your pans ahead, as it takes a while to do all the layers of paper. Gail did a great job on the papers, while I mixed the batter on Friday.
The only change I make in the batter is that I use more vanilla - I  use 2 teaspoons instead of 1.
When layering the batter and fruit- be careful not to use too much batter - just enough to cover the fruit. You will need a total of 5 layers of batter times 3 pans - 15 layers, so don't be too generous... Better to have a little left for a more generous top layer, than to run out...

Starting the layers...not too much batter!
Layering the whole fruit
Ready for the oven!
Three hours later...  Mmmm, smells sooo good!
 I told Gail the hardest part of making this, is to wait the few weeks before cutting it and sampling.... I figured since I had to wait to taste it, I'd make you wait as well, to see the final photo of it cut and looking so pretty.. but Gail cut hers before wrapping and storing, so here is the "reveal" photo. Of course every slice is not going to be in the perfect spot to cut each fruit exactly in half, but I think it looks pretty yummy- what do you think? Let me know if you try my recipe - I'd love to hear how you like it...

Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive hall;
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas.

~William Robert Spencer


GailM. said...

I loved making the fruitcakes with you. And I love the layering.

I think I will slice up my first of 6 pieces in a couple of weeks when it's my turn to bring an afternoon snack to hand-quilting at the church. I told the ladies about it and everyone is dying to try it. They all like fruitcake.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Oh my gosh, Linda, that is the most delectable fruitcake I have ever seen being prepared!!!!!! A true work of Art!!! Your presentation of photographs are stunning and fit for a magazine!!!

I love fruitcake, by the way!!

Sandra said...

Mmm. I know Cari; I will have to see if she has some made that she will share with the Grand Falls Guild!!
Looks like a good old fashioned English Christmas Cake ( it maybe needs a wee toddy....)

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I LOVE fruit cake, but no one else in my entire famiy does. I never make it because I would eat the WHOLE thing myself. Your recipe sounds so good. I kept a copy...just in case.
Thanks for sharing it

StitchCat said...

How lovely... Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and photos. The fruit cakes look absolutely scrumptious.

Darlene D said...

Wow, I'm one of those that are not really into fruitcake, but they look really yummy! Thanks for sharing!

Colleen G said...

The finished cake looks lovely. I never enjoyed fruitcake growing up, for good reason, having overindulged one Christmas. And now that Mom isn't making it any more, I miss it. I might have to try out that recipe if I can find a compatible friend to share the chopping with. Thanks for sharing your recipe and your friendship.

JennyPennyPoppy said...

Wonderful and delicious looking post Linda. I have to admit to never making fruitcake although I do love a few pieces at Christmas. My Mom continues to make a few loaves for us all every year.

Anonymous said...

Now if you put it in a closed container, add a 1/2 cup of nice brandy ever month for six months, it'll be a real treat. I like like you've made it as well.


Kathy said...

Oh my soul...your fruitcakes are PERFECT!! Acadia would be proud! I am so glad that your picture is here too, working away. Good job.

Wendy Ouellette said...

Oh those cakes look yummy. I have not had time to get mine made this year. If it doesn't get done soon, there may not be any point. Well actually, scratch that last comment...fruitcake is yummy any time of the year. Yours is a new recipe and technique to me. I may have to give it a try. Mm-mm-mm

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