Monday, December 19, 2005

Fruitcakes of the world, unite!

I actually like fruitcake. They are an excuse to eat sweetened slightly roasted nuts, and dried fruit infused with bourbon. Mine do not last for months unless they are refrigerated, although they will survive first-class mail, at least they seem to -- my recipients are still alive. Since I am my father and daughter are gluten intolerant (I get offended if you don't tell me to have a WHEAT-FREE holiday... well actually, not, but the "tolerance/intolerance" thing seems like it could be fun.) I make a wheat-free cake, which is nut enchanced. I like it. I wish it would be a little more consistent, since I am _virtually_ certain I performed the recipe exactly the same way last night as I did last week and the batter was runnier.

(Click here for a fine-looking nut-free version.)

To make 2 dozen cupcakes and 4 of those little 3"x6" loaflets:

Do not stint in greasing your pans. You might like to put a sort of rectangular bedsheet in the loaf pans, so you can run a knife along the ends and lift the cakes out by the edges of tinfoil, which of course overlaps the pan edges so there's enough to grab. Cupcake papers are a great invention.
Heat oven to 300 degrees

2 pounds mixed chopped dried fruit: Raisins, currants, dates (yum), dried cherries, apricots, cranberries, figs, APRICOTS (I find I need a little break in the sweetness of it all), crystalized ginger... I hate candied peel, but you may like it.

1 can of concentrated apple juice, plus two or three cans of water (after yesterday, I'd go with 2 and have the third if you need it)

(some bourbon or vodka, to loosen up the spices)

1 or more T cinnamon, and ginger if you haven't used the crystalized form;
1 or more t each cloves, cardamom,some nutmeg, maybe some of that dried grated orange peel

No garlic. Probably onion would be okay.

1/4 c oil, probably not anything strongly flavored.

Put all this in a big bowl and microwave it till the raisins are plump. Or leave to sit overnight.

Meanwhile, whir your Cuisinart through a pound or so of almonds; you want 4 cups of meal, not as fine as cormeal, something like coarse builder's sand.

1 cup of four -- I use a gluten-free mix, and I have to say you can get by with just another cup of almond meal.

1 T baking powder

Salt, perhaps.

Stir up. Let the fruit cool enough that you can add

2 eggs, or maybe three.

Stir everything together. The batter should be goopy, more than say for scones, less than for regular cake. Yet it should flow. And add at least a cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. Spoon into baking containers and top with glacé cherries or more nuts.

Bake about 20 minutes for the cupcakes, until tops are browner, edges pull away from the sides of the loaf pans (another 10 minutes) and things are not too gooey in the middle. Let cool on racks. It's fun to put about a half t of bourbon, or brandy, or whathaveyou (Amaretto or Grand Marnier are good, too) on the cupcakes while they're still in the pan, as it hisses and smells nice.

[Doug and I had a bourbon-tasting last week. Wild Turkey is as rough as Hunter Thompson could have wished, and not a waste on fruitcake (speaking of which, Truman Capote's Christmas Memory is charming, and recommended reading for any fruitcake baker); I like Knob Creek for sipping and Doug preferred the Woodford Reserve. It was a little drier and less orchestrated, more of a chamber music to Knob Creek's lush, but tidy, symphony.]


Juno said...

Hee. Merry wheatless holiday, my dear. And a gluten free new year.

I'm a fruit cake abstainer, but that looks quite good - as you said, it's hard to get upset about alcohol soaked fruit and nuts.

Sara said...

I am right there with you on the fruitcake, LJ. Me? I'm off to the store to BUY a fruitcake. Baking? not so much. I'll take your word on the bourbons though, I'm more a single malt kinda gal. And brandy for the soaking-the-cake part. And, as Bill O'Reilly would NOT say: Happy Holidays!

Laurie said...

I'm not a fruitcake baker, but I really enjoyed Capote's prose. Tnx for the link.