Oops. I did it again.
Before I get into another fruitcake story, a reminder that Menu For Hope ends this Friday and we’ve already raised $44,000. Or rather, we’ve only raised $44,000. We can do better! Go! Go and bid right now! Just don’t go and bid on what I bid on because I wanna win.
So it turns out that Korean-Americans like my fruitcake. A lot. Had I known that, I might not have offered it because I was kind of hoping I could keep it all for myself. My mom reports that they polished off the fruitcake before they made much of a dent in the pile of four different cookies I’d baked. Rumor has it that my aunt even took seconds. She never takes seconds.
The remnants of my original cake are still aging in my crisper drawer. What’s pictured here and what the Korean fruitcake theives ate is a second version baked strictly according to Steingarten’s original recipe this time. It uses for fruit a pound of candied cherries, a pound of candied pineapple, and a pound of golden raisins, and I used the required lemon extract instead of vanilla. It’s not as delicious as my first attempt but still great. The benefit of this version is that it’s much easier to slice because the cake doesn’t form a heavy crust. The problem is that the crust is where you get that thing where your eyeballs roll into the back of your head. I also found all the cherries too sharply sweet for my taste, though I liked the color that they added. In the end, I think the best cake is something between the two.
FRUITCAKE, FRUITCRACK, #2
Adapted from The Man Who Ate Everything, by Jeffrey Steingarten
Makes 2 large loaves, ideal for triceps presses
May also make 2 large loaves for gifts and one mini-loaf for personal consumption
The recipe reflects a compromise between flavor and ease of slicing. I still prefer the baking method in the first long-baked version, but I’ll use this one in the future to give as gifts—now that I know it’s popular—because it’s much easier to slice and still delicious. Besides, just how delicious should gift fruitcake be? People might break into your house and force you to bake fruitcake at gunpoint. For my own cravings, I plan to put some of the batter into a mini-loaf pan and bake it until well-browned like the first version, then age it and eat it without bothering to slice it. It’s just as good in rabidly torn off chunks as it in slices.
· 1 pound golden raisins
· 1/2 pound chopped dates
· 1/2 pound diced candied pineapple
· 1/4 pound (4 ounces) quartered cherries
· 1/4 pound (4 ounces) diced candied lemon peel
· 1/4 pound (4 ounces) diced candied orange peel
· 1/4 pound (4 ounces) diced candied citron
· 1/4 pound (4 ounces) diced candied ginger (optional)
· 1 pound whole walnut halves
· 1 pound butter (4 sticks), at room temperature
· 1 pound white sugar (2 1/4 cups)
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 6 large eggs
· 1 Tablespoon lemon extract
· 1 pound all-purpose flour (4 cups)
1) Soak dates and raisins overnight in water. Drain. Rinse candied fruit with cold water and drain. Mix all fruits and walnuts in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, including the batter that will be added later.
2) Preheat oven to 300ºF. Grease two large 8-cup loaf pans (and one mini-loaf pan, if desired) with butter or shortening. Line with parchment and grease again. If pans are dark, wrap in foil shiny-side out to prevent a blackened crust.
3) Beat butter until light, gradually add sugar and salt and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in 3 eggs, then the lemon extract, then half the flour, then the last 3 eggs. End with the remaining flour. Beat until combined. Pour the batter into the fruit and nuts, mix thoroughly (easier with hands). Divide the batter between the pans. Batter may reach the top of the pans. That’s fine, as the cakes do not rise much.
4) Bake the cakes 1 hour. Remove them from the oven and wrap or cover tightly in foil, leaving some room at the top to let them rise. Bake another two hours or until the center of the cake has reached 150 degrees. The cakes will look very underdone but should not be liquid by this point. The mini-loaf cake will be done when the center reaches 180 degrees and/or the crust is golden brown.
5) Cool cakes in pans on a rack. Remove cakes from pans, peel off the parchment, and wrap tightly in several layers of airtight plastic or foil and refrigerate at least overnight. Slice off thin slivers with a sharp knife. A non-serrated thin knife such a boning knife works best. Lasts as least several weeks in the refrigerator.