Preparation / Directions:
Fabulous Holiday Fruitcake (from Susan Purdy's Have Your Cake and Eat it Too)
This recipe is your special reward for buying this book. You will thank me, I promise. This is a fruitcake you can, and will, love. You will make it, serve it, and eat it with pleasure. This fruit- cake never has been or will be, recycled, used to fill a pothole, used to pound nails, used as an anchor. The recipe, rather than the fruitcake itself, will become a heirloom you will pass to your child as I have to mind.
There are two secret ingredients here: the cake and the fruit. A moist, lightly spiced applesauce cake with a fine, flavorful crumb binds a cornucopia of naturally sweet (not candied) dried fruits. Not a red or green one in the lot. Just natural, organic, dried fruits from the natural food store or fine grocery cut up with kitchen shears or chopped with a knife. Try apples, apricots, pears, peaches, pineapple, prunes, dates, black and golden raisins, and currants. Not creative enough? Add dried mango or papaya, or dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries. Candied pineapple is neither medicinal nor chemical in taste; it is the one holdover that I occasionally use. I have avoided nuts because they are so high in fat, and with the great variety of ingredients, I don't miss them. If you wish, you can use halved nuts to garnish the cake top along with the Vanilla Icing Glaze.
A perfect Christmas gift cake, this makes one-stop shopping: You get eight small loaves with this recipe.
Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients; fruitcake is supposed to have a lot of stuff in it.
Advance Preparation: If you have the time, the fruit benefits from macerating for 24 hours in rum or brandy; otherwise mix up the fruit before you make the cakes. Cakes can be wrapped in cloths soaked in brandy or dark rum and stored in tins for (theoretically) several months. I have only kept them soaking up to 1 montth because I prefer to freeze the cakes after aging them in spirit-soaked cloths for 1 week. At holiday time, I am usually rushed, so I often forget the soaking and aging and just bake the cakes, glaze them, wrap airtight in several layers of plastic wrap and a heavy duty plastic zip-lock bag, and freeze. Then you can remove from the freezer, add a ribbon and a recipe card (and if you are feeling ex- pansive, a new loaf pan) and give as gifts. [Susan Purdy]
Special Equipment: 8 small loaf pans (5 1/2 x 3 x 2 1/8 inches; 2 1/4 cup capacity) or 4 average loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches; 5 1/4 cup capacity); wax paper or baking parchment; extra large bowl; muslin, cotton fabric or cheesecloth (optional); metal or plastic boxes for storing cakes (optional)
Temperature and Time 350 degrees F for 60 to 65 minutes for small loaves, 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes for average loaves
1. Twenty-four hours before baking the cakes (or as early on the baking day as possible), assemble all the fruit in a large bowl. Stir in the dark rum or brandy, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
2. Position 2 racks to divide the oven in thirds, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the pans with solid shortening. Cut wax paper or parchment liners to fit inside, and press the papers against the greased pan bottom and sides. Lightly coat the paper with cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl, combine the egg and egg whites, brown sugar, oil, honey, juice, applesauce, vanilla, and grated orange zest or orange flavoring. Whisk, or beat with an electric mixer on low, to blend well. Set a large strainer over the bowl and add both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir and sift the dry ingredients onto the wet. Add the wheat germ. With the whisk, or the mixer at low speed, mix until just blended. Do not overbeat.
4. Stir the spirit-soaked fruit into the batter and blend well. Divide the batter among the prepared pans, filling them about three quarters full. (The batter is very heavy, and while it does rise, it will not overflow the pans.) Bake small loaves for about 60 to 65 minutes and regular loaves for about 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cakes are risen and golden brown on top, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Then tip them gently from the pans, peel off the paper, and set them right side up on wire racks to cool completely.
6. When the cakes are completely cool, if you like, wrap them in rum- or brandy-soaked cloths, place in a heavy-duty zip-lock bags or plastic boxes, and set in a cool, dark location to age for about 1 month. Renew the spirits when they dry out. (Do not attempt to substitute fruit juice for spirits; only alcohol will preserve the cakes.)
7. To glaze the cakes, set them on racks over wax paper. Drizzle some of the glaze on top of each cake, letting it run down the sides. If you wish, place a few nuts in the glaze before it dries. Let sit until the glaze is dried and set, about 30 minutes. When the glaze is hard, you can wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and freeze them, or give them as gifts, or slice and serve.
Vanilla Icing Glaze
1. Whisk together the sugar, liquid and the extract. Add a few more drops of liquid if need to make a glaze soft enough to drip from a