|Fruit Cake and Christmas Cookies|
Makes 2 large cakes
This recipe is adapted from “Florian Fruitcake” in Sarah Leah Chase’s Cold Weather Cooking. For many years this was one of Alexander, Christopher (shown mixing the batter for Christmas 1993 cake) and my Christmas presents to Dad (and sometimes a present for his February 26th birthday as well). Dad died this November, and for the first time in many years I did not make this cake. This recipe makes two very large fruitcakes. Some year I am going to use smaller pans and give as holiday gifts.
I also serve this fruitcake, thinly sliced with an assortment of holiday cookies and clementines for a holiday dessert.
Grease [butter] two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and grease [butter] the paper.
In a very large bowl mix together:
1 ½ pounds pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1 pound candied pineapple, coarsely chopped
1 pound candied whole red cherries [I omit cherries and red dye]
[I add 1 pound candied papaya (available at Whole Foods), coarsely chopped]
Sift together [I omit the sifting part]:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Gradually beat in:
1 cup sugar
and continue beating until the mixture is thick and lemon colored. Add to the fruit mixture and combine well. [Don't lick your fingers --- raw eggs!]
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
To this batter add:
2 pounds pecan halves
and mix with your hands until everything is evenly distributed and well coated with the batter.
Pack the batter into the prepared pans, pressing down lightly [I find I need to press fairly hard to get everything to fit!].
Bake until cake tester [or small skewer] inserted in the center of the cake comes our clean 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours. Cool to room temperature.
Unmold the cakes from the pans. [Soak the cheesecloth in rum, then wring out excess into ramekin.] Place each in the center of a large, doubled piece of:
Sprinkle the cakes with:
½ cup [or more] brandy, rum or spirit of choice [I omit the “sprinkle” - see below - and use brandy]
Wrap in the cloth, [I use a pastry brush to “paint” the cheesecloth with brandy] then wrap again in aluminum foil. Store the cakes at room temperature, sprinkling [again, I use a pastry brush to paint the cheesecloth with brandy] with some more of the brandy or rum every week or so, for 2 to 4 weeks before serving.