Monday, December 19, 2011

Fruit Cake and Gingerbread House

Happy New Year to all my friends and family.  May you be blessed in the coming year!

Fruit Cake for the holidays!

Oh how I adore fruit cake; the rich flavors and the years of history and tradition surrounding this tasty treat! There are some interesting facts about the history of fruit cakes.  My favorite is the 'Butter Letter', written by Pope Innocent VIII.

The earliest recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash. In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added.
Fruitcakes soon proliferated all over Europe. Recipes varied greatly in different countries throughout the ages, depending on the available ingredients as well as (in some instances) church regulations forbidding the use of butter, regarding the observance of fast. Pope Innocent VIII (1432–1492) finally granted the use of butter, in a written permission known as the 'Butter Letter' or Butterbrief in 1490, giving permission to Saxony to use milk and butter in the North German Stollen fruitcakes.[1]
Starting in the 16th century, sugar from the American Colonies (and the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits) created an excess of candied fruit, thus making fruitcakes more affordable and popular.[2] SOURCE Wikipedia

What a wonderful piece of history! 

I was so inspired to make this delicious fruit cake after Christy from Tools for the Kitchen posted it in my Christmas Cookie Exchange-Linky Party, that I had make one of my own.

This is truly a delicious fruit cake! My mother made it right before Christmas and since then she has eaten every bite…she just couldn't help herself! I made the recipe right before I left for Christmas shopping last week. I wasn't able to be home for the last part of cooking so left the cake in the oven on timer for 30 minutes. It was beautiful when I got home but a bit dry…duh! Never fear…I used about half a bottle of Cointreau to soak the thing and wow, it is delicious! I've been nibbling on it ever since. I can’t wait to see how it tastes in two weeks but you never know, I may not be able to wait!! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
A few years ago while working for a dear friend and owner of Andreas Gourmet Market in Sanibel Florida, I had what I now call the AAFCE; An Amazing Fruit Cake Experience! Andrea was born in Sardinia and a lover of all things delicious and decadent! He was such a pleasure to work with as he shared his love for life and food with abandon. 

One early morning, two days before Christmas Andrea stopped by to share some holiday cheer with the employees…he popped open a bottle of Dom Perignon and instructed me to thinly slice a 55 year old fruitcake, handcrafted  by monks from Italy. At $100 dollars for 5 ounces, you can imagine I was hungry with anticipation. We sipped our champagne together and ate the spicy, sweat cake. The combination of the aged fruit with the bubbly was extraordinary.   I could never have imagined how delicious a 55 year old piece of cake would taste not to mention, the Dom!! It was one of the most memorable moments in my life and a mouthful of Christmas spirit!

I'll note any changes I made due to dry climate and altitude throughout the recipe

Fruit Cake
From the Tools for the Kitchen and the Kitchen of Judy Haftl Naujalis

6 eggs

2 sticks salted butter

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 ½ cups flour, plus 1 tsp

1 TBS vanilla extract

½ pound pecan halves

1 lb red candied cherries

½ lb green candied cherries omitted

½ lb candied pineapple tidbits

½ lb golden raisins

½ cup cognac or brandy (optional) 1-1/2 cups Cointreau

Yield: makes one 10” by 3” cake ring.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a spring-form cake pan with shortening. Line it with parchment or waxed paper and grease it again.
  2. Cover the raisins with water in a small saucepan and bring them to a boil. Remove from heat and allow them to cool. Drain the raisins and spread them over paper towels to dry thoroughly. Place the raisins in a bowl and sprinkle them with a teaspoon of flour. Toss to coat them with the flour.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar with a stand mixer. Blend in the eggs, flour, and vanilla. Select a few pieces of each fruit and a few pecans and reserve them. Add the remaining candied fruit and pecans to the batter and stir them in by hand.
  4. Take the reserved fruit and pecan pieces and arrange them evenly in the bottom of the baking pan. Pour the cake batter over the fruit and pecans.
  5. Cover the pan with foil and bake for one hour at 350°. After one hour, reduce the heat to 300° and remove the foil. Continue baking for two more hours. (cooked mine for 1 hour covered, 30 minutes uncovered )

Remove the fruit cake from the pan immediately after taking the cake out of the oven and remove the paper, too. Allow the fruit cake to cool.

Soaking Fruit Cake with Cognac or Brandy

Place a lint-free cloth on top of a large piece of aluminum foil. Place the fruit cake on the cloth and fold the corners over it so that the cake is enveloped in the cloth. Pour half of the cognac or brandy evenly over the cloth. Carefully flip the cake over and pour the other half over the other side of the cloth to saturate the cloth. Fold the aluminum foil over the cake to seal in the liquor. Wrap the aluminum foil covered cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for two weeks.

My youngest daughter designed a lovely gingerbread house this year and I wanted to share her culinary efforts.  That's her in the front yard!!

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  1. I'm really delighted to be the first to arrive at your post today, sending u my warm wishes! Happy New Year to u, Rebecka!

    Did u say a 55-yr-old cake?? Gosh, I've never heard of it, let alone taste it. Lucky u!

    It has been a pleasure connecting with u & I wish u all the best in 2012!

    Oh, that gingerbread house is impressive! I can't even make one. Lol!

  2. looks very yummy...Happy new year!!!

  3. Your fruitcake looks lovely! And a 55 yrs old fruitcake, I have not heard of this before! Wow, would be really interesting to try a piece!
    The gingerbread house is so beautiful, your daughter is very talented!
    Happy New Year to you and your family and a wonderful 2012!

  4. Hi Shirley, Thank you my friend for your sweet comments. The pleasure has been mine to connect with you as well! Wishing you all the best in 2012♥

    Tips, That looks like a delicious drink in your avatar pic. I'll stop by your blog to check out the recipe! Thanks for visiting and Happy New Year to you as well!

    Joy, what a delight it had been to have met you and spent time getting to know you over the past year! Your support and friendship mean the world to me! Happy New Year♥ I should write a post on the monks that made the fruit cake...very cool stuff!

  5. That is very inspirational stuff. Never known that feeling can be this diversified. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to extend such helpful information on this post.

  6. Looks perfect. Very nicely done fruit cake!

    Spoon and Chopsticks


♥I really appreciate your comments♥


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