Fruitcake not just for making fun

Published 6:46 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
Fruitcake has taken a beating on the years with countless jokes and stories about the sweet holiday dish. I've even seen parties where the unglorified dessert has been given as a gag gift (no pun intended).
I may be in a minority, but fruitcake isn't one of my favorite things. However, I will bow to the jeweled creation as being a traditional holiday item.
Over the years, I have had some somewhat tasty versions of the cake. I have also taken a bite of some versions that made me quickly reach for a napkin to secretly get rid of the morsel of mortar I've found in my mouth.
Although my mother certainly loves fruitcake, I think she may be the only one in my family that every looked forward to the dessert. To satisfy the rest of the family, she usually gave in and prepared a cold-pack version of the cake.
I ran into my friend Goldie at a local store the other day and she promptly asked for a good fruitcake recipe. I promised to oblige and include some this week. I'm under the impression that this week is pushing the limits on when to prepare the cake for a Christmas feast. Apparently, the cake needs to be drenched several times with some sort of alcoholic beverage to make it super-moist and tasty for the holiday meal.
If you're looking for a good fruitcake recipe, I hope this week's selections will help you make up your mind about the kind of cake you want to prepare. I've included some traditional fruitcake recipes and even a couple of the cold-pack versions that are floating around. Choose the right one for you and your family and you may begin to like fruitcake after all.
And if after reading the recipes you decide that you'd like to leave the cooking to someone else, keep in mind that both Bee Sweet Bakery and Bakies will be taking orders for fruitcake this month.
This first recipe is for those folks who don't like candied fruit but still want to say they've had fruitcake for the holidays. This no-bake version is pretty tasty. For this recipe, you could substitute some of the orange slice candy with different flavors of gumdrops. If you use gumdrops, be sure to leave the black gumdrops in the bag.
No-Bake Fruitcake
2 pounds orange slices candy, chopped
2 pounds pitted dates
2 pounds miniature marshmallows
2 cups chopped nuts
2 pounds graham cracker crumbs
2 cups white sugar
2 cups evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine the orange candy, dates, marshmallows, nuts, graham crackers, sugar, evaporated milk and vanilla. Mix together well and press into regular or molded loaf pans. Chill overnight before slicing.
This next recipe is one similar to the oneI learned to make from my mother. My mother-in-law also makes this kind of fruitcake and it's just about the only kind my husband will even consider trying. This recipe is pretty good and super simple to make. The best part is it never turns out wrong.
Cold-Pack Fruitcake
1 (16 ounce) package graham crackers, crushed
6 ounces red candied cherries, coarsely chopped
6 ounces green candied cherries, coarsely chopped
6 ounces candied pineapple, coarsely chopped
2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Line one 9×5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing wrap to hang over edges a few inches. In a large bowl, combine the graham crackers, red and green cherries, pineapple, pecans, and the sweetened condensed milk, using your hands mix thoroughly. Place mixture into lined pan and cover well. Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight before serving. When ready to serve; invert onto a serving platter, remove pan and plastic wrap, and slice. Store any remaining cake in the freezer.
If you're more inclined to partake of the baked version, this next recipe is probably one of the better ones that I've seen. It calls for a lot of ingredients, but is probably worth the effort and expense.
Granny's Fruitcake
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground cloves
2 tablespoons ground allspice
2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
4 eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup brandy
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups dried mixed fruit
1 1/2 cups butter, melted
1 3/4 cups brandy
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, soda, spices, eggs, lemon rind, vanilla, 1/2 cup brandy, fruit, nuts, and melted butter or margarine. Mix thoroughly. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap cooled cake in foil. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons brandy over the cake every day for two weeks.
The final recipe I'm sharing this week is for another version doesn't call for alcohol. It sounds simple to prepare and is supposed to be tasty. You be the judge.
Old Fashioned Fruit Cake
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (28 ounce) jar prepared mincemeat pie filling
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups candied mixed fruit
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter cake pans, and line with wax paper. Butter the wax paper. Sift the flour with the baking soda. In a large bowl, combine eggs, mincemeat, condensed milk, fruit, and nuts. Fold in dry ingredients. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for two hours, or until center springs back and top is golden brown. Cool. Turn cakes out onto wire rack; remove wax paper.
Get those fruitcakes going now. The further ahead you make the cake the better it's supposed to be.
Next week, I'll include some holiday treat recipes that would be great for any party.
Until then, happy cooking!

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