Sunday, November 30, 2014

Southern Fruitcake

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something pretty controversial: fruitcake gets a bad rap. Yes, I am a supporter of the holiday fruitcake. I have always liked fruitcake, even when I was a kid, and as such, do not get the bad press over this traditional holiday comestible with its beginnings dating back to Ancient Rome. Now, as with any edible, there are good ones and bad ones. Who hasn't had a soggy pie crust, and yet do you blame pie? I think not!  So here, to change your opinion about this unappreciated dessert, is a recipe dating back, not quite as far as Ancient Rome, but to1980. It is a white fruitcake as opposed to the dark molasses-based cakes that tend, in my opinion, to not be quite as good. It's a recipe that Mr. O-P makes annually, slices of which have become a traditional addition to the holiday cookie tray. No one who enters our garland-bedecked doors has left here a fruitcake virgin, and everyone has gone home with a piece or two to enjoy later because, brace yourself, they liked it!

Southern Fruitcake
(As appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 1980)

1-1/2 cups butter, softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
7 large eggs, separated
3 cups plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups (1 pound) candied cherries
2 cups (1 pound) candied pineapple, cut in chunks
1-1/2 cups golden raisins
1-1/2 cups dark raisins
1/2 cup (4 oz.) candied lemon peel
3 cups pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup plus, dark rum or brandy

Special equipment:
10" tube pan
Package of cheesecloth

Preheat oven to 250° F.

Line the bottom, side, and tube of a 10" tube pan with parchment paper.  When pan is lined, spray all parchment with PAM, or a similar product.  Set aside.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks alternately with 3 cups flour.

In a very large mixing bowl, mix all fruits and nuts, and toss with remaining 1/2 cup flour, making sure that all pieces are coated.
Stir the butter/sugar batter into the bowl of mixed fruits and nuts.  
As the batter will be quite stiff, thoroughly mixing the fruits and nuts with the dough cannot be done by an electric mixer; so it must be mixed by hand, although it will be difficult and will take a while.  
The process is complete only when all of the pieces of fruit and nuts are well mixed into the batter.
With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the batter/fruit mixture a little at a time until thoroughly mixed.
Spoon batter into tube pan lined with parchment paper.  Lightly press down on the batter with a spoon or spatula to eliminate any air pockets.

Bake for 2-1/2 to 3 hours until a tester or long tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove pan from oven and place on a rack.  Pour 1/4 cup of rum slowly over cake.  Let cake cool.

When cool, remove the cake from the pan, peel off the paper, and wrap the cake in a few layers of rum- or brandy-soaked cheesecloth.  Store in an air-right container in a cool place to age one or two months, adding additional rum or brandy as needed to keep cloth moist.*

Note: Batter can be baked in paper-lined muffin tins, but reduce baking time to 1-1/2 hours.  It can also be baked in two paper-lined load pans for about 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
*Although the cake does indeed improve with age, it can be eaten at any time.

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La Table De Nana said...

It is gorgeous and very different from mine..thank you,

Marigene said...

Your cake looks delicious even though I am not a fan of fruit cakes as they have citron and raisins, but tried one with just candied cherries, pineapples and was excellent!
Have a great week, Pattie.

Betty said...

I must admit I do like fruitcake but I don't know that I've had a white cake fruitcake. Must try.

The Summer Kitchen Girls said...

I'm a closet fruitcake lover LOL!! I've pinned the recipe because it looks so darn good :) Thanks for the recipe!!

Carole said...

Oooh, Pattie, I do hope you'll swing by to Food on Friday to add this to Christmas Favourites! Cheers from Carole from Carole's Chatter

Mimi said...

We love fruit cake! Just posted a recipe on my own blog last week for an easy version that my dad made for years. I'm making it this morning for a bake sale and hope there is someone out there who isn't afraid to buy it! Looking forward to trying this one.

Alycia Nichols said...

I will admit to liking fruitcake...if it's a good one, and those come few and far between! I like those that are chock full of nuts, raisins and cherries. It's the pineapple that doesn't quite float my boat, I think. But if it's a good one, I'm all over it...pineapple and all!!!

I've never had a white fruitcake. I'm thinking that would be pretty doggone good since molasses isn't my favorite ingredient in this world. I tell you what...just send me one of these cakes and I'll eat it & let you know what I think! :-)

Miz Helen said...

Your Fruitcake reminds me of my Mom, she always made the Fruitcake for the holidays. Your recipe looks delicious. Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you have a great weekend and come back soon!
Miz Helen

ceblain said...

This white fruit cake with just fruit and nuts and no peels is exactly the same as my mother's recipe going back to the 40's. I cannot remember a time when she didn't make at least eight or more full sized fruitcakes the weekend after Thanksgiving to have ready as gifts for family and friends at Christmas. My mom used to wrap her fruitcakes up with cheesecloth and then cotton tea towels (as they used to be called) and then wrapped with another layer of something which must have been waxed paper and then foil when it was available. checking them every week and if they needed additional rum or brandy (she made some of each) she would brush more onto the fruitcakes until the cakes were given away.

We all love this white fruitcake with just candied fruit and the golden raisins, and nuts. Pecans were Mom's first choice too. To this day I love this white fruit cake better than any others that contain spices and peels which are hard and not flavorful at all.
If people who say they don't like fruitcake would make one of these or even taste one made by someone else, I do believe that they would love fruitcake from that time on. Thank you for the trip down Memory Lane. Oh, for real holiday color, my Mom used to make a few of her fruitcakes with both the red and the green candied cherries. So pretty. Looked like stained glass.

Happy New Year.
Cynthia Blain

Unknown said...

I love the traditional fruitcake. This one looks & sounds amazing. I can't wait to buy the ingredients & bake it. Thanks for sharing.