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  • Sunday, September 6, 2009

    Cooking With Deanne Davis

    Heirloom Fruitcake
    Deanne Davis

    (Originally from the Los Angeles Times, adapted by Chef Mike Roy and published in his cookbook, “The Mike Roy Cook Book No.2” and re-adapted by me because no one who cooks is ever satisfied with someone else’s recipe. No matter how good it is.

    This recipe is one of those things that is fabulous. It’s also one of those things that is so time-consuming and expensive to make that as you stand at the cash register in the market and gasp with shock at what this is going to cost, you wonder if it’s too late to just say, “I’m sorry, these aren’t my groceries!” and find someplace new to buy your eggs, milk and Lean Cuisine. It also brings to mind the concept of making an angel food cake by hand, beating a dozen egg whites with a whisk until they are “glossy and fluffy.” Which takes till your arm falls off.

    However, when you give your friends and business associates (we used this as our business gift for years and years and clients/vendors would beg for a fruitcake, whether we had done business with them or not) and then say they devoured it out by the mailbox or secretly in the closet so as not to have to share, you have to know you’re on to something. And this is really something!

    2 lb. candied cherries
    2 lb. candied pineapple
    ½ lb. citron
    ½ lb. candied orange peel
    ½ lb. candied lemon peel
    16 oz. pecans
    2 lb. pitted dates (come already diced, mercifully!)
    2 lb. golden raisins
    1 lb. dark raisins
    1 lb. currants

    And, no, you can’t buy that big thing of mixed candied (glace) fruit because it’s the wrong blend and the pieces are the wrong size.

    Sit down in front of the TV with a big container (a bucket is good or a giant punch bowl) and with a pair of scissors, cut the cherries and pineapple into about three pieces per piece of fruit. Break the pecan halves into a couple of pieces per half and dump the rest of the stuff into the bowl. Now, you’re already sick of this as it has taken over an hour just to do this much. Sit back with a satisfied sigh, though, as the worst is over.

    Add 1 pint (2 cups) of rum and 1 pint of brandy and stir it all together with a big wooden spoon. Cover it with saran wrap and set it in a cool spot for a day or two till you feel like going forward with this project.

    Now, when you’re ready to make fruitcake, fortify yourself with a good breakfast and tell everyone to go away, that you’re going to be busy for a while.

    1 lb. butter (real butter, not margarine, not anything but actual butter)
    1 lb. brown sugar
    1 dozen large eggs
    3 tsp. vanilla
    Juice of 1 large lemon
    Juice of 1 large orange
    4 cups flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. nutmeg
    1 tsp. allspice
    3 heaping tsp. cinnamon
    1 12-oz jar grape jelly
    1 cup brandy

    Disposable loaf pans, parchment paper, pan spray

    Put that lb. of butter in your large electric mixer bowl stick it in the microwave till it’s soft enough to blend (40 sec.) and add the brown sugar and beat till fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Stir in vanilla, lemon juice, and orange juice.

    In another bowl, blend together the dry ingredients and add them a little at a time to your butter mixture.

    You will find that your bowl is full and you’ve still got that jar of grape jelly and cup of brandy to do something about. No problem! Pour the batter into your fruit, which has been sitting peacefully on the kitchen table for the last couple of days and just add the brandy and grape jelly.

    Dough will be very stiff. The only thing you will be able to mix it with will be your own little hands. This will begin to smell delicious right about now, so you know you’re on the right track to making something wonderful.

    Decide how many small disposable loaf pans you’d like to have and how many large ones. As you will be able to totally fill them, you can count on them being of uniform size. Spray them heavily with Pam or your favorite pan spray and then place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the loaf pan and spray that.

    You can end up with easily a dozen of each size. This makes A LOT of fruitcake.

    Fill your pans, bake at 200 degrees until a wood pick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. You’re looking at 2 – 2-1-2 hours.

    Your house will smell divine and everyone will want to know what on earth you’re making!

    Let the cakes cool in the pans and then remove each one onto a sheet of tin foil on which you have placed a sheet of cling wrap. Line up as many of these tin foil sheets as you can, all over the kitchen, as you would like to do the next step on an assembly line basis.

    Combine 1 cup of rum and a cup of brandy and, with a big spoon, ladle some over each cake. It will absorb the liquid. Keep doing this till it’s pooling under the cakes. Wrap each one carefully in its cling wrap and then its tin foil and throw away the loaf pans, unless you’re a glutton for punishment and you want to wash them.

    Go lie down.

    Store your fruitcake for a few weeks and then wrap it in gift paper. I always make this end of October, beginning of November, and keep it till football season is well underway and then wrap it in Christmas wrap. Decide who the lucky people are who will receive your fruitcake and vow to yourself never to make it again. You will, though!