Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmas and Fruitcake

I am soooo excited! We leave in a few days for a Danube River cruise in Germany and Austria to see the Christmas Markets! We fly into Nuremberg for 3 days then get on a Viking River Cruise from Nuremberg to Regensburg, Melk, Vienna and end in Budapest! Can you just imagine how beautiful it will be? We are hoping for snow! DH is keeping a close watch on the weather forecast and so far (fingers crossed) it looks probable! Yeahhhhh! And think of all the good food... street food at the outdoor markets... hot spiced wine, hot chocolate (is there anything better than European chocolate?), spiced cookies, gingerbread, sausages...... OH MY!

This trip has made forced me into high gear to get everything done for Christmas before we leave. We will be home for Christmas, but just barely! I've been checking off my list for weeks now. Christmas painting and cards finished, addressed and ready to mail. Presents bought online, shipped and wrapped (well.. most of them are wrapped!). Decorations... hmmm.... maybe we'll put up our pop up pre-lit tree one day this week? Baking.... one food gift finished and delivered!

Confession time: I LOVE fruitcake. It's one of those things that you either really love or really hate! I am sad to find that most of my young friends are in the latter category and thus I mourn the eminent demise of the Christmas fruitcake tradition. :(
Since I am in the minority in our family and since every fruitcake recipe makes SEVERAL cakes, I seldom bake fruitcake anymore but do love fruitcake cookies almost as much. I was thinking that this might be THE year to actually bake fruitcake... I could squeeze it in this week and let it steep in bourbon while we are gone to Germany.... hmmmm .... OH! NO! I still have NO OVEN!!!!!!!!!

I'm posting both recipes in case I have readers who also love fruitcake. This is a recipe I've made since the 1970's (OMG, am I REALLY that OLD?) and I'll post my favorite cookie recipe, too.
If you are a new reader, go back to the past couple of years to find LOTS of favorite Christmas cookies... Gingerbread Men, Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, Roll and Decorate Sugar Cookies, Spritz Cookies ... etc....

I'll be e-mailing (hopefully) daily journals from our trip. If you'd like to travel with us to the Christmas Markets, let me know and I'll add you to the list. Meanwhile, I'll be back with more Christmas recipes in a couple of weeks.
Happy Baking!!!

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 lb light brown sugar
1 lb butter
9 eggs
3/4 teaspoon of each: Ground cloves, nutmeg, mace
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 box golden raisins
1/4 lb citron (I ususally omit this!)
1/4 lb candied orange peel
1 lb candied cherries
1 lb candied pineapple
1 lb candied mixed fruit
2 quarts pecans, chopped
1 pint fig preserves (or blackberry)
1/4 cup sweet wine

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line loaf pans or tube pan with greased wax paper or parchment paper.

Chop the fruits and nuts and dredge in 1/2 of the flour in a LARGE container. Combine remaining flour and spices. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add flour alternately with wine. Add creamed mixture to fruit mixture ( I mix with wet hands!).

Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of oven. Bake fruitcakes for 2 1/2 hours. Cool for 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan . Store in airtight container wrapped in bourbon soaked cheese cloth. Every few days, sprinkle a little more bourbon over the cake.. keep in a cool, dark place.
Yield: 3 loaf pans or 1 tube pan and 1 loaf

Helen's notes: Start this cake early! It will get better, the longer it sits! IF I had an oven, I would make it this week for Christmas!

Rum Bars
These are almost as good as Fruitcake!

4 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups candied red cherries, chopped
1 1/2 cups candied pineapple, chopped
Light rum

Grease a 15x10-inch jellyroll pan. Spread 3 cups pecans in the greased pan. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add flour; stirring well. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Combine cherries, pineapple and remaining pecans. Gently press mixture into batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr 15 minutes. Cool slightly; cut into 2x1-inch bars. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle rum over each bar. Store in  airtight container to allow to mellow.. 2 to 3 weeks.
Yield: 6 dozen

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