Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fruitcake Journey

 
 
 
The journey is complete!  The fruitcake journey. Remember almost 2 months ago when I started the Fruitcake Starter?  A bunch of fruit, sugar and brandy, sitting on my counter making a delicious tasting fruit starter.
 

 
 
I patiently let it sit on my counter.  I think the highlight of my day was stirring it. It really smelled good!!

 
 
The first fruit making the starter gets used for some other purpose.  It's the juice that you need from that first step. 
 
I tried to take Veronica's advice and make jam with that first fruit.  I needed instant pectin which I had never used.  I didn't read the box or really even think about it.  Instant pectin, how hard could it be? 
 
I threw the fruit, sugar, cinnamon and instant pectin together like she said and it didn't resemble jam at all.  AT ALL.  Then the few brain cells clicked together and I realized that I needed to cook the pectin first with water.  I realize now what an incredible idiot I was and quickly threw the whole glop away before anyone knew what did. 
 
Veronica, stop laughing. 
 

 
Ok, back to the fruitcake. After you get your starter liquid, it's time to soak the fruit that you will be using for the fruitcake.   Stirring this daily is harder because not only does it smell really, really good, but it tasted awesome! I couldn't help dipping in early every once in awhile to taste the fruity goodness!  I'm not really a patient person.
 
It was an exciting day when I finally could drain it and make the fruitcake!  Notice how I did remember to keep the liquid as I drained it?  That is the stuff to start your next fruitcake.  Start it, share it, keep it, freeze it, whatever. 
 

 
Veronica has 2 recipes for this fruitcake on her blog.  She has the cream cheese scratch version and the cake batter easy version.  She recommended halving each recipe and making both.  So I did. 
 
We got mixed opinions as to which was better.  The kids and my brother liked the cake batter cake better. It was sweeter than the scratch version and quite tasty.  My friends and I preferred the scratch version.  Veronica described it like it was more the kind of cake that you would like to eat with coffee in the morning.  That really is the best way to describe it.  They were both good but I enjoyed the scratch version better.  I ate way too much of it by the way. 
 

 
Last year I made a gluten free fruitcake that was delicious.  This years fruitcake is not gluten free but I do intend on trying to make a gluten free version next.  Fruitcake is NOT just for the holidays. How awesome would it be to have a fruitcake at your next summer picnic!   So I suggest you get the brandy out of the cupboard and get the starter going. 
 
 



Friendship Fruit Cake
Recipe from Veronica's Cornucopia
This fruit cake takes a month to make, so plan ahead! The starter must be used or frozen within three days of receiving. Keep it frozen until you’re ready to use it.

Day 1
In a large glass bowl, combine:

  • 1 pint friendship fruit starter
  • 1 (16 oz) can sliced peaches with juice, each slice cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
Stir every day for ten days. When not stirring mixture, keep it covered with a splatter guard, paper towel, foil, or a loose lid. Let sit at room temperature. Do not refrigerate it or cover it airtight. A pan of water underneath the jar or bowl will keep the ants out, but I had no problem with bugs since I made mine in the winter.

Day 10
Add:

  • 1 (16 oz) can chunk pineapple with juice, each chunk cut in half
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
Stir every day for ten days.

Day 20
Add:

  • 2 (10 oz) jars maraschino cherries, drained, and each cherry cut in half
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
Stir every day for the final ten days.

Day 30
Drain fruit and reserve it and the liquid. Pour the liquid into three glass pint jars. Save one for yourself for your next fruit cake, and give two to friends, along with a copy of this recipe. Cake must be started within 3 days after receiving the starter or you should freeze the starter to use at a later date. Do not use plastic or metal containers to store liquid.


**If you're like me and don't have glass jars laying around, use small applesauce jars.  They worked perfectly.  Not the big ones that you usually get but they have this smaller size which is too small if you eat a lot of applesauce but perfect if you just want to jar.  :-)


~To make the cake~
Easy version
2 (18.25 oz) yellow or butter recipe golden cake mixes
2 (3.5 oz) boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
8 eggs
2 cups raisins (golden or regular, or a combination)
2 cups chopped nuts
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
Reserved fruit

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 12-cup Bundt pans or four large loaf pans. In a very large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil and eggs. Stir in the raisins, nuts and coconut, and the reserved fruit from the starter. Stir until all ingredients are well combined. The batter will be stiff. Spread batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Sit on wire racks and wait ten minutes before turning them out onto the racks to cool completely. I spray my cakes thoroughly with water while cooling to help make them more moist—the water absorbs and does not change the flavor. Store in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap. Serve at room temperature.

Cream Cheese Version
5 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
8 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups chopped nuts
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
Reserved fruit

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour two 12-cup Bundt pans or 4 large loaf pans; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Beat in the oil. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until incorporated. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients; the batter will be thick. When barely any streaks remain, mix in the raisins, nuts and coconut, and the reserved fruit from the starter stirring well. Scrape batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops. Place the cakes in the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.


**I cut each of these recipes in half and made one bundt pan of each.  Be careful when you halve the recipe, it's easier if you write it out first.





1 comment:

  1. Fabulous darling! So glad it turned out for you! I had another reader whose fruit went bad after she made the starter and then started soaking the fruit in it with the sugar. She was so sad but went ahead and tried again. I'm afraid it might have happened again as the last thing she told me was that the starter itself was fermenting. The only thing I could figure was that it was caused by her not stirring every day. She only stirred every other day. I think that really helps preserve the mixture since the sugar is a preservative. If it doesn't dissolve, it can't work as well to preserve the fruit and liquid. So I'm glad you were a good girl and stirred daily. :) Your cakes look great! I'm interested to hear how your gf one is b/c I have a friend that is gluten-free and I'd love to make one for her.

    ReplyDelete