29 June 2013

King Arthur Fruitcake: the prep

Hello all, big apologies for being so late on coming back to the blog! Life sometimes has a way of intruding on cyberspace.

The very last fruitcake I sampled at the end of last year was one of my own making, but not completely: I bought the King Arthur fruitcake mix at the end of the season and decided to make my own. This post will detail how it went.

I bought the kit for $21, wow, a bargain, because it was after Christmas. I don't remember what the original price was and they don't have the kit listed on the website right now. I believe it included all three items shown in the photo below (obviously not the super-cute vintage bowl; that's mine):

The kit consisted of the fruitcake mix (for the cake itself). I took a photo of the ingredients but since I am the worst photo taker EVER, it didn't turn out well. The ingredents are flour, sugar, baking powder, molasses, and "natural flavors."

Next is the dried fruit blend, consisting of the ingredients listing below:

Finally, candied cherries, which were of pretty good quality. Here are the ingredients for them:

The recipe called for halving the cherries, then soaking them and the fruit in water or your liquor of choice. Sounds like a good plan!

Since I always seem to like the taste of cognac/brandy in my fruitcakes, I chose to soak in that, as well as a bit of this:

How can that be bad? And indeed it wasn't. So everybody, in the pool! Here's before:

And here's how they looked after their soak:

The smell, of course, was delicious. The rest of the recipe was quite easy: mix the mix with butter, then fruit, I believe there were some eggs in there, well, let's look at the recipe ingredients list:

A bit of light corn syrup in there. I'm not too happy with that but I'm sure it adds texture and probably moisture to the mix. Here are my fruitcakes, before going in the oven:

And here they are after:

The recipe suggested the following:

Since I had 2 cakes, I figured I'd try to soak with a couple different liquors. And because I like my cakes pretty boozy, I decided that in addition to brushing them with liquor, I'd also soak them in cheesecloth soaked in liquor. Can't hurt, might help with the moistness, yes?

Here's what  I chose for each:

Yup, that's top-shelf Blanton's Bourbon on the right. I received that as a bridal shower gift.Come to think of it, the same girlfriend gave me both of these bottles of booze. What does that say about her impressions of me, that she gives me so much booze? That I'm top-shelf, maybe? But of course I'm her friend from COLLEGE, so conclude what you will from that and the gifts. In any case, what a great friend. So here we go! Cheesecloth in the pot:

(These photos are partly here to show some of the super-cute vintage dishware I've picked up from assorted resale shops. This is a good one, I always make cornbread in it).
In goes the booze:

And the cake is enshrouded:

For one nanosecond in my life, the idea of making my own cheese appealed. To that end, I purchased a few items from New England Cheesemaking Supply. The cheese never happened, but the Butter Muslin (read: cheesecloth) I bought from them is an excellent product. It's as sheer as a cheesecloth but the fiber is smoother and stronger. I don't think I can go back to standard grocery-store cheesecloth after using it:

Anyway, the other cake got its Bourbon wrap, then both of them went into plastic bags for an extended rest in my fridge:

A few weeks later I pulled them out and gave them a try. Why don't I save the photos and details of that in another post?

I'm not sure what the fruitcake season ahead of me is looking like. The siren call of Fiona Cairns' Rich Tamarind fruitcake has been haunting me: the taste was that good. Perhaps I'll veer into making my own? If anyone wants me to review specific fruitcakes, please comment here or on my Facebook page.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Isabelle: do you know anything about the Georgia Fruitcake Company (Womble's)? Their website has disappeared and nobody answers the phone.

Isabelle said...

Hi, I see that! Very strange! I know that they provide to the military--could budget cuts have affected them? I'm hoping they are just gearing up for the holidays or something--I didn't see any articles saying that they were closing. Let me see what I can find.

Gregory Lee said...

Your notes about boozifying this fruitcake made it sound especially interesting, to me, and I started thinking about perhaps enhancing some more ordinary fruitcakes with cognac, bourbon, kirschwasser, or whatever. If you've experimented, or if you've a mind to, I hope you'll write it up for us, sometime.

Anonymous said...

Isabelle, it's almost Thanksgiving. Where are you?