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December 8, 2006

What is it with fruitcake?
Posted by Teresa at 11:56 AM * 304 comments

Here’s the deal: the old rule for fruitcake used to be that (a.) you used only confectionery-grade nuts, candied fruit, candied citrus peel, etc.; (b.) you cut the candied fruit and candied peel into thin julienne strips; and (c.) you aged the fruitcake some weeks or months, wrapped in cheesecloth in a tightly lidded container, and periodically doused it with the hootch of your choice.

This produced a moist, mellow fruitcake with well-integrated flavors. The interlocking julienne strips held it togther, so it could be cut into proper thin slices. The julienne strips also meant that a mouthful of cake wouldn’t turn out to consist of a single horrible wodge of denatured maraschino cherry. Finally, the use of confectionery-quality ingredients meant it tasted good.

How you can screw up with fruitcake: 1. Start too late in the year, so that your fruitcake doesn’t mellow properly, and instead turns out nasty, crumbly, and dry. 2. Cheap out on the ingredients, using semi-rancid nuts, the wrong sort of raisins, and wholly denatured “candied fruit chunks”. 3. Use a recipe that calls for the substitution of gum drops. This is an abomination. Also, the melting gumdrops weld the cake into the pan.

My theory about the decline of the fruitcake: When you buy baked goods for your own consumption, you’ll notice adulteration; but you won’t notice it in baked goods you buy to give as presents, and the recipients will be too polite to mention it. Fruitcakes are the definition of baked goods people buy to give away. Adulteration happened. By the time everyone got around to comparing notes on how nasty most commercial fruitcake had become, we’d raised a generation of kids who wouldn’t eat fruitcake on a bet.

I love good fruitcake, myself.

If you’re starting now, or if you like a light fruitcake, or if you just plain don’t like candied fruit and citrus peel, you can do worse than Jo Walton’s Cousin Beryl’s Fruitcake Recipe. It’s great stuff, and it doesn’t require aging. A large wedge of it was our salvation when our train was delayed coming home from Montreal.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on What is it with fruitcake?:
#1 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:27 PM:

Gumdrops?

I refuse to believe such an abomination exists.

#2 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:31 PM:

a single horrible wodge of denatured maraschino cherry

That's why I was traumatized earlier in life. That and there being no soaking-in-booze involved.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:31 PM:

Believe, or I'll tell you about my mother's Christmas Pudding recipe.

#4 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:34 PM:

Use a recipe that calls for the substitution of gum drops.

Gum drops?
Gum drops?

**shudders.**

#5 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:47 PM:

Whoever makes an alleged "fruitcake" with gumdrops instead of fruit should be tried in the Hague for crimes against humanity.

#6 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:48 PM:

You know, I have to make a list of fruit to buy next summer. Most of the recipes you post here are the sort of thing I very much want to do, because it sounds so very interesting, but not necessarily consume, because I am way too picky.
I'm going to spend the rest of winter finding good jars and figuring out the oven.

#7 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:51 PM:

you aged the fruitcake some weeks or months

Woah! Really? I think I see the problem....

Greg "never met a fruitcake that couldn't double as a manhole cover" London

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:54 PM:

I remember the church ladies selling home-made fruitcake when I was a kid. They did this in October, so it had time to age a bit. There were blanched almonds on top. (I remember that much, because we had a picture of about thirty square feet of fruitcakes on our dining-room table.) They got orange juice instead of liquor. I can't say that it's an improvement, but it's safe to serve to kids and teetotallers.

Somewhere in one of the boxes I have a recipe for fruitcake cookies that's an excuse for pecans.

#9 ::: Jay Lake ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:57 PM:

I'm definitely in the "wouldn't eat fruitcake on a bet" category, myself.

#10 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 12:57 PM:

Teresa, I'd managed to miss the recipe containing (oh Goddess help us)...gumdrops?

Another hazard of fruitcakes is failure to chop the fruits finely enough. You get that wodge of cherry because an uncautious baker tossed the container of candied cherry halves straight into the mix. Too lazy to dice the bloody things, I suspect.

Where do you get the fresh citron to candy? I'd love to do my own. The best I've ever had came from a now defunct cooking store, they imported theirs from Israel.

I agree with you on only the best ingredients -- I probably drop $50 to $100 per batch on mine. Fruitcake baking is a weekend project for me, one day spent chopping various ingredients, the next making the batter (standard pound cake really), adding the goodies, and baking the result.

This year I didn't get around to baking mine until November. I usually try to do them Columbus Day weekend, to give the fruitcake a couple of months to mellow. If the scent coming from the tins is any indication, this year's cake should be just right in a couple of weeks.

#11 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:01 PM:

Also, the melting gumdrops weld the cake into the pan.

You say that as though it were a bad thing.

#12 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:02 PM:

There is ONE commercial fruitcake worth trying. It's made by a Scot's company called Walkers (they also make shortbread) and it's macerated in Glenfiddich...

Warning this is a DARK fruitcake and an addictive one.

#13 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:02 PM:

Gumdrops in fruitcake sound horrible. Spice drops in oatmeal cookies, however, are delicious.

I think fruitcake has become one of the food items that are worth eating only if homemade.

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:09 PM:

thirty square feet of fruitcakes on our dining-room table

That, P J, sounds like a scene from a Tim Burton movie.

#15 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:16 PM:

I love Jo's Cousin Beryl's fruitcake version, as it involves neither alcohol nor molasses. Most people don't recognize it as fruitcake, though. I made a dozen of them last year, in little tins, to give to people at work.

"Do you like fruitcake?"
"Ugh! No, I can't stand fruitcake! Why?"
"Ok, I didn't want to give you a fruitcake if you didn't like them. Here's a cherry-cranberry-blueberry cake instead. It doesn't keep as long as a fruitcake, only about a week. Eat it in good health."

(Across office) "Do you like fruitcake?"
"Ooo! I love fruitcake! I'll take Billy's fruitcake, if he doesn't want it."
"All right. Let me get a fruitcake for you. This is a different kind of fruitcake..."
"That's ok, I like all kinds of fruitcake!"
"It doesn't have rum in it, so you need to eat it in less than a week."
"I can do that!"
"OK, enjoy!"
"Hey! This isn't fruitcake! This is the cherry-cranberry stuff you gave Billy!"

#16 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:19 PM:

I've heard of worse abominations than gum drops. I checked the ingredients in a fruitcake in the grocery once, and saw 'candied turnips' as one of the first ingredients. :p

My mother made wonderful fruitcake, although it was so alcoholic that we children were never allowed to eat very much of it.

#17 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:19 PM:

I refuse to believe such an abomination exists.

In a world of spam sushi, deep-fried anything, and energy beer, you have trouble with cheap candy in fruitcake?

#18 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:20 PM:

Also, what's the deal with airline peanuts?

All of your suggestions sound like a good way of making a slighlty less awful fruitcake, but nevertheless something I'd probably still avoid at the holiday dessert table.

#19 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:23 PM:

Cruddy fruitcake is just one of the many atrocities for which the Bush administration should be held accountable.

#20 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:29 PM:

Have fruitcakes caught on in Japan? I can just imagine them made with shredded bits of squid and studded with corn.

Reading Jo's cousin's fruitcake recipe caused me to look up Farenheit in Wikipedia (to find out just why Farenheit degrees are the size they are), and it turns out there are a bunch of competing theories, so naturally some people blame it on Freemasonry.

#21 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:31 PM:

Lori@#12:

Another genuinely good mail-order fruitcake is the Deluxe Fruitcake from the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. High-grade pecans, high-quality candied fruits . . . no hooch, but they supply instructions on their web page for doctoring it. This one has been my family's Definitive Fruitcake for as long as I can remember.

#22 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:32 PM:

It seems to me the really basic problem with fruitcake is a near-total lack of chocolate. That, plus an unnecessary amount of fruit.

I am not certain that Teresa's recipes properly address this issue.

#23 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:41 PM:

Avram,

Here's what I believe to be the best of the Fahrenheit degree explanations.

0 is the coldest temperature that can be achieved using ice/water/salt mixture.

100 is body temperature.

Everything else follows.

#24 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:42 PM:

#22: use Creme de cacao as your sousing liquid.

#25 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:44 PM:

We got Collin Street fruitcakes one year from work. They're definitely Good Fruitcake.

#26 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:46 PM:

There are many varieties of fruitcake, here is one of my favourites.

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:47 PM:

Collins Street? Oh yeah.

You find citrons by keeping a sharp eye out for them at the right time of year (now-ish). Anyone who spots citrons, Buddha's Hand citrons, or other strange citrus fruit in NYC will PLEASE LET ME KNOW at their earliest convenience.

#28 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:49 PM:

Dang. Fragano, that is one weird fruitcake recipe. I now want to try it.

#29 ::: Mel ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 01:51 PM:

I never quite understood the hatred of fruitcake, probably because I've never had a commercial one--but I also haven't found the perfect recipe yet (my perfect fruitcake would be moist and dark, with a rich molasses-spice-rum flavor, and packed with dried fruit and candied orange peel). But what's not to like? Candied/dried fruit, spices, and rum! All good things.

I usually use dried fruit and home-candied orange peel (the stuff you can buy disturbs me). Dried papaya chunks are great in fruitcake--pretty, tasty, and hold their shape well.

This year I'm going to try a variant of Trinidad Black Cake, sans maraschino cherries and with different dried fruit.

#30 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:12 PM:

If you have three weeks to prepare the fruit, and a couple of days to marinate the cake, then Jamaican Black Cake is an awesome alternative to classic fruitcake. My sister's Guyanese in-laws introduced me to it a few years ago and I've been hooked ever since. The fruits are chopped fine and integrate completely into the rich, black cake, which I prefer to chunks or strings of fruit. It's almost like a fruit and rum brownie.

This recipe is pretty close to what I've had.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:14 PM:

TNH #28: That's a traditional Trinidadian black cake. My only complaint about this version is that they're rather stingy with the rum. Other versions suggest an entire bottle. It should be either Jamaica or Demerara rum, btw. No others will do.

#32 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:14 PM:

My mother was a dedicated distributer of simple carbohydrates at Christmas, and had dozens of fruit-cake recipes. The best "normal" one involved applesauce in the batter, and macerating the fruit in brandy for six weeks before baking. She usually baked two or three kinds each year, along with several sorts of cookies and fudge. Subsisting on pancakes made from the screenings of cattle feed during the depression had a long-lasting impact on her cooking habits.

But the one fruitcake which I long for, and could not eat even if I had the recipe for reasons of diabetes and walnut allergy, was basically dates and walnuts layered in a loaf pan and covered with a batter made of eggs, butter, very little flour,and orange zest.

Really good fruit cake is ambrosial; really bad fruitcake is, unfortunatly pervasive.

#33 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:15 PM:

OK, so Fragano beat me to it with his Caribbean variation. They're all good.

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:15 PM:

#13. Question for the group. Just what "spice" is it that is in "spice gumdrops?"

And in other "spice" things where (spice != chili)

* * *

One (new) year I bought, from a drug store sale table, maybe four of those really shabby Hostess (?) fruitcakes for perhaps $.50 each.

I used them as breakfast food, toasting a very thin slice to eat along with cereal and coffee.

#35 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:22 PM:

The gumdrops-in-fruitcake notion sounds like something you'd find in a parody version of Parade magazine.

Or maybe in the real version of Parade magazine, between an article on how celebrities decorate for the holidays and a column by a doctor on telling if your teen is in danger of becoming a goth.

#36 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:26 PM:

Which spices in spice gumdrops? I'm only sure of two: green is spearmint, and purple is clove.

#37 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:28 PM:

#34 -- "Spice Gumdrops" are actually several different flavors and colors.

The most common assortment I've seen is:

White = peppermint
Green = spearmint
Yellow = Clove
Pink = wintergreen
Red = cinnamon

#38 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:32 PM:

#13. Question for the group. Just what "spice" is it that is in "spice gumdrops?"

The same kind of things you get in a "spice cake"--cloves, cinammon, nutmeg, that kind of thing. I have no idea which, or in what combination, though.

#39 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:36 PM:

Licorice. You have to have licorice in a spice gumdrops mixture.

#40 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:38 PM:

Mmmm, wintergreen.

There's wintergreen growing around my grandparents' house, but I hardly go up there anymore. Fresh wintergreen tea is like nothing on earth. Fabulously good.

#41 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:39 PM:

My mother passed on to me a recipe for "unbaked" fruitcake; that is, unbaked in its fruitcake incarnation. The cake part is made of crushed graham crackers or crumbed slightly stale spicecake, laden with good quality candied fruits and nuts and bound together and aged basted in booze. Tasty, and you don't have to worry about burning the outside while the inside stays raw.

This also turns out to be a mighty good method for producing edible sculpture (though it helps to use less fruits and nuts). My first was a dragon tail (having read Farmer Giles of Ham and being warned that real dragon tail was much to dangerous) with marzipan vertebrae, upper scales of green glazed cherries and lower of glazed pineapple and spines of candied orange slices fixed in place with festive frilled toothpicks. The most complicated was a 2 ft tall subtlety of St. Cecilia for the Southern California Early Music Society, with marzipan clothing and organ, and a halo of edible stained glass. It was a little weird having her for dessert, but we did.

My mother, bless her heart, revealed to me at Thanksgiving that she secretly likes those long fruitcake doorstops. She's 91, but not demented, so I guess this is just one of her peculiarities. My father just rolled his eyes, but I promised to bring her one of the locally-baked ones.

#42 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:42 PM:

Fragano #26: The recipe says "Cook over low heat until dark" - I assume they mean starting at first light, right?

#43 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:55 PM:

Being a performer of traditional Irish music, I feel it's my duty to post on this thread the lyrics and modern transcription and a facsimile of the sheet music of "Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake." You make seek out recordings on your own -- there are many. Best played on a slightly out of tune upright at danceable hard-shoe hornpipe tempo.

#44 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 02:56 PM:

My mother in law makes a beautiful English fruit cake, white soaked in sherry. Starts it in August in November it gets sealed in marzipan and royal icing.

Can we add the horror of modern mincemeat to this, as it suffers the same fate, starting with the whole "Where's the meat?" issue.

#45 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 03:05 PM:

I have for several years now made my Meemaw's cranberry-orange cake in lieu of more traditional fruitcake (which I like, in moderation). My brother (who doesn't like traditional fruitcake) accuses me angrily every year of misrepresenting it as fruitcake so that he will decline the gift of one. Why he can't remember from year to year, I'm not sure.

I also have, somewhere, my godmother's recipe for a chocolate-cherry-pecan fruitcake (it, too, is not a traditional fruitcake)--you can too make them with chocolate.

I read Jo Walton's Cousin Beryl's recipe last year, and mean to try it, but if anyone has a really and truly traditional fruitcake (dense and spicy with only enough cake to hold the fruit together, please age for a month or two sort of thing) recipe that they like, I'd love to have one.

#46 ::: Juniper ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 03:13 PM:

The family fruitcake recipe involves about 10 lbs of candied fruit and peel, and quite a bit of booze and spice. It also involves separating the eggs and beating the whites until they are nice and fluffy.

As the penultimate step of the recipe, after all of the lovely boozy cake mix and the lovely fruity goodness have been mixed together in the giant stew pot, and our hands are thoroughly coated in candied fruit, we are required to "fold in eggwhites." This is the point where everyone in the kitchen indulges in a communal giggle and several sips of leftover brandy.

#47 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 03:14 PM:

I agree on Collin Street Bakery fruitcake. I have Aaron Allston to thank for turning me on to them.

Hokay, now where's my fifteen cents?!

#48 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 03:23 PM:

I think candied ginger could pretty much reconcile me to fruitcake. Is candied ginger acceptable?

#49 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Xopher #42: Well they could, or they could mean until the colour of the cake turned dark (which seems to be what is intended, a black cake is very dark).

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 03:31 PM:

Fragano, I was making a joke about how long it takes to carmelize sugar.

#51 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 03:33 PM:

Candied ginger is acceptable if you feel like it should be. So are candied pineapple (the dry, chewy kind, not the gooey stuff that shows up in little plastic tubs this time of year), candied papaya (likewise the dry kind), and dried apricots and cherries (cut up fine, espcially the apricots).

On advantage to using drier candied fruit, as well as simple dried fruit: This is another chance to add booze, because all that dry fruit needs to be moistened up a bit. Besides sherry, other wines good for this included Madeira and Malaga. Also malmsey, if you can get it. Mead works well, too. There's port, if you prefer.

#52 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 03:47 PM:

This post has finally explained to me the puzzling generational difference Americans show towards fruitcake; Under 40's won't touch it, older Americans seem to fall on it like they haven't eaten a decent fruitcake for years. (I'm in the UK).

On Christmas puddings: our family recipe contains carrot. For many years I and my Mum had assumed that this was introduced to the recipe during rationing when sugar was difficult to get hold of. But when I spoke to my Grandmother, it turns out that it was in the recipe when she learnt it in the 20s. I also learnt many of the strange things that went on during rationing, especially if you kept chickens, two of your brothers were farmers, and it turned out that they were building an airbase filled with Americans just down the road.

#53 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 04:18 PM:

#45, Alsafi, I could post my maritimer dark fruit cake in my journal and link you up. It's like a molasses gingerbread pound cake crammed with stuff. It does not come with the aging instructions though.
I also have a white fruitcake recipe of the region and half a dozen of not really fruitcake but close alternatives.


#54 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 04:19 PM:

Mead I can do. I have 25 gallons (yes, you read that right) waiting to bottle: starthistle mead, toyuon (California holly) mead, tanbark oakblossom mead, rhodamel and metheglyn. I'm thinking the lees would do well for a cake.

I've got a recipe I begged off my English teacher in high school, as it was the first edible fruitcake I'd ever had. I'd made it once myself then, but at the time my father had (thankfully, but recently) gone dry and there was no brandy in the house with which to dose it. So I rummaged in the back of the cabinets until I turned up the only spirits left: whiskey and vermouth.

The cake was...good, but strange. And I never tasted that same flavor combination again until twenty odd years later when a friend bought me a Manhattan. As I remarked, memories washing back, "I haven't tasted this in years. But last time it was crunchy."

I'll try to find the recipe, but I'd recommend dosing it with something other than the ingredients for a Manhattan.

#55 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 04:24 PM:

#54 -- I'd be willing to bet the recipe your English teacher gave you was for Emily Dickenson's fruitcake. One of the tearooms in Central Ohio used to make it...fantastic stuff.

It, too, makes a very dark rich fruitcake.

#56 ::: Maud ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 04:25 PM:

One of the best holiday cards I've ever seen featured a smiling woman on the cover, and the caption, "This Christmas I wanted to get you something that you last forever."

On the inside was a perfect image of one of those fruitcakes that arrives at your door in a red-and-green tin covered with Victorian Santas and similar kitsch.

My mother and I stood in the grocery store aisle where we found the card, and howled with laughter.

(My beloved grandmother used to have one of those fruitcakes shipped to us every year. Some brave soul would try a piece or two when it first arrived. And then it would sit untouched on our counter until July or August, when my mother would finally throw it away.)

But you're right, fruitcake can be good. My college roommate once made me a very light, lemony one.

#57 ::: Maud ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 04:26 PM:

Er, "something that WOULD last forever," I mean.

#58 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 04:49 PM:

And there's my dad's fruitbread. All the storebought candied stuff you'd expect in a fruitcake, and walnuts, baked into a rich loaf of bread. Unfortunately, it takes 7 hours to make 2 loaves, so it's become rarer and rarer as we've gotten older...

#59 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 04:51 PM:

There's another concordance of spice drop flavors here.

#60 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:03 PM:

Collin Street is the only good *American* fruitcake.

There's an Italian version, panforte, which seems to be a specialty of the area surrounding Siena. It's a medieval recipe, flat (about 5/8 in [1cm] thick), and comes in several styles: with chocolate dusted on, with figs, and "bianca". Get an artisanal version; stuff from Italian imitators of General Foods (Bellino comes to mind) are quite horrible. The bottoms of all of them are what the ingredient lists insist on calling "wafer", presumably because it's a thin dried sugar paste stamped in a diamond pattern.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:06 PM:

joann @ 61

I bet the bottoms were originally something like almond paste (making them even more medieval).

#62 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:11 PM:

And there is always German Stollen. My dad makes excellent stollen, but we've found most of the store-bought stollen to be quiet good. Aldi's carries a good one, and quite inexpensive.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:18 PM:

Xopher #50: Oh dear, my mistake. I will now hit myself with a wet noodle.

#64 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:22 PM:

Second the recommendation on the Aldi's stollen.

Scary, but maybe not too scary to try:

Dollar Store Penatone

#65 ::: Laurie ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:36 PM:

#10

Lori,

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cosentino's groceries carry the fresh goods, one bin of sheer baking yumminess after another. They've had stuff available since mid-september, and since there's still Pannetone making (and a Portguese version of such I won't attempt to spell the name of), it will continue through the holidays.

And we have fresh citron as well. There are local growers who sell locally.

Tis the season for citrusy things--about a dozen of my Meyer lemons all decided to ripen en masse over the last week.

#66 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:38 PM:

PJ, 61: I'm pretty sure that marzipan has always been too fancy and expensive to use as parchment paper. Besides, it's sticky. It's more like that egg-white-and-sugar stuff on the sides of Provençal nougat, I bet. Probably invented when parchment was expensive and paper hadn't caught on yet.

#67 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:39 PM:

Argh. "It" in my third sentence above refers to the stuff on the bottom of pannetoni. Sorry about that.

#68 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:44 PM:

Teresa @27: One way to find citron is to make friends with Orthodox Jews around Sukkot, when it's used cermonially and whole, and say "Hey, that lumpy citrus fruit you usually throw away? Can I get that when you're done with it?" Unfortunately I think that holiday already happened this year.

I worked in a Kosher kitchen in college, and that was the only time I've ever seen a citron. I was told by the guys I worked with that there was an older woman who lived nearby that collected them from whoever remembered she liked them. She was probably candying them, though I can no longer recall.

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:48 PM:

TexAnne: not marzipan. Cooks.com has a recipe for 'banket' that's almond paste with flour, butter, and eggs, which looks like what I'm thinking of. I can see it being used instead of a pastry shell.

#70 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 05:48 PM:

My family is from Texas (Dad emigrated from there to America) so Collin Street has been a tradition from before I was born. Warning: their pecan pie also has unusual range and striking power. You have been warned.

However, even though I have to avoid fruitcake these days, I still reserve some space for one that can proudly compete with Collin Street. The Camaldolese Benedictine hermits in Big Sur make a brandy soaked and aged fruitcake that has been gaining adherents out here on the West coast. So moist that I suggest leaving it overnight in the refrigerator before cutting it -- that way you actually get slices. And the monks will take regular orders for Christmas delivery through the 19th (the 20th in the West). The Hermitage is literally the farthest into Big Sur that UPS is willing to drive, and they make extra runs this time of year to keep up with the orders.

Truth in advertising notice: It is true that I am an oblate of that community, and this is one of the main forms of income for the Hermitage. But the fruitcakes are that good. Trust me -- they have been causing massive sugar highs for tourists on Highway 1 for decades.

#71 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Our markets here have Sunmaid fruitcake blocks that I find divine and acceptable to eat, they're really nice for breakfast--a lot of fruit, some tasty, moist cake and pecans. And, a plus for me, NO CITRON. Granted I've only had citron in traditional commercial fruitcakes, and never fresh/sugared, but I think the taste of the form I'm familiar with is abhorrent. I'd like to be proven wrong, because I like most citrus flavors more than I like vanilla or chocolate.

#72 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:06 PM:

What would you do with Buddha's Hand citrons? Make candied peels? The fresh form has started showing up at the local farmers market ($6/lb).

(However, the candying process appears to require hours and a hot stove. I think I shall first visit all the local Asian food markets first, to see what they have in the candied fruits section.)

#73 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:11 PM:

PJ: I'd believe banket as a crust, but I don't think it could be rolled thinly enough to serve as a wafer. I wish I had time to make a batch of banket right now. Thanks for the pointer!

#74 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:11 PM:

There is the variety known here as either bishop's cake or stained glass window cake. I love it immoderately, because it consists almost entirely of actual pieces of candied fruit soaked in brandy, and is held together by what appears to be a substance not unlike plum-pudding. It is sliced very thin, and it is extraordinarily beautiful on the plate. Whenever I hint that I would like a present of some for Christmas, my cuisine-savvy relatives always remark that it's wonderful stuff, but a pain and a chore to make, and the bought stuff is dreadful, because the fruit is never good enough. Hey-ho.

#75 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:17 PM:

Yanno, I actually really like commercial fruitcake. I realize this makes me the Hawaiian Shirt Tourist of Yuletide. I'm learning to live with that.

(I also like store-bought eggnog. And wine with a screw-off cap. And the Star Wars prequels. Pardon me, I'ma go reread "Qualities of Experience" now.)

#76 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:26 PM:

#75: Dan, I love wine with a screw-off cap--it's a boon to single people. I don't even count it as a guilty pleasure. (Those would be Little Debbies and Duran Duran.)

#77 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:30 PM:

Claude @70
You're an oblate at New Camaldoli?

Small world. My mother is (or has been - don't know if she still is) their lawyer. I've been addicted to their fruitcake for decades.

#78 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:33 PM:

I've seen Buddha's hands in NYC recently somewhere; Garden of Eden? I think so, the other gourmet place I went to last Saturday that's not Fairway doesn't do fruit.

#79 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 06:48 PM:

TexAnne #66 It's more like that egg-white-and-sugar stuff on the sides of Provençal nougat, I bet.

And like the Italian nougat, too. Same stuff. I'd forgotten that. (Now why did I need a new filling because of a too-hard pizza crust and not because of the Torrone hard divinity>)

#80 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 07:01 PM:

Speaking of Dollar Store Panettone, there's also Cioccolettone (or reasonably near spelling) which we saw a few weeks ago and bought--and ate already. It's pretty good; better than panettone IMO.

#81 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 07:06 PM:

My mother used to make her own stollen; the store-bought variety wasn't available in Kentucky when I was young. I'm not sure what (besides a timely McCall's recipe) triggered this as a family tradition, unless she had enjoyed some during her time in Germany. The stollen was the one bit of fancy baking she ever did.

#82 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 07:11 PM:

My mother followed all of Teresa's rules except the ingredient quality one, because we were very rural and very broke and she was doing well to get her hands on any sort of nuts and candied fruits. However, she was the queen of putting stuff by, so the fruitcakes got made many months in advance and liberally doused with brandy or rum (also cheap, but given enough months, you don't notice). Periodically she would repair furtively to the The Place She Hid The Fruitcakes to turn them in their cheesecloth wraps and reapply more brandy (to the cheesecloth and to herself).

Needless to say, I love fruitcake.

The mincemeat issue IS related. She also made awesome mincemeat, starting from a recipe that says "Take twenty pounds of moose meat..." Nor did she stint of the brandy during the preparation thereof. I found an heirloom stash of quart Mason jars of the stuff (she pressure canned it) some while after her death, which I ate a bite at a time with a spoon, storing the jar in my fridge and keeping the top surface of the mincemeat in the jar under a half inch of brandy to prevent mold.

Needless to say, I don't recognize most of what's sold as mincemeat (it's what, oxidized applesauce and guar gum?) these days.

#83 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 07:42 PM:

"I don't recognize most of what's sold as mincemeat (it's what, oxidized applesauce and guar gum?) these days."
If you're lucky. Some even put lard in to give you a 'meat' effect.

If someone wants to go on an adventure and play with these recipes by all means, go have fun.
http://sucrelefey.livejournal.com/99677.html
http://sucrelefey.livejournal.com/82353.html

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Claude #70: I thought an oblate was a person given in infancy or childhood to be a monk.

#85 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 07:58 PM:

Dan @75, I mildly object to your Hawaiian Shirt Tourist claim. "Loud" Hawaiian Shirt might be better used to make the point I'm assuming you're trying to. The industry here has been trying to sell the nice reverse-print variety to the tourists for quite a while. See Reyns.

#86 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 08:29 PM:

linkmeister,

I mildly object to your Hawaiian Shirt Tourist claim.

do you also object to people characterising spam sushi/musubi as everything that is wrong with the world, as erik olson did in post 17?

i was all set to be indignant about said delicacy (indignant on snob principle, since i eat neither sushi nor pork of any kind), until it was pointed out to me that it's a hawaiian thing. & that it's actually a fascinating cultural phenomenon, melding the cuisine of two of hawai'i's longstanding ethnic groups: japanese & us army.

#87 ::: Mur ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Back in my Alton Brown Whore phase (tried every damn recipe he enthused about), I attempted his fruitcake recipe and was so pleased and surprised that I made it that year for the grandmother-in-law. Major brownie points there.

Haven't made it since - we found that good quality fruits and nuts makes fruitcake an expensive experiment that we can't guarantee will get eaten (considering many people's fear of the stuff).

#88 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:15 PM:

No, absolutely not, if you didn't make the fruitcake yourself, it is unsuitable as a gift. That's the point of fruitcake.

(I used to like fruitcake when I was little and my mother made it every year, but then one day I realized I didn't like it anymore, so she stopped making it.)

#89 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:16 PM:

My sister and I are making Trinidad Black Cake this year. It's so good that a half-dozen of my cousins have had it at their weddings.

We're using a recipe from Naparima Girls High School Cookbook. The fruit is soaking in rum and cherry brandy as we speak.

I've increased the quantity of alcohol as per advice from my aunt, who calls it "drunken fruitcake." I've got a chunk of one of her masterpieces that she gave me when I visited, and will go nibble on it once I post.

#90 ::: Zeborah ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:16 PM:

#82 Now I'm confused - what's mincemeat where you are? I thought it was a long-winded way of saying "mince", and "mince" for me means either fresh (usually cheap) meat ground up (for hamburgers or spaghetti bolognese or whatever) or occasionally, in the right context, dried fruit ground up with lots of sugar added, especially in little pies.

Neither of those seem to quite fit with both moose meat and brandy.

#91 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:27 PM:

Re: #90,

Mincemeat, as sold commercially in the US, is generally the second product you described, dried fruit, with sugar and spices, generally sold in cans or jars, to put in pies.

This product is derived from an older product, which was mince in the first sense (chopped up meat) combined with dried fruit, sugar, and brandy, also to put in pies.

At some point, the meat, and sometimes the alcohol, was dropped from the concept of "mincemeat" in the US, at least for what is sold in stores. So older, homemade recipes are treasured for the original concept of meat, fruit, spice and alcohol. Which, when you think of it, is what a lot of medieval cooking was about.

UK English retains "mince" for both of the modern forms, while US English uses "mincemeat" for the spiced fruit and "ground meat" for the chopped up flesh.

Moose meat would suggest an old recipe from a rural area, where folks still hunt, and moose may be hunted and used for meat. A poor farmer's substitute for ground beef, which would either have to be bought or be the result of butchering a farm animal. (Prior to licensed hunting, a moose might have been shot on principle, since it might go after a farm's crops.)

#92 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:31 PM:

If you have a cookbook of suitable age (or whatever, like Beard's American Cookery), you can find recipes for 'real' mincemeat, with meat and suet and raisins and spices and the whole nine yards (or should it be nine pints?)

It's a lot easier to buy a box of 'Nonesuch'.

#93 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:36 PM:

TexAnne - Well, my personal weakness is for Arbor Mist Blackberry Merlot, which isn't even properly wine, but I've stopped feeling guilty about it too. With the number of paycheck-reducing hobbies I have, I figure a taste for convenience store cuisine is one of the few ways I get close to maintaining solvency.

Linkmeister - Ah, yes. You're right. Chalk it up to a casualty of my lifelong battle against acute adjectivitis. (Those shirts are lovely, though. Do they come in black on black?)

#94 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:42 PM:

TexAnne @ 66

Or like those Mexican sugar-candies with the thin wafer on both sides of the candy; otherwise you couldn't get it off your fingers. (I seem to recall from the last time I met one, a couple of months ago, that it was labelled 'Oblate'. Just to add another use of the term - not unrelated, I'm sure.)

#95 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:46 PM:

Alsafi @ #45, could you please post or link to the chocolate cherry fruitcake recipe?

TW @ #53, could please post or link to your gingerbread recipe?

I love gingerbread. I don't like most dried fruit, but the idea of a chocolate fruit cake intrigues me. I think I will have to experiment a little. If it comes out, I will post the recipe, something along the lines of chocolate, orange-peel, and almond cake doused with Cointreau.

On mincemeat - from what I can tell, it was originally a mixture of meat scraps and dried fruit, heavily seasoned and mixed with brandy to preserve it. I remember reading about it in "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I think. I begged my mother to make me mince pie after I read that, then hated it when actually presented with the dish.

#96 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:54 PM:

We're having our annual holiday party on Sunday, so I made Jo's Aunt Beryl's fruitcake. Won't cut into it until the party, but it came out beautifully as near as I can tell. And the house smelled gorgeous. Now to make the gingerbread, the banana bread, the pumpkin bread and the chocolate bread....

#97 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 09:58 PM:

Just for fun, I Googled on wafers edible - no quotes. It gets a really interesting set of results - the build-an-edible-transistor-model might be good for kids at a convention - and I discovered that edible rice paper is frequently used for bases for things like nougat. One of them - about the third page down - specifically mentions Torrone.

Just sayin'.

#98 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 10:01 PM:
I thought an oblate was a person given in infancy or childhood to be a monk.

You're not mistaken, Xopher. An "oblate" is defined as a person offered or dedicated in some way to God. The original oblati were children offered to religious houses to be raised -- the practice is mentioned in chapter 59 of the Rule. Within a century the practice became increasingly regulated (for example, requiring that oblati be able to choose at puberty whether to stay or leave) and died off. The term came to be applied to one of several types of person residing with a monastic community without vows. This evolved to the current understanding that an oblate is generally a lay person with an officially recognized relationship to a particular Benedictine community. We make promises, not vows as monks do. (What confuses this is that there are some religious orders with the word "oblate" in their title. Not the same thing.) We are obligated to follow the Rule of Benedict as appropriate for someone living in the secular world. Worldwide there are currently about 25,000 Benedictine oblates.

Oblates are different from the associates or tertiaries of other orders in that we are associated not to the Ordinis Sancti Benedicti as a whole but to one specific community -- in my case New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur. Also, oblates are not necessarily Catholics. One example is Kathleen Norris, author of The Cloister Walk who is an oblate and a Presbyterian. (For some reason or another, there are a lot of Presbyterian oblates.) Other well known modern oblates were Jacques Maritain and Dorothy Day.

St. John's Abbey, Collegeville has a good page on oblates. The Camaldolese oblate rule is online, along with the article Shared Solitude by Deborah Smith Douglas , another oblate of New Camaldoli.

#99 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 10:17 PM:

Speaking of how long fruitcake can keep--there is a fruitcake that is exhibited at the Old-Timer's exhibit at our county fair every year. It was baked in 1927.

I make this fruitcake recipe every winter.

Before I made it, I was 100% sure I didn't like fruitcake. Now I know, I just like this fruitcake; others still don't appeal much. People that usually claim to hate fruitcake often like it. Bonus, it is good fresh.

#100 ::: Naomi ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 10:20 PM:

This is the definitive site for good fruitcake fellowship:

http://www.fruitcakesociety.org/

#101 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 10:32 PM:

#95, Magenta I have a basic gingerbread here:
http://sucrelefey.livejournal.com/825.html middle recipe. I'll hunt around for the other ones and add to my general list when the time comes here:
http://sucrelefey.livejournal.com/tag/recipes

#102 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 11:27 PM:

Those of you who can't believe that the "wafer" linings of panforte could actually be fine wheaten pasty must not have seen old panforte recipes that call for the pan to be lined with communion wafers. I've had both kinds of wafer -- they sell the secular baking-supply sort at our local Polish grocery -- and they're quite similar.

I've made panforte many times. Minicon attendees from the first year I helped run programming may recall the perpetual supply of panforte in the Green Room. The principle is fairly simple: take candied citron, citrus peel, and/or melon rind, and dice it finely. Toast and chop almonds and hazelnuts in measure equal to the candied peel or rind. Pinon nuts may also be added to make up the whole. When I'm feeling daring, I add some pistachios.

Take a scant one-sixth as much flour as fruit and nut mixture, and to it add cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and white pepper, or whatever spice mixture you prefer, plus a dab of salt. Sift the flour mixture over the fruit and nuts, and mix them together well. Boil sugar and honey together to make a syrup, then pour it over the fruit, nut, and flour mixture. Mix all together well.

Meanwhile, either line a pan with wafer(s), or grease it, then line it with parchment, then grease the parchment. Press the panforte mixture into the pan. Bake at 300 F. for about half an hour. Turn it out on a cooling rack. If you used parchment, peel it off when the panforte's cool. Dust the whole with confectioner's sugar and seal it in a tightly lidded tin until you can't stand to wait any longer.

Some people put unsweetened chocolate into their panforte nero. It's a subordinate part of the flavoring, not the reason for the thing to exist in the first place.

Some decent-looking recipes for panforte:

Panforte Margherita from the middle of the bell curve.
The same, only better described.
Another unexceptionable Panforte Margherita.
Panforte nero.

T.W (53), please feel encouraged to post your maritimer dark fruit cake recipe here, ditto your white fruitcake recipe and your not really fruitcake recipes. Alternately, a link would be fine.

Stefan Jones (64): "Scary, but maybe not too scary to try: Dollar Store Penatone."

Panettone sometimes gets described as "Italian brioche". The dollar-store kind can be a little dry, but it's generally quite good. Buy it a few days in advance of use. Inside the colorful paper carton, the cake should be sealed inside a plastic bag. Open the bag and splash the cake liberally with a half-cup or more of sherry. Reseal the bag and put the whole thing away for a few days.

Panettone slices, toasted and buttered, are great. It also makes nifty French toast and bread pudding.

TChem (68): "One way to find citron is to make friends with Orthodox Jews around Sukkot, when it's used cermonially and whole, and say 'Hey, that lumpy citrus fruit you usually throw away? Can I get that when you're done with it?'"

Go ahead. Ask my Jewish friends in NYC how often I've offered to take unwanted citrons off their hands after Sukkot. So far I'm batting a big fat zero.

Paula Helm Murray (71): "Granted I've only had citron in traditional commercial fruitcakes, and never fresh/sugared, but I think the taste of the form I'm familiar with is abhorrent. I'd like to be proven wrong, because I like most citrus flavors more than I like vanilla or chocolate."

I've got some hard-candied citron left over from previous years. I'll try it on you and see if you like it.

Kathryn from Sunnyvale (72): "What would you do with Buddha's Hand citrons? Make candied peels? The fresh form has started showing up at the local farmers market ($6/lb)."

(Whimpering sounds.) The cheapest I've ever seen it out here has been $10-$15 per pound (more usually $15), and that's for BHCs in not terribly good condition.

You make candied peels. Wash them well and slice them thinly at right angles to the fingers, starting at the stem end. Follow a standard recipe for candied citrus peel, only leave out the part where you boil it in several changes of water to strip out that nasty citrus peel flavor. Stop at the syrup stage if you want candied peel in syrup, and put it up in bottles while it's still boiling. Otherwise let the syrup concentrate more. Stop before it starts browning. Fish the candied peel out of the syrup, and as soon as it's cool enough to handle, separate the slices and lay them out on boards or jelly roll pans covered with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Turn the slices a few times while they're drying. If you have a gas range that has a pilot light burning all the time, dry them in there.

If you like such things, you can dredge them in decorative colorless large-crystal sugar before they stop being sticky. I don't do it.

Chris Quinones (78): "I've seen Buddha's hands in NYC recently somewhere; Garden of Eden?"

Which one?

#103 ::: Mac ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2006, 11:36 PM:

I love good fruitcake.

My mother was a traditionalist who lovingly candied various things, liberally added dates and dried fruits and various nuts, then wrapped the cakes in cheesecloth and soaked em in whatever strong spirits she had in the pantry.

I, alas, am never that organized far enough ahead of time. I definitely miss good fruitcake, though.

#104 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Greg@7: Bad boy! Your comment is a perfect example of quoting out of context; aging and sousing are irretrievably linked. The recipe my family hasn't made in 40 years (since we started to scatter) involved chopping fruit and nuts for all day the day after Thanksgiving, marinating them in strong liquor until after Sunday church, then adding just enough batter to hold them together; the cakes were left in their disposable pans after baking, with a layer of booze-soaked cheesecloth under a lid (no point in letting it evaporate instead of going into the cake). Robert Ruark, in The Old Man and the Boy, spoke of his family's recipe cake getting weekly doses (even during Prohibition) and being moist until June.

#105 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:45 AM:

Teresa, I posted some links above I just suck at code. Also add this one:
http://sucrelefey.livejournal.com/100420.html
As with most of the old family recipes they are ingredient lists with the assumption you know the correct methods.
And I find pork cake is just really gross, Mamere just used straight lard instead of rendering her own salt pork.

#106 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:56 AM:

Miriam @#86, I should have objected to it at the time, but I think the 3-minute rule has gone into effect at this point.

Actually, we're kinda used to getting ridiculed for our Hormel spam habits, so maybe it just went right past me.

Dan @#93, Black on black, probably not. Green on black, quite possibly.

#107 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:56 AM:

[paraphrasing Carol Carr] If you cannot find citron at the store, you may grow your own: citron seed via Seed Savers Exchange

#108 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 01:53 AM:

My dad loves to bake and is quite good at making panettone. He puts in a little bit of dried papaya. Usually we're lucky enough to get a loaf from him for the holidays, plus we'll buy a loaf of the commercial variety on a whim, and someone else will give us one. It's all good.

#109 ::: Ms. Jen ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 02:47 AM:

TNH - My local market has had Buddha's Hand citron for the last few weeks, if you would like a couple, send me your preferred address and I will ship them to you.

#110 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 03:06 AM:

I know that my mother made fruitcake, both light and dark, but I never liked it much. People who do like such things say that hers is good. I'm just not fond of candied fruit - at all.

I also have to admit to not caring for the traditional Christmas pudding either (brought in flaming, no less). My goal was usually to see how much hard sauce (homemade, which I liked) I could get away with putting on only a very little pudding.

As someone noted above this involved shredded carrots and a lot of suet and raisin-y things. I have the recipe somewhere; my mom got it from my great aunt, I believe. My mother doesn't know where my great aunt got it from, but if she got it from her mother, it came from around Cambridge or the potteries in England, I think.

What we settled on for Christmas desert is trifle. We do not necessarily agree on the recipe; one of my brothers puts bananas in it, which is an abomination. Mine is the result of some years of poking at the recipe and consists of pound cake, creme anglaise, mixed berries (mostly blackberries and raspberries), slivered almonds, and a berry liquer (I used to use Whidbey's, but it's not made any more.)

#111 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 03:15 AM:

Teresa #102

If you like plants, you can grow your own Buddha's Hand Lemon tree. The site says to leave them outdoors in the summer, and bring them indoors during the winter. A friend of mine whose a gardner says these people have good stuff.

#112 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 04:11 AM:

Collin isn't the only good American fruitcake bakery; Slice O Life bakery in Colorado makes them with Palisades peaches.

Address: 105 W. 3rd St., Palisade, CO, USA
Phone: 970/464-0577

#113 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 04:42 AM:

Christmas wouldn't have been Christmas at our house when I was growing up without the Christmas pudding. My mother used a recipe she learned from her mother, heavy with carrots and suet and brown sugar and eggs and flour and spices and sultanas and currants and candied peel and maraschino cherries and blanched whole almonds. One Sunday in mid-November the ingredients would be stirred up in the huge enamel preserving kettle, and everyone in the family got to stir at least once and make a wish. The batter was pretty stiff, and getting it properly stirred took real muscle; the wish tradition was tacitly acknowledged to be my mother's way of getting some help with the stirring. Then the batter would be steamed for hours and hours in the three big tins.

Of course, we didn't do this every year. Those three puddings were for the following three years. Indeed, the three-year cycle was usually overlapped -- that is, the pudding served that year (half at Christmas and half at New Year's dinner) would be the last of the three puddings made in the previous batch. Our Christmas pudding would have aged, wrapped in the fridge, for all that time -- always at least a year, sometimes more than three years -- its flavour getting ever richer with time, deeper, more mysteriously complex.

It would be served, re-steamed, with a simple almond-flavored pour-on white sauce.

I have the recipe here somewhere, but I don't have the equipment to make it, or the persistence to age it properly.

#114 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:18 AM:

I should probably note, in regard to my own note at #107, that I actually abhor citron ("Ack! Ptui!"), and wouldn't grow it in my garden or put it in a fruitcake on a bet.

I've been thinking of caking some fruit for Christmas, and the guidelines in my head for the fruitcake I'd like to make are: 1) NO CITRON!, 2) a light, scant batter, 3)pecans, 4) more pecans, 5) dried stone fruits (peaches, apricots), chopped small, and 6) use Myer's Rum as the alcohol.

(Some people sneer at Myer's Rum, saying it's too sweet and a "dessert" rum. Precisely. It's one of the very few that I can actually drink straight; most rums are far too harsh for me to enjoy. And Myer's is excellent for baking and cooking.)

#115 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:24 AM:

I actually abhor citron ("Ack! Ptui!")

Is there a difference betwen citron and lemon? After all the former is the word for the latter in French.

#116 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:00 AM:

Serge, citron.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:03 AM:

Thanks, Mary. Interesting. The anglophone citron looks like a francophone citron that went thru the same cosmic-ray bath as Ben Grimm.

#118 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:32 AM:

Serge: a citron is what is called an ertog in French, at least in the markets in Montreal.

And TNH: I'm glad the cake was good on the train. Cousin Beryl, who is my first cousin once removed and now over seventy, would be really surprised to see how far her recipe has travelled.

#119 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:37 AM:

An ertog, Jo? Thanks.

#120 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:38 AM:

Serge, Jo: Just to make things complicated, my French-French dictionary calls it a "cédrat."

#121 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:42 AM:

T.W. @ 53: I would love a link to your maritimer dark fruitcake--it sounds wonderful (gingerbread with my family's year-before-last's cane molasses is another one of my holiday baking traditions--candied fruit plus gingerbread could only be terrific).

Dave Luckett @ 74: Stained-glass window cake sounds like what I'm trying to find a recipe for! Do you happen to have the recipe, and would you be willing to share it?

Magenta Griffith @ 95: I will try and dig up the recipe, and post up a link to it when I do. (It will be a good excuse to get me to actually call my godmother.)

#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Citron, ertog, cedrat and lemon... Time for a citrus-related sonnet?

And a partridge in a peartree...

(Of course, people knew already that the French word for 'partridge' is 'perdrix', pronounced, yes, 'peardree'.)

#123 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 11:26 AM:

Colin, my roommate Ny makes an utterly amazing chocolate fruitcake (and other kinds, too).

Chocolate Fruitcake

1 1/2 cups figs (I used Black Mission figs); stemmed,-diced, dried-about 7-1/2
oz
1 c Prunes; pitted and diced
1 c Cherries, pitted and diced
1 c Dates; pitted and diced
1 c raisins, diced
1/2 c Dark rum or spiced rum
3 tb Orange peel; minced
2&1/2 c All-purpose flour; sifted
1 1/2 ts Baking powder
1 1/2 ts Baking soda
3/4 ts Ground cinnamon
3/4 ts grated nutmeg
3/4 ts Salt
2 c sugar
3 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp bland oil
2/3 cup boiling hot water
4 eggs
10 oz Bittersweet (not unsweetened OR semi-sweet chocolate, finely
chopped
1/4 cup cocoa
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c Butter; unsalted, room-temperature

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.

Prepare pans.

Combine fruit and rum.. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sift
flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into medium bowl.

Cream butter and sugar.

Place unsweetend chocolate,cocoa and molasses in a small bowl. Add oil and
boiling water, stir to combine.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Using rubber spatula,
mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Add cocoa mixture and half of fruit, then
remaining dry ingredients, then remaining fruit and chocolate. Spoon batter
into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted near ceeter of cake comes out
with just a few crumbs attached, covering cake loosely with foil if browning
too quickly, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let stand 20 minutes. Turn pan over
onto rack. Let stand 3 minutes; gently lift off pan. Cool completely.

Douse with rum, wrap and let age for at least a couple of weeks.

#124 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 11:27 AM:

And there's citron-the-melon, whereof Bruce produced the link for seeds, not to be confused with citron-the-citrus-fruit. (I know there's things you can make with the melon form, but I'm not going there right now. Maybe after I find the rest of the cookbooks....)

#125 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:22 PM:

According to that Wikipedia article, 'ertog' is actually Hebrew for citron.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love Montreal?

#126 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:28 PM:

Oh, and TexAnne (#76): You can buy a stopper to seal wine bottles for just a couple of bucks at pretty much any wine store, and then you can drink whatever you want, not just what comes in screwtops. I have a handful of stoppers at home - they're useful after dinner parties when you have half a bottle of lots of things left - and I've even used them for prosecco (although I was careful to store the bottle upright, in case the pressure popped the stopper).

#127 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:40 PM:

Debcha: Those are nifty, but even with them, I don't drink fast enough.

#128 ::: Ny Martin ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:45 PM:

Hi, I'm Rachel's roommate Ny, approaching your august company with fear and trembling. A couple friends pointed us to the discussion, and that's my chocolate fruitcake recipe up there (well, one I got from someplace and modified a geat deal), but that's the version I use as a guideline when making fruitcakes for friends. For posting here I should have standardized its presentation and added some notes, so here they are belatedly, with my apologies.

The fruits listed are all dried, *not* candied. The only candied fruit I use in fruitcakes I candy myself. As Ms. Nielsen Hayden said in the original blog entry one should use the best quality ingredients possible. I use Appleton Gold rum, and I often only add part of the last 1/2 cup flour, depending on batter consistency. I usually bake these as several small cakes rather than one large one, and age them wrapped in waxed paper.

And I'll be quiet now. Sorry for the incomplete recipe.

#129 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 12:54 PM:

When I have time I make a rather nice currant cake for Christmas, using a basic pound-cakish recipe with a little less flour and adding currants soaked in peach wine; the cakes are soaked in more wine while warm (a few skewer holes help with this), wrapped in wine-soaked cheesecloth and kept cool.

#130 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 02:09 PM:

Is it terribly geek of me that whenever I hear "oblate" I have the image of someone as a slightly flattened oval?

I've made real fruitcake too, years ago. The Joy of Cooking has a pretty good recipe, including the marinating in brandy or other spirits, and we made a huge batch to give as gifts to friends and family. It was incredibly good, but turned out to be a lot of work and not at all cheap when you factored in the price of good quality ingredients and decent brandy.

Ny, most of us are in no way august and have been welcomed here nonetheless. Join the crowd!

#131 ::: Arwen ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 03:12 PM:

Teresa (or anyone else who might know), where in NYC might I find confectionery-grade candied fruits and peels? I abhor that stuff in the plastic tubs, and even New York Cake Supply only seems to sell that. Ditto the Garden of Eden across from the Malibu. I think I want to make my Stollen this year, and it would be so nice to use good stuff!

#132 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 03:52 PM:

Ny @128

Many of this company are august. I've occasionally managed july, myself, but frequently get no better than may. I'm probably somewhere in march at present.

TNH is very december, and the late John Ford was several invented months beyond the year end.

Based on your recipe, I'd place you at september at the worst.

#133 ::: Tiff ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 04:52 PM:

My mum makes a good fruit cake. The only thing she gets wrong (in my opinion) is putting marzipan and icing on it. Try it with thin slices of wenslydale cheese. It's cakey heaven.

#134 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:11 PM:

abi @ 132

ROFLMAO (from somewhere around February, I think ...)

#135 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Serge #122: C'est possible, donc, manger du perdrix et boire du Peardrax....

#136 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:19 PM:

Abi #132: The story is told that an impoverished Russian nobleman, back in the days of Nicholas I, seeking a place in the military academy for his son wrote to the Tsar requesting a scholarship for his lad. The nobleman was not well-educated, but he had heard the Tsar referred to as 'August Sovereign' so, since it was autumn, he addressed his missive to the 'September Sovereign'. Nicholas is said to have instructed his minister to give the boy a place lest he grow up as big a fool as his father.

#137 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:21 PM:

Fragano @136

I think that puts me at April, then? It's an advance over March, which is mere madness.

#138 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:24 PM:

(In case you're wondering if that sounded offended, Fragano, not in the least).

#139 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:25 PM:

Abi #137: I oscillate between February (ask any of my students) and July....

#140 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 05:44 PM:

"Oblate" in the food sense: oblaten are wafers that somehow manage to have a filling in the middle of what seems like a maximum of a millimeter thick. Very good, very old-fashioned. Just to ruin the day of any geometric purists, they're circular, not oval.

In other news, I made a molasses-based gingerbread yesterday (while I was posting about panforte, in fact). The recipe comes from the _Crabtree and Evelyn Cookbook_ and seems to be foolproof (I've used it for 10-15 years now) but may give people pause with the addition of the boiling water and baking soda mixture.

Teresa, thank you for your meditation on panforte.

#141 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 06:56 PM:

Mur @ 87 - I've made that fruitcake recipe with good results as well, although I switched around the fruit. It's moderatly expensive to make, but if you get the dried fruit at Trader Joe's, it's not too costly. Another virtue of this recipe is that it can be eaten after only a touch of aging, but can also mature. I dose the thing with good Bourbon, though.

Ursula @91 - When I was little, my mom made real mince pies, probably one of the last vestigies of our English heritage. I really prefer the kind with the meat - not vegetarian friendly, but still.

#142 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 07:50 PM:

Ah, but Clifton (#130), which edition of "Joy?" Much ado has been made of the various and sundry versions. I think I bought the non-Becker-approved one a few years back (as a supplement! as a supplement!) and our original was promptly given away to someone who expressed an interest. I've been gnashing my teeth ever since.

Ny, if this group were truly august, they wouldn't let me comment at all. Very democratic, Making Light.

#143 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:02 PM:

Fragano (#139): I fear my students may think of me as april (the cruelest month), but since I am spending my entire weekend editing final project reports, I can only think of myself as march, march, march!

#144 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:08 PM:

debcha #143: I see your point. And I've raised some lilacs from the dead land. However, they're more likely to think of me as cold than cruel.

#145 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:44 PM:

"Oblaten" are also strange papery disks that are sold in German groceries, and used as the base for cookies. Completely edible, and completely bland and tasteless.

When you buy packaged lebkuchen, it often comes on oblaten. I think it makes baking easier, since it prevents the baked goods from sticking to the pan.

#146 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 09:57 PM:

Now if only I could figure out where I packed that recipe I used a few years back.

Ah heck, I don't think I wrote it down anyway. It went something like this:

Start in October.

About two pounds of dried (not candied) fruits (dark and golden raisins, apricots, pineapple, papaya, I think I had dried cherries that year and I can't recall what else, not like it matters.)
Put in wok, pour in rum to cover it, seal with plastic.
Ignore for a couple of days.
About a pound of shelled nutmeats (almonds, filberts, pecans, whatever.)
Dump those in the fruit and rum.
Give a good stir, recover and ignore a couple more days.
Add more rum if it looks dry.
Preheat oven to 350F.
In largest bowl (bigger than wok) sift together - flour, ginger, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, soda. The ratio was about 1 cup flour per 2 lb goodies, spices widely adjustable to taste, 1/4 tsp soda to 1 cup flour so it thinks about rising, then rolls over and pulls the blanket over its head instead.

In medium small bowl, beat two eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, and some vanilla extract.

Dump wet fruit and nut mixture from wok into floury mess. Stir well until wet fruit is coated with flour. There should be some loose flour in the largest bowl but not much. Add more flour if it seems prudent, then stir the egg-sugar glop in by spoonfulls. The batter should be sticky, dense and very lumpy - chunks of fruit and nut with just enough batter to coat them.

Put into pans, bake at medium heat until toothpick comes out clean. Anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes for mini loaves to twice that for a big pan.

Cool completely in pan, then soak in rum. I think I wrapped them in aluminum foil since I didn't have cheesecloth.
Store in cool basement or bottom drawer of the fridge for at least a month. If it starts looking dry, sprinkle with rum.

If you have any rum left at the end of the recipe, you should have used more rum.

#147 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2006, 11:10 PM:

abi @ 132, Fragano @ 136:

It's very rare that I actually laugh out loud at the computer. Thank you. :)

Being as I prefer equinoxes (equinocti?) to solstices, I'm either April or October. :)

#148 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:17 AM:

Ursula #91:

Mincemeat, as sold commercially in the US, is generally the second product you described, dried fruit, with sugar and spices, generally sold in cans or jars, to put in pies.

Exactly. Except that I did not know, until I was an adult, that such a product existed. It strikes me as very odd, like selling an empty pie shell and calling it a pie. Why would you sell a product that only contains half its ingredients?

This product is derived from an older product, which was mince in the first sense (chopped up meat) combined with dried fruit, sugar, and brandy, also to put in pies.

Yes. Although to complicate matters, my mother's mince meat (which did contain dried apples and raisins in great quantity along with the meat and suet and whatnot) was so rich and flavorful that -- although she used it undiluted in mince-filled Christmas cookies -- she tended to "cut" it with applesauce when making pies.

Moose meat would suggest an old recipe from a rural area, where folks still hunt, and moose may be hunted and used for meat.

In my mother's hand, the recipe actually says "moose or beef or any red meat." Whether Mom originally had an older printed recipe or was doing it as taught, I don't know.

A poor farmer's substitute for ground beef, which would either have to be bought or be the result of butchering a farm animal.

I'll quibble gently here, since in most places where moose flourish, farms don't. Certainly in the part of Alaska where I grew up, moose were plentiful and farms were not, due to an inadequate growing season. Perhaps it's different in Maine or bits of Canada.

A more important quibble is that in my family at least, moose was never considered a substitute for beef. Quite the contrary; beef (frozen and imported via air freight) was considered a flavorless and expensive and generally inadequate substitute for moose, when moose could not be had. I've grown used to beef in my adulthood, but I still consider it rather bland.

#149 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:54 AM:

All I know of moose meat is that it makes great beer sausage.

#150 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 03:00 AM:

#121 Asafi: Stained glass window cake: Alas, alas, I never had the recipe, and nobody seems to know it now. There's some recipes given on the net, but they call for red and green glace cherries, and that can't be right.

#151 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 05:21 AM:

Theresa

'proper thin slices' As a card carrying Type 2 insulin pen weilding diabetic, I'm here to tell you that any slice of fruitcake is WAY too thin. The slice is for you, and the rest is for me.

You know we leos have to sleep after a meal.

#152 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:09 AM:

Re #148: "I'll quibble gently here, since in most places where moose flourish, farms don't. Certainly in the part of Alaska where I grew up, moose were plentiful and farms were not, due to an inadequate growing season. Perhaps it's different in Maine or bits of Canada.

A more important quibble is that in my family at least, moose was never considered a substitute for beef. Quite the contrary; beef (frozen and imported via air freight) was considered a flavorless and expensive and generally inadequate substitute for moose, when moose could not be had. I've grown used to beef in my adulthood, but I still consider it rather bland."

I was thinking back a few more generations. The moose range has been pushed north by increasing population, but they still get as far south as northern New York these days, which, 150-200 years ago, was heavily agricultural. Combine greater agriculture in the northern/northeastern states, and less population to drive them north, and you've got moose interfering with agriculture.

#153 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 10:21 AM:

One of the meat-containing mince recipes I've seen uses venison, or says that it originally used venison.

#154 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 12:50 PM:

A news item from 2003 regarding a 125-year-old fruitcake that Jay Leno was going to be sampling on television.

Leno's still alive, so I guess the fruitcake was still edible.

(via an old post at John & Belle Have A Blog that not only includes a good-sounding [except for the ack! ptui! citron] recipe for Black Fruitcake, but also introduces the useful word "indenstible".)

#155 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 12:53 PM:

Linkmeister: Belated response to your question - this probably would have been the '70s edition of Joy of Cooking which I got in college. (I do recall it was the edition which had the insanely delicious "Pork Chops Baked in Sour Cream" recipe, which has dropped out of later versions.)

I believe what I made might have been the recipe listed as "Dark Fruitcake II" in the version I have now. At any rate the overview of the fruitcake section gives the right general info on approach (though it fails to adequately warn against junk candied fruit.)

#156 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 01:37 PM:

"I do recall it was the edition which had the insanely delicious "Pork Chops Baked in Sour Cream" recipe, which has dropped out of later versions."

My copy of JofC is a 1979 printing of the 1975 edition. No "Pork Chops Baked In Sour Cream". (Darn. Sounded good.)

#157 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Not fruitcake in the US sense, but here's my father's recipe for Stollen, which is quite easy, and utterly delicious. If made now, it should be good to eat by Christmas. The metric measurements are from the original recipe, the US measurments are what he uses when buying the goods in the US, based on the packaging available.

Quarkstollen: Ingo’s lazy Recipe

Modified from: Dr. Oetkers ‘Weihnachtliches Backen’, page 22
The original recipe was doubled to 1000 g flour. The amount of ingredients can be changed according to availability and taste.
The fruit-mixture can be prepared ahead of time (days):
In a bowl combine:

Oz Gram
0.5 oz/ 250 g Currents or red raisins
1.0 lb/ 500 g White raisins
0.5 lb/ 250 g Candied Fruits
½ cup Rum

This mixture should soak until used, may be used right away or kept covered for several days until to be used.

On day of baking: Mix the following ingredients:

Oz Gram
2.5 lb/ 1000 g Flour
0.7 lb/ 300 g Ground almonds
2 packages Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Ground cardamom
½ tsp Ground Muscat

(Ursula's note: the packages of baking powder are the Dr. Oetker brand packets, which are sold in the German food section of the ethnic section of the grocery store. About a teaspoon per packet, I think. Muscat is, I belive, nutmeg.)

Mix in Food Processor: in given order, thoroughly mixing after each addition:

Oz Gram
3 quarters/ 350 g Butter or Margarine
0.8 oz/ 350 g Sugar
4 Eggs
2 tsp Almond Extract
2 tsp Lemon Extract
1 lb Cottage cheese, fine curd


(Ursula's note: by "3 quarters butter" he means three sticks of butter, three quarters of a US box.)
Mix:

1. Blend ingredients in flour bowl well
2. Add butter mixture and gently mix with some of the flour
3. Add the fruit mixture, cover with flour, then mix with a strong spoon until well mixed.
4. Then knead with hands into a ball
5. Put on a floured board or table, keep kneading, if dough is too soft, add flour, if too hard, add a few drops of liquid.
6. Cut ball up into desired sizes, form into loaves.
a. If a standard loaf is desired, grease a flat rectangular pan, cover with wax paper or parchment, put loaf on it.
b. If a narrow bread-like loaf is desired, grease loaf-pan, cover inside with wax paper or parchment, put loaf into it.
7. Bake at 350F in pre-heated oven.
8. A big loaf may take up to one hour. Smaller loafs may take longer.
9. Tip:
a. Set timer for 40 minutes, check if done
b. Continue baking with timer set into 5 or 10 min. Intervals.
10. While the loaves are still warm,
a. Brush with melted butter
b. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

The Stollen tastes best when it had some weeks rest to have the flavors meld together. Eventually, sprinkle with more powdered sugar to revitalize the looks.

#158 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 07:18 PM:

Oh - the candied fruits are generally plain candied citron and candied lemon and/or orange peel - none of the weird colored stuff.

#159 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 09:12 PM:

The stained glass cake I'm familiar with uses Jell-O.

#160 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 10:23 PM:

Going off on a tangent - I made stained glass cookies at one point. Standard sugar cookie recipe, festive shapes with middles cut out, well greased cookie sheets, cutouts filled with transparent hard candies broken up, in a variety of colors. Pretty and tasty, but a lot of work and a significant failure rate (breakage - of course we ate them anyway).

#161 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 10:33 PM:

Ms. Jen, how much per pound are those BHCs? And do you have a PayPal account?

#162 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 10:38 PM:

From my old JOC with the missing cover!

Pork Chops Baked in Sour Cream
4 Servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees [F].
Dredge:
4 loin pork chops: 1/2 inch thick
with:
Seasoned flour or bread crumbs
Insert in each chop:
1 clove
Brown lightly in a little hot pork fat or lard. Place in a baking dish. Combine, heat, and pour over the meat:
1/2 cup water or stock
1/2 bay leaf
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup cultured sour cream
(1/4 teaspoon summer savory)
Bake the chops covered for about 1 hour.

#163 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:01 PM:

Somewhat on the opposite end from fruitcake, but does anybody have a good biscotti receipe? I'd like to make some for my sister-in-law for Christmas.

#164 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:09 PM:

Bruce, there is no such thing as too much citron. It's only marginally possible to have enough citron. I'll take yours.

Serge (117), if a regular citron looks like Ben Grimm, which superhero does Buddha's Hand Citron look like?

TexAnne (120), the non-Tuscans who sold me citrons at an informal roadside fruit stand in Italy called them something like "cedra".

P J (124), citron-the-melon gets its rind candied just like the citrus fruit.

Ny Martin (128), thank you for the amendments, and do please come back sometime.

Arwen (131), I'm afraid I'm completely useless to you -- I make my own. It's not hard. Honest.

If you can't get into that idea, try Trader Joe's on 14th Street, east of Union Square.

Bruce (154), that piece about the fruitcake sounds like one of Jo's stories:

"The cake rests in a glass bowl, covered by a glass top. A large raisin and what might be a clove are visible among the brown mass -- Ford says it's fossilized -- that emits a pleasant odor of spices.

Its baker died in Berkey, Ohio, in 1879 and the cake remained untouched for 85 years.

Not much is known about the origin of the cake; even the recipe is lost."

She baked it and put it in a lidded glass dish -- to age and cure it, I assume -- but then she died, and no one did anything with it for the better part of a century. It makes me wonder what other fruitcakes have languished for years in their particular little stash-spots, waiting for a cook that never comes back.

#165 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:20 PM:

Off the topic: One of the things I've done this weekend is render down beef suet. I asked the butcher at Fairway for some when I bought my beef for the next two weeks, and he surprised me by very obligingly trimming off several large slabs of it.

The ladies at the checkout lines are always puzzled by suet, and ask me what you can do with it. I tell them you can hang a piece out for the winter birds, or shred it fine for steamed puddings and dumplings; or, like me, you can use it when you cook beef. A cheap hanger steak cooked at high temperature in a bit of beef dripping makes a good supper.

Thanks to my butcher's largesse, I now have five half-pint containers of rendered beef fat in my freezer. I doubt I'll get through them in a year.

#166 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:36 PM:

Rachel@147: Equinoctes.

#167 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2006, 11:56 PM:

Teresa asked at #164:
"Serge (117), if a regular citron looks like Ben Grimm, which superhero does Buddha's Hand Citron look like?"

I see a definite resemblance to this fellow.

#168 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 12:05 AM:

Jello in stained glass window cake?

Um. No.

#169 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 09:29 AM:

Fruitcake is about as alien to my heritage as a Christmas Ham, and perhaps that's why I seem to enjoy it so much more than those for whom it was a childhood annual curse, the sticky/crumbly drawback of the holiday season. It would make sense, as while I enjoy, for instance, matzah, I don't find myself putting it on the shopping list when I finish that last box sometime in late fall, which certain other persons do.

Mrs. NH: I will investigate my neighborhood sources for Citron and BH Citron. If I manage to put hands thereupon, I would be willing to trade (through channels) for home-rendered suet. Post with results of my investigation to follow.

#170 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 10:36 AM:

oliviacw @ 163

There's one in Cook's Illustrated (three flavors), but I can't (off the top of my head) remember if it's the Holiday Baking issue or the one with the lemons on the front cover that's just about to hit the newsstand.

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 10:53 AM:

Teresa, all I could think of in regard to citron-the-melon was pickled melon rind, and I was sure that wasn't what was wanted.

#172 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 10:56 AM:

For sturdier (though more technically demanding) stained glass cookies, make the cookie frames nice and thick and bake them completely. Let cool. Lay out on buttered foil. Meanwhile, get out your candy thermometer and make hard candy. (Okay, you don't need the thermometer if you can accurately test to hard crack stage by hand.) Use any standard hard candy or lollipop recipe, work quickly and in small batches. Color (and flavor if desired) appropriately and pour into cookie frames and cool. Peel off foil and admire. This will produce edible stained glass up to 3/8 inch thick (probably thicker), though for small projects I prefer 1/4 inch. This is how, with the help of picture frames, we were able to make 16x20 pictures that withstood being held up and displayed. This also prevents the crushed candy getting burnt while the cookie dough is underdone, or vice versa.

My favorite cookie dough for the elaborate projects is my grandmother's lebkuchen, minus the fruit and nuts (and oblaten), hardened for days.

#173 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 11:00 AM:

Does anyone have a recipe for mincemeat, BTW? Neither How to Cook Everything nor my King Arthur baking book (the only two big general reference cookbooks I own) contain mincemeat pie, much to my surprise and annoyance.

#174 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 11:15 AM:

Teresa, my mother is shipping me a fresh Buddha's Hand Citron (hereafter called BHC), which I intend to attempt to candy for next year's fruitcake. It seems her local Wegmans has them (Northern Virginia) at $15 a pound (ouch).

It is with delight that I read your instructions for candying the BHC, I *don't* have to do the change the water business? Great! (I'd planned to follow Joy of Cooking's recipe.)

For those who might be interested in growing their own citron, Logee's Greenhouses (www.logees.com) carries both the BHC and the Ertog plants ($10.95 each). The added bonus is that citrus blossoms have a heavenly aroma.

If anyone want's my Grandmother's mother's fruitcake recipe, let me know and I'll either email or post it.

#175 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 11:35 AM:

Lori, maybe one change of water, and don't let it soak too long. Best way to tell: taste the peel. Do you like the flavor? If so, candy it.

#176 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 01:22 PM:

Claude Muncey #98: Thank you for that explanation! Now I understand a lot of things I'd been wondering about that I didn't even know had to do with this topic per se. I'll read the links when I'm not at work.

Thena #146: Give a good stir, recover and ignore a couple more days. When I read this line, I honestly spent a few seconds wondering what you had to recover from...rum fumes, maybe? It's perfectly clear what you mean; my brain was just playing tricks on me.

#177 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Teresa at #102: The one on Montague Street, IIRC.

#178 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 01:37 PM:

Ursula, thanks for the explanation of mincemeat. I love the English mince pies, but never knew they'd originally have had meat in them as well as the other good stuff.

I've just returned from a stay in a small hotel in Eberstadt, where they served stollen as part of the breakfast buffet, which was rather wonderful. Brought back a stollen labelled Dr. Oetkers' Stollen, wonder if it uses the recipe as above.

In the BC (before children) days, we used to make Christmas puddings that were fed brandy for months or years, then ignited with a bit more brandy before serving. The oldest we tried had two years' worth of sousing in it and it was delicious.

#179 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 02:43 PM:

Ok, Teresa, that works for me -- when Mom called last Saturday and mentioned that she'd found Buddha's Hands in the produce department of the local Wegmans, I started laughing.

Synchronicity strikes again. Mom said the fruits were very large, about a pound each. I knew that Ponderosa lemons get very large, but I've never seen a fresh citron, so I had no idea as to size.

I'm still hoping to find a local source, maybe Whole Foods or Trader Joes.

#180 ::: Amy ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 03:10 PM:

Another good commercial, Catholic-religious-order fruitcake is the Kentucky Bourbon Fruitcake by the Trappists at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Their website is easy to remember. They also make a wicked bourbon fudge.

#181 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 03:34 PM:

Arwen at #131 -- In NYC try Dean & DeLucca for your candied peel and/or fruit.

An alternative is the Baker's Catalog, by the folks who produce King Arthur Flour.

#182 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 04:20 PM:

To go with all the fruitcake, here's Alton Brown on eggnog.

Click to listen, and hang on until the end when the scientifically oblivious questions of the NPR interviewer seem to drive Alton to either mild hysteria or despair.

#183 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 09:41 PM:

Buying Buddha's Hand citron online looks dicey; maybe from Produce Hunter, or Specialty Produce (currently out, last sold on 11/30).

But wait! The folks at Hanger One Vodka would like someone to candy 1000 pounds of Buddha's Hand Citron for an upcoming promotion. Maybe they'd let you keep some?

#184 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2006, 11:19 PM:

Dave, #168: Numbers 1, 3, 5, and 7 are what I recognize.

#185 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 12:05 AM:

Teresa @ #164:
"Bruce, there is no such thing as too much citron. It's only marginally possible to have enough citron. I'll take yours."

Sharon M. @ #183:
"But wait! The folks at Hanger One Vodka would like someone to candy 1000 pounds of Buddha's Hand Citron for an upcoming promotion. Maybe they'd let you keep some?"


[whisper]
Go on, Teresa. Call the vodka people. It's only half a ton. You know you want to....
[/whisper]

#186 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 01:10 PM:

Carrie @173: here is the Blessed Delia's recipe for mincemeat (Delia Smith, TV cook with a reputation for slightly boring but reliable recipes)

This one may be a bit more useful for American cooks, as she uses eating apples rather than Bramleys or other cookers, and substitutes margarine for suet. OTOH, I've never heard of rum in mincemeat, it's usually just brandy.

This one and this one both have figs in them, which is a bit odd, but they are measured in cups, which may be helpful.

A few notes:
You can leave the almonds out if necessary.
You can reduce or leave out the fat (make it up with applesauce or something, maybe) if the pie is going to be eaten hot. If it's for cold cutting, or if you're doing a lot of little mince pies to give to guests, like cookies, the fat keeps it moist.
Teetotallers can leave out brandy, although it doesn't keep as well then; you can make up the liquid with orange juice (in fact you can probably tell by comparing the recipes that you can vary the ingredients to taste. If you leave out vine fruits and spice it isn't really mincemeat any more, though, IMO- call it "Christmas fruit pie"!)
"Sultanas" are golden raisins.
Put in a bit less sugar than called for and taste for sweetness (cook a spoonful to try it if you've put the suet in already!)
Some people put a little bit of wine vinegar in for an extra zing.
The components of mixed spice vary, but it always has cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg; sometimes allspice, sometimes mace, sometimes coriander, rarely ginger.
Demerara sugar is crystals of brown sugar a millimetre or so large, caster sugar is white sugar with crystals a bit smaller than table sugar, muscovado sugar is dark unrefined sugar. Use the kind you have on hand.

Another nice thing to do with mincemeat is make the sort of bar cookies with a layer of slightly crumbly dough pressed into a tin, a layer of fruit filling, and another layer of dough crumbled on top. Especially if the dough is a moist one with oats in it.

#187 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 01:25 PM:

Man. I didn't know how much I missed my great-grandmother's mince pies until this thread.

Her meat pie turned out not to be so difficult (recipe, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, down a ways on this Thanksgiving roundup), so maybe next year I'll give mince a try. After I ask my folks if it had meat in or not.

#188 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 07:04 PM:

Upthread someone mentioned liking Myer's Rum precisely because it's rather sweet. I want to use a good dark rum as a flavoring in a buttercream candy center; I need one that's very strongly flavored, and not at all sweet (buttercream is mostly sugar and very not-sweet things still come out pretty sweet when mixed into it).

Recommendations?

#189 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 07:16 PM:

The proportions I use for mixed spice, since I can't get it in the US:
1 teaspoon ground allspice (aka pimiento)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon grated/ground nutmeg

I grind the whole spices, mix them in about those proportions, and then put whatever's left over in a small container in the freezer.

Remember, ladies and gentlemen, that a nutmeg hangover is not a pleasant experience. Do not radically increase the proportion of nutmeg, especially if you are like me and tend to double or triple the amount of mixed spice called for by the recipe. Just ask the Galactic Gourmet...

#190 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Xopher: I hesitate to say this, but Mount Gay might meet your requirements. I can only protest that that is its real name, dammit, and I am not making some sort of stupid redneck joke.

#191 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Xopher @ 188 -- I like Whaler's, though it's hard to get except on the Pacific Coast. I just had a sip, and it's not sweet at all.

Ny -- good to see you here. Cultivate your audacity.

#192 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 08:44 PM:

Dave -- the bottle of Mount Gay I have here is pretty light, with a nice, but not intense, flavour. Is there a particular subtype you're thinking of? My bottle says "Refined Eclipse Barbados Rum", and has a yellow map on the label.

#193 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 08:49 PM:

If memory serves, they do a dark rum version, with a solid whack of - I don't know - aromatic caramel-without-sweetness. But then again, I would have thought of their standard as pretty strongly flavoured. Have you tried Bundaberg OP dark?

#194 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 08:52 PM:

Xopher: You might try Appleton, V/X is best. Mount Gay's a decent rum, but lighter bodied.

#195 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 09:00 PM:

Dave Luckett #193: Is that an Australian rum?

#196 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 09:37 PM:

Oh, and the current batch of mincemeat sitting in the fridge was soused in Drambuie. This is because there was a half bottle of Drambuie that *nobody* wanted to help drink, so I was instructed to Get Rid Of It in a manner that allowed it to be eaten instead. I can report that Drambuie works in a variety of add-alcohol-to-food contexts that you might not have otherwise thought of.

#197 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 09:56 PM:

Fragano, yes. The dark is available in UP, 25 OP and 33 OP, or about 160 proof. The 33 OP was, at one time, the suicide-of-choice at fannish soirees. It's for mixing only, of course, unless you have no respect whatsoever for your oral cavity. I've always found it flavourful, but clearly I am shamefully ignorant of how much flavour a rum can have. I must find some Appleton V/X.

#198 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:09 PM:

Dave -- I've never run across Bundaberg at all, though I'll keep an eye out for it.

Fragano -- Appleton is definitely nice stuff, with good flavor, and not sweet -- but I don't think of it as being a 'dark' rum at all. More like a 'normal' rum... maybe my standards are skewed. Still, it would probably make a pretty nice buttercream filling. I'd try it, for sure.

Xopher -- I can't vouch for it, but you might want to think about something like Gosling's Black Seal. I've only had it once, under adverse circumstances, so I can't speak to its sweetness or lack therof. Dark, it is.

#199 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:11 PM:

*sigh*

All this talking about fruitcake made me go to the pantry (where I currently store my cookbooks) and see whether I could find the recipe my mother made for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, my copy of the "Golden Wattle" cookbook is still somewhere in a box (or hiding in one of the myriad piles of stuff around the house) which means I'm not able to start off a (very late) fruit cake of my own. *sigh*

Regarding the gumdrops in fruitcakes: are gumdrops the US name for fruit jellies (ie little bits of solid gelatine with fruit-ish flavours)? We have something similar here in .au - it's called the "artificial cherry" which pops up in cheap mixed dried fruit mixtures. Basically, instead of using real glace cherries (or leaving them out altogether and letting you add your own), the manufacturers put in these little round blobs of jelly in red or green, and call them "artificial cherries". Ruddy 'orrible, to be honest.

Anyway, must rush - I have to see whether I can find a good recipe for boiled fruit cake in the cookbooks I have available.

#200 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:21 PM:

Regarding the gumdrops in fruitcakes: are gumdrops the US name for fruit jellies (ie little bits of solid gelatine with fruit-ish flavours)?

I would expect so. In the UK, I think they might be called jelly babies (my impression from Tom Baker as Dr. Who). I've bought the same sort of thing, in the shape of worms.

A cake related application (done by a friend for her brother's birthday): cut jelly worms in half and imbed them in the frosting as if they're wriggling out; works best with chocolate frosting (it's the mud).

#201 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2006, 11:27 PM:

Dave #190: I love you. I mean that, of course, in the most nonsexual, male-bonding, you're-my-buddy-dude, buy-you-a-drink way possible. (I'm teasing. I really have very strong affection for you at this moment though. That was wonderful.)

Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions.

#202 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 01:27 AM:

Xopher, I'm partial to Pusser's Rum. In fact, I'm drinking it right now. Originally simply called "pursur's rum," its claim to fame is that from 1731 to 1970 it was the rum served to seamen in the Royal Navy as their daily ration.* It's a medium-body blended rum, very flavorful, and not at all sweet. (If I make a Rum and Coca-Cola with Pussers, the result is less sweet than plain Coke.)

The color is darker than a gold rum but lighter than a black rum (about halfway between Bacardi Gold and Myers). Mixes well, yet is perfectly pleasant served neat. 84 proof. Moderately priced.

* I have no idea of the truth of this marketing claim. On their website,** they claim that the company's founder got the distribution rights and the blending formula from the British Admiralty. In exchange for this, a portion of all sales goes to the Royal Navy Sailor's Fund.

** If your employer's Web-blocking service is anything like mine, don't click this link at work.

#203 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 02:44 AM:

Teresa,

Regards from one of your worldcon kaffeklatchers.

If you're interested in citron, we just pulled one off our (wee little dwarf) citron tree and candied it. We could send you about a cup o' this, priority, if you like.

Or, there are a couple more on the tree, still pretty green.

A gardening person could do worse (yes I'm a native Minnesotan and I talk like that even when enthusiastic) than to wander over to the Four Winds Growers website and drool over the varieties they grow -- http://fourwindsgrowers.com/variety_list.html
Lise and I will vouch for these folks; we have a few of their trees in pots, thriving.

best to you and Patrick,
-Ruth Temple

#204 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 08:20 AM:

Dave Luckett #197: Appleton also makes another aged rum, but that's usually beyond my pocket. Jamaican and Guyanese (Demerara) rums are fuller-bodied than rums made elsewhere because of the way they're made (double-distilled, dunder process). Some friends of mine have sworn by a Haitian rum, Barbancourt, and it isn't too bad. Some people like El Dorado, from Guyana, and that isn't bad either though it does have a bit of sweetness.

The best rum I've tasted is Matusalem, a Cuban rum which is impossible to find in the US for technical reasons, but that's quite sweet. It is, however, very smooth.

Victor $ #197: True, Appleton is a lot lighter than Myers and Charley's.

As the poet says:

Oh some are fond of red wine, and some are fond of white,
And some are all for dancing by the pale moonlight;
But rum alone's the tipple, and the heart's delight
Of the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of Spanish wine, and some are fond of French,
And some'll swallow tay and stuff fit only for a wench;
But I'm for right Jamaica till I roll beneath the bench,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are for the lily, and some are for the rose,
But I am for the sugar-cane that in Jamaica grows;
For it's that that makes the bonny drink to warm my copper nose,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of fiddles, and a song well sung,
And some are all for music for to lilt upon the tongue;
But mouths were made for tankards, and for sucking at the bung,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are fond of dancing, and some are fond of dice,
And some are all for red lips, and pretty lasses' eyes;
But a right Jamaica puncheon is a finer prize
To the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some that's good and godly ones they hold that it's a sin
To troll the jolly bowl around, and let the dollars spin;
But I'm for toleration and for drinking at an inn,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

Oh some are sad and wretched folk that go in silken suits,
And there's a mort of wicked rogues that live in good reputes;
So I'm for drinking honestly, and dying in my boots,
Like an old bold mate of Henry Morgan.

--John Masefield

#205 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2006, 12:32 PM:

The best rum I ever had was a bottle of something completely anonymous from Guatemala, back around 1986 or so -- no label, stoppered with a cork wrapped in tinfoil, and the smoothest damned sippin' rum I've ever tasted.

#206 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2006, 01:30 PM:

:grin: I just found out that there's a song out there by the Von Trapp kids called "Please don't send me fruitcake."

#207 ::: Lee W ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2006, 05:35 PM:

I Googled for a Dark Fruitcake recipe & have been reading this page for over an hour! What a bunch - nutty as a fruitcake, the lot of you! I would love to hear anyone's fruitcake recipe that has all the usual candied fruits (including the citron - Theresa, I'd help you eat that 1/2 ton!)as well as several types of raisins, currants & dates. The unique part is that it has blackstrap molasses & black coffee in it. My mom got it from a Mrs. Gales over 40 years back in Montreal. I think, though, it may have originally been an English recipe. It was usually made right after Thanksgiving (in Canada that is in early October rather that the late November tradition in the US)and kept in the usual sherry soaked cheesecloth until Christmas. Every two weeks the cheescloth would be unwrapped & doused with another ounce of sherry & a dousing for the cook as well. A quick note on 'Navy' rum. My dad was in the Royal Canadian Navy & told me they served Demerrara Rum to the sailors. He used to buy this while iI was young & I recall it was very dark and strong (& good).

#208 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 03:08 PM:

I just had an email from MapMuse asking me to contribute to their map of holiday fruitcake suppliers in the USA.

Given that I live in the UK and am not likely to visit the US until Denvention, I'm a little perplexed as to the utility of any contribution I can make.

I'm presuming I'm not the only commenter on this thread to be invited to the party.

#209 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 03:22 PM:

Martyn, you beat me to it. Here is the text of the spam, which I normally wouldn't post but this is kind of surreal:

I am writing to let people know that MapMuse.com has recently introduced interactive mapping of places to get holiday fruitcakes across the US. There are presently over 20 fruitcake suppliers located on the MapMuse maps.

The idea is for fruitcake suppliers, and their customers, to build upon what we have started by adding information about their fruitcakes to the maps. The following information can be provided for each fruitcake maker- the name, descriptive text, a photo, contact information, and a link to a website.

That's part of it. There are a few phrases later on ("holiday fruitcake") that suggest this wasn't a mailing auto-created by a robot. Weird....

#210 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 03:35 PM:

Just got an email as well. Again, I am not much use, being based in the UK.

#211 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 03:36 PM:

I got the Fruitcake Map e-mail too. Weird. And I was so-o-o-o tempted to click on the interactive fruitcake map.

#212 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 03:42 PM:

Moi aussi. I headed straight over here to post the text of the MapMuse mail but see I've been made redundant.

#213 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 03:44 PM:

Yep. Read it (having already seen the first couple of posts here) and then sent it off to the spam filter.

Anyone interested in a recipe for white fruitcake (cherries and pineapple, no raisins)?

#214 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 03:47 PM:

I got it too. They must have mined the email addresses from this thread. Grrr.

#215 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 03:56 PM:

The question is, was there a Fruitcake Map site before the Making Light discussion, the admin of which obnoxiously took advantage of our email addresses, or is there some kind of instant response firm out there that makes map databases on the fly based on hot memes?

We could test this by having a discussion of something really peculiar that would have no chance of pre-existing. Like erotic weasel shaving, or mammoth recipes using Velveeta (tm).

#216 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 04:19 PM:

Ditto. I couldn't quite tell just why a map would be considered useful, given the present intarwebbiness of it all.

BTW, I was doing a bit of channel-surfing last night, and ended up at a Food Network show where the host was visiting Gethsemani to see how their fruitcake was made. I've never seen quite that many tube pans in one place, ever. And the spigot marked "Bourbon"--priceless.

#217 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 04:23 PM:

ditto. & to the email that i use for purposes of commenting here, though you'd get my url, not my email, if you clicked on my name....

#218 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Stefan #215

Perhaps we should combine the weasels and the Velveeta?

#219 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 04:31 PM:

Yes, PJ I would like the white fruitcake recipe. dragonet at kc.rr.com. thanks much.

#220 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 08:31 PM:

I've been fruitcake-map spammed (hmm. Now that's a recipe) as well.

It's not quite as strange as the time I posted on my blog saying that I wasn't interested in lottery winnings/international financial movements and immediately started to get Shanghai Silk Embroidery Spam, but it comes close.

@215 Stefan - Other factors for your experiment:

1. The Map people would want some sort of supplier/producer to sponsor or advertise. (Weasel supplier? Mammoth producer?)

2. We might also want to complain about the decline in quality/difficulty in getting hold of whatever it is ("Those weasels aren't as erotic as they used to be"; "Even speciality stores don't seem to stock Mammoth any more")

3. Er... no that's all I can think of.

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2006, 09:00 PM:

I've been fruitcake-map spammed

You too, Neil?

#222 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 07:14 PM:

I finally got around to reading this thread, and it just bugs me.

It's ETROG (or ethrog), not ERTOG.

You want some etrogim (pl) cheap, find an Orthodox synagogue, and go on the morning of the 7th day of the holiday Sukkot (Tabernacles). That's when we're done with them, and would like to find a good use for them. That should give you enough time to ferment the fruitcake.

#223 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 07:27 PM:

joann @ 218 Perhaps we should combine the weasels and the Velveeta?

Only after they've been properly peeled and brined. The Velveeta(tm) can be combined with fire-roasted jalepenos for increased piquancy before applying to the weasels.

I'm looking forward to the map of CheezyWeasel suppliers in the US!

#224 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 07:28 PM:

Other than the RNC headquarters, that is.

#225 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 08:54 PM:

Larry @218: If you choose to brine your weasels, be sure to dry them thoroughly before placing them in the deep-fryer. Otherwise you might start a fire.

#226 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2006, 09:07 PM:

TexAnne #225: They'll go 'pop', you mean?

#227 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 01:05 PM:

Fragano #226:

Only if you include the peppers. Consider the "jalapeno popper" much beloved of chain bars.

Mind you, Larry #223, the addition of something peppery is a necessity if Velveeta is involved.

#228 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 04:11 PM:

joanne #227: And here I thought it took half a pound of twopenny rice and half a pound of treacle.

#229 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 07:02 PM:

Don't forget the mulberry bush!
Maybe that's where you set up the deep fryer?

#230 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 07:07 PM:

Which is, of course, operated by a somewhat out-of-breath monkey.

#231 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2006, 07:11 PM:

...selling embroidery materials on the side. (How else can he afford the rice and treacle?)

#232 ::: Sherry Gallegos ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 02:47 PM:

Did I miss something I would like the fruitcake receipe? What must I do to get it? Thanks...

#233 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 09:40 PM:

Sherry, you sound like you just now dropped into this topic and are a little overwhelmed. (This is not uncommon on Patrick & Teresa's blog.) We've been discussing a number of recipes here.

Teresa's main post, at the top of the thread, has a link to Jo Walton's Cousin Beryl's Fruitcake recipe. (It's in British measurements, tho, with temperature in Centigrade and measurements by weight rather than volume. I don't recall if anyone in the thread has posted an Americanized version.)

Several other recipes have been posted in the thread, and there are quite a few links to various recipes elsewhere on the Internet. Was there a particular one you wanted?

#234 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 09:45 PM:

Pack weasels into a wide-mouthed jar, cover with heavily salted and sweetened vinegar, and process as usual.

#235 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 09:51 PM:

Even with the vinegar,I'd assume that you'd want to process the weasels in a pressure-canner, to avoid botulism. (Um, should I go check the 'Blue Book'?

#236 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 10:26 PM:

I know pack weasels sound like a good idea, but it takes forever to strap them into their little panniers and load them up with supplies, and then you're stuck hiking in the full heat of the day.

If you're determined to go the pack-weasel route, be sure to read Across the Andes by Weasel, by Anton Clordis. Lots of good tips for the inexperienced weaselpacker.

#237 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 10:48 PM:

Tim, Tim, you confuse pack weasels with the PAK 103mm recoiless weasel, as used by the 20th "Grossfehling" division during the Carpathian campaign of December, 1944. It could knock out a T-34/85 at over a thousand metres, but getting one to point in the right direction was, in the words of the official enquiry, "ein Fachmannsarbeit".

#238 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 10:49 PM:

Why did I just say Tim, when I meant Howard? Sorry.

#239 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 11:28 PM:

joann@#216: At the Kalamazoo Medieval Congress one year, one nunnery sold bourbon caramel chocolates that must have been about 211 proof. You could not only get drunk off the fumes, you could get a contact high from the wrappers.

The problem was that the plastic wrappers on mine dissolved into the chocolate in a couple of weeks. I think this was a widespread problem, and possibly related to the alcohol content, because the next year, the chocolates weren't nearly as potent.

#240 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 11:49 PM:

Aconite@ 239 - What a tragedy. Better to find a more alcohol-resistant wrapper than to dumb down (or smarten up depending on your opinion) the bourbon caramels.

joann@216 - A tap marked "bourbon"? Where do I get one of those? Or several?

#241 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:55 AM:

Dave (238), your confusion is understandable. I actually had Tim's writing style in mind when I posted my comment.

It's interesting that you should mention the PAK 103mm recoiless weasel. Anton Clordis was from Austria-Hungary, and as a junior officer during the Great War, he had experimented with weasel-borne munitions. It was these early experiences that led him to undertake the Andean expedition in the antipodal summer of 1921-1922. Interviewed by the British press at the conclusion of the expedition, he was asked if he had any plans for the weasels. The polyglot Cordis said, "Yes. I'd like to shoot the little buggers." It was an error in translating English idiom to German that led directly to the development of the PAK 103mm recoiless weasel.

#242 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 07:23 AM:

Gentlemen, gentlemen, you are repeating a common myth here. The weasel as a projectile predates the PAK 103mm recoiless by nearly a century.

During the Sepoy Rebellion, as we all recall, the use of the 1853 Enfield rifle was a major issue due to the use of either lard (pork fat, offensive to Muslims) or tallow (beef fat, offensive to Hindus) on the wadding.

A minor Army officer at the time, Cpl Atherton Fellowhand, began development at that point of the Fellowhand Unrifled Weasel Musket, using an alternative approach to rifling the barrel of a gun: teaching weasels to spin midair.

This revolutionary idea still required the weasels to fit very precisely in the barrels of the guns. Fellowhand's solution was to shave the weasels and coat them with an inexpensive mix of cheese and candle wax which he named in honour of his fiancee, the lovely socialite Velveeta Thrumwhistle.

Unfortunately, the fair Velveeta married Lord Overly-Hyphenated, Atherton Fellowhand died of a broken heart, and the single prototype Fellowhand Unrifled Weasel Musket made its way to Austria-Hungary, where it fell into the hands of the Clordis family.

In other words, Clordis was merely planning a trip home for some hunting after his expedition when he was interviewed.

#243 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 10:50 AM:

abi #242: I think there's some confusion here. The use of the weasel musket is descended from a weapon first used by the Royal Gothamshire Regiment (His Majesty's Weasels) during the Napoleonic Wars (in particular during the Peninsular War, when the Weasels distinguished themselves by the great alacrity with which they retreated to (and from) Corunna. Sir Arthur Wellesley promptly packed them off to India.

#244 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:41 AM:

Larry #240:

Sweet's catalog, I'd say, if that still exists? This monastery has a *very* industrial-strength kitchen, or at least fruitcake-producing area. Think "factory floor". There was this very large spigot embedded in an industrial-gray panel, with an engraved plastic label just like you see for any industrial process. Only it read "Bourbon." I suppose you could create your own ...

#245 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Addendum: I could use a small-batch setup just now: I'm procrastinating instead of making zabaglione, tiramisu to contain it, chutney, bread pudding and madeleines. The zabaglione and the tiramisu contain enough marsala and brandy to propel some small engine for a short period. Spigots would be useful.

#246 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Fragano @243:

Are you sure that HM Weasels were using weasels as projectiles? I was under the impression the soldiers actually were weasels, and used a variety of doormouse as a projectile. Or it might have been pygmy mammoths - the historical record is unclear.

Even if you are correct, Fellowhand retains some distinction for the shaving of the weasels, teaching them to pirouette midair, and of course the use of Velveeta.

#247 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:59 PM:

Surely, Kipling must have had something to say about the military mongoose....

(Glad I checked this thread again. As I guessed would happen, most of the postings have wandered delightfully off-topic by now.)

#248 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:31 PM:

Abi #246: Sir John Moore's war diary makes reference to HM Weasels using what seem to be (the diary is heavily bloodstained due to his death in battle at Elviña) high-calibre ferrets. He did not have a very high impression of their musketry either, if the reference to water rats on a subsequent page is correct. Bloodstains and water damage make an earlier passage which seems to refer to moles and toads almost completely unreadable. The regiment's historian, Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, is ambivalent on the subject.

#249 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Faren Miller #247: Indeed. The story of Subadar Rikki-tikki-tavi of the Bengal Lancers is very well known.

#250 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 05:10 PM:

ROFLMAO (after moving the Quebecoise beer carefully out of the way: mustn't waste good beer!)

#251 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 07:12 PM:

Fragano @248

You've tickled my memory a bit, and I've done some digging.

Apparently the use of weasels predates firearms. There's a reference to the Parthians using them in one of the battles leading up to Carrhae in 53 BC. It seems that Crassus was wounded by a flying weasel shot from a Parthian bow (Crassus mustela volucre sauciatus, nam eas arco iaculantur Parthiarum). This may have weakened him before his final battle.

I can't currently trace the source, but I seem to recall that the early traders in gunpowder from the Silk Road may have passed through what is now Iran. Did they meet the Parthian weasel-archers? Is this where the idea of the weasel firearm originates? I have some memory of reading something about it, but that was long ago, and in another country*.

I am well out of my field here. Does anyone know anything more?

-----
* And besides, the Dench is wed.

#252 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 07:28 PM:

Abi #251:

Persian weasel-archers (even Parthian ones), I had not heard of. However, there is a passage of the Mozi, an ancient Chinese philosophical work, which is relevant:

"Our teacher Mozi tells us that the superior man will not use the weasels of battle. He says this not because he hates weasels, but because the superior man will not expose the common people to unnecessary dangers. And therefore, our teacher Mozi tells us to avoid the use of weasels."

This suggests a very ancient use of military weasels, though whether as troops, missiles, or instruments of divination is not clear.

#253 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 08:01 PM:

Eatin' some tripe in the morning, sniffin' Velveeta spread,
I walks on the Habitrail Highway, a weasel-stick stuck on me 'ead,
With seventy weasels be'ind me, an' never a bugger forgets
It's only the pick o' the Army
That 'andles the dear little pets -- 'Tss! 'Tss!
For you all love the weasels -- the weasels are never morose --
When weasels are flyin' and brave men are fryin'
You have just two chances at most. 'ost! 'ost!
Please send us your cheese and your trifle,
It's best if the cheese is on toast.
You can climb on an easel avoiding the weasel
But you'll still end up eating beef, roast.

#254 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 08:59 PM:

That would be the 1897-pattern weasel-stick, with the birchwood grip and two-pronged fork, affectionately referred to as "Susie Dean" by the men, rather than the all-aluminium 1912-pattern weasel-stick with the two long tines and one shorter one ("Jennie with the limp") which was worn at the lower back on route marches rather than on the head. The "Jennie" weasel-stick eventually proved to be unacceptably flimsy, and was withdrawn after the 12th Wiltshire Rangers (the "Mustelmen", who wore green turbans to denote their long service in the Middle East) were wiped out almost to the man at Ypres when their own weasels, maddened by the sound of German artillery, turned on them.

#255 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 07:52 AM:

The fate of the Wiltshire Rangers caused disquiet throughout the British Army. As late as 1937, the Queen's Own Draggy Hevoons were petitioning for the withdrawal of their recently-issued SLR's (stoat-loaded rifles) and the reissue of their old Mark VIII muskratoons. This request was rejected; but Rommel's diary records that he was narrowly missed by counter-ferret fire at the Battle of A Rat, May 23-26, 1940, and this may the nearest that the mustelid smallarm ever came to changing the course of history.

Meanwhile, in Germany development had taken an entirely different path. Encouraged by the success of the 32 mm squeezebore in Spain, the Wehrmacht issued first the 79mm PAK (Polkatz Angrief Kanone) and then the 103mm "Nertz". At the war's end they were working on a 207mm weapon with a HESH (High Energy Stoat Hurling) warhead that might have posed a severe threat to Allied armour had the round not required at least three mutually attracted weasels for aerodynamic stability. As it was, it had potential as area denial ordnance, but accurate targeting proved impossible.

#256 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 11:54 AM:

There's nothing better than reading Making Light on a Christmas morning, with a plate of Collin Street Bakery fruitcake and a glass of White Mountain Weasel Wheat near to hand.

#257 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 12:34 PM:

Jim (253): Thank you, I love to Kipple.

#258 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 12:51 PM:

Even after he'd been petted and cosseted and restored to the shelter of his mother's skirts, the child would not be comforted. I heard his small uneasy voice speaking in the darkness, long after the fire had died down.

"But what of the very old fruitcakes?" he asked. "Where do they go when their shrines are all burnt?"

"Hush, baba, hush," his mother said, her voice low. "They turn into weasel-wallahs. All know it. Now sleep, and be glad the jungle hath returned thee."

#259 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 01:04 PM:

The creampuff I'd eaten was floating gently, just above the floor of my stomach, in exactly the way fruitcakes don't.

#260 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 12:59 PM:

The thread's end? A thing of mad beauty.

Shame it didn't go into the innovative private rocketry work recreating Dr. John Dee's animal husbandry experiments, using the larger-scale resources of John W. Parsons, the produce of the local Pasadena raisin industry, freshly-cast solid fuel rocket cores, several dozen mustelids, and the services of L. Ron Hubbard, as amaneuse....

#261 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 07:42 AM:

I just received this advertisment:

New Publication for 2007

Weasels at War Weekly

This unique magazine charts the use of mustelids in conflict, from scientific recreations of neolithic domesticated hunting badgers, through the WWII Nazi-SuperWeasel, to the adoption of the Weasel War Dance as a training method by most modern armies. Week by week Weasels at War builds up to an irreplaceable resource on fighting ferrets! Part One comes with your own Weasel Containment System*. Not suitable for under 12s.

* From the picture, this appears to be a cardboard tube, perhaps from wrapping paper.

#262 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 09:51 AM:

I didn't know badgers are mustelids. (Learn something new every day.) I have to admit that I was greatly impresses by the digging equipment, the one time I saw one Up Close and Personal (it was already dead, okay? I had to move it so I could run the mower).

#263 ::: seattleklkl ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 01:25 PM:

I am a beginning fruitcake maker. I have started with a pretty dang good recipe, but next year I plan to make a few changes.
Here's my question, What is the purpose of "ripening" the fruitcake?

#264 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 08:22 PM:

"ripening" the fruitcake, even if you don't add likker of any sort, allows the flavors to blend together further. It also allows the moisture levels to even out between the batter and the fruit. If you do add likker, the flavor will change as the fruit and alcohol oxidise. If you use a honey based batter, letting the fruitcake ripen will make it edible (see pfeffernuesse (sp variable), which are not edible for a couple of weeks after you make them).

Ripen at cellar temperature (55-60F), do not wrap in plastic. I don't add likker to my fruitcake, but even so, it does taste better after a couple of weeks. It rarely lasts a couple of months, unless I forget that it's there. I usually wrap in muslin and put single layers into cake tins with apple wedges.

#265 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:15 AM:

Drat. Were I not nearly a month behind in reading this, I could have ordered an alcohol-free fruitcake for this year. I looked in many stores, and absolutely the only fruitcake I saw this year was the smallish oblong one at Safeway, which I shied away from because of the rum and brandy (and because I don't recall it being much good in past years). Even that was long gone well before Christmas. I blame fruitcake jokes for convincing whole generations of Americans that fruitcake is, by definition, never worth eating - so they've never even tried it. Consequently no one stocks it anymore, at least not within a few miles of Wilmot Road, Tucson.

#266 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2007, 12:45 AM:

(see Slice O Life Bakery, above, and check if they have sober cakes)

My first fruitcake in years? Not ripe yet, and I didn't cut the candied fruit, and I cut it too soon, and I used pound cake mix.

Best to try again, with more rum, real dried fruit I like, and homemade pound cake batter, and patience.

#267 ::: j smithy ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 03:27 AM:

BRITISH AND IRISH HAVE COMPLAINED ABOUT MCDONALDS FOODS. YOU TRY EATING MARZIPAN AND MINCED MEAT PIES AND YOU WILL GAIN THE WEIGHT YOU HAVE AVOIDED IN ONE MONTH BY EATING AT MCDONALDS
MARZIPAN GIVES YOU HIGH CAVATIES AND MINCED MEAT IS VERY RICH IN CALORIES.
JUST HAVE IT WHEN YOU ARE IN THE UK
FROM A BRITISH WHO IS FED UP OF MARZIPAN AND MINCED PIES.

#268 ::: abi spots mad crazy capitalised anti-mince pie spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 03:55 AM:

It just goes to prove
There's nothing so good
That no one will move
To rubbish the food.

#269 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:09 AM:

Not particularly good sentence structures either.

#270 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:23 AM:

But not spam, I think. A drive-by comment from someone who's not a very competent user of the language (though you may be when grown up and/or sober), but not comment spam. No link to anything, just an email address.

#271 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 09:31 AM:

"Down with Marzipan! Up with Burgers!" says burgmeister Meisterburger.

#272 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2007, 02:28 PM:

It looked much more spammy when there were four of them in a row.

#273 ::: Mary Dell sees marzipan ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2007, 09:24 PM:

We could start calling weird drive-by comments "marzipan" instead of "spam." Then we can say things like "smells like marzipan to me" or "peddle your marzipan someplace else, troll!" or "if you're going to bring the marzipan, at least make it good."


#274 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2007, 10:09 PM:

Shame on you, Mary Dell! Spam is nasty. Marzipan is yummy. Clearly your proposal is a non-starter.

#275 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2007, 10:35 PM:

Marzipan is nasty! It's paste! It doesn't have a proper flavor like lemon or strawberry or chocolate! And yet it masquerades as some kind of treat. Eeeyew! Spam, at least, is honest. And tasty, when sliced and fried, and served to children who are accustomed to nothing but salt horse.*

*well, Irish cooking anyway

#276 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2007, 10:58 PM:

Marzipan tastes exactly like almond paste. Which is what it is.

#277 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Since it's alive (oh the horror) and I found my recipe folder:

Sylvia's Fruitcake Cookies
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs, beaten slightly
3 scant Tbsp milk
3 scant tsp baking soda
3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup whisky or bourbon
1 lb pecan pieces
1/2 lb pecan halves
1/4 lb red and green candied cherries, chopped
1/4 lb rean and gree candied pineapple, chopped
1 box white raisins

Cream butter and sugar; mix well.
Add beaten eggs and mix.
Add milk, whisky and spices; beat well.
Sift flour and soda together and reserve 1/2 of mixture.
Mix nuts and fruit in a separate bowl and add half of flour mixture; mix until well coated.
Add rest of flour to egg mixture and mix well.
Add fruit mixture and any remaining flour.
Drop by teaspoons on greased cookie sheets.
Bake at 250F for 30 minutes.

You can make only half a recipe.

This cookie recipe is an excuse for pecans.

#278 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Xopher @ 276:
Marzipan tastes exactly like almond paste.

Exactly. Nasty. It's what the puritanical chocolate companies put in their chocolate assortments, to demonstrate that there must be some evil hiding in anything that seems all good.

#279 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2007, 11:43 PM:

david, mary dell,

i will happily take all your marzipan.

mmmmmmmm, marzipan.

#280 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 12:14 AM:

miriam beetle, you keep your hands to yourself! It's mine, I tell you, mine all mine!

#281 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Spam and fruitcake in a blender.
Yum.
Urp!

#282 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 12:34 AM:

Serge in a blender!

#283 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 12:39 AM:

It's... It's made with people!
Tatses just like chicken too.

#284 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Xopher @#276:

Marzipan tastes exactly like almond paste. Which is what it is.

Which is nasty. Don't make me go vandalize a Wikipedia article to prove it.

Oh, wait, I don't need to. Quote:

The Indian sweet Badam Barfi, also made from Almonds, tastes similar to Marzipan.

See? Bad, barfy. What more can I say?

#285 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Barfi's great. It doesn't taste like marzipan at all, unless I'm thinking of the wrong stuff; looks like fluffy preserved carrots, and tastes somewhat carrot-cakey. Marzipan, on the other hand, is a great substitute for Play-Doh, in that you can actually paint it (I love looking at the pigs and the fruits and all, although I wasn't able to eat more than half of a very miniaturized pig), but I can take or leave the taste.

#286 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2007, 08:18 PM:

Joann @ 285... Barfi's great.

How did SNL's spoof of Smucker's go?
"Nuns-being-eaten-alive-by-rats... With a name like that, it's got to be good."

#287 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Mary Dell, I'm with you on the marzipan. I find almonds in nearly any form that isn't actual nuts to be appalling. That means besides hating marzipan, I don't like amaretto and can't stand almond-scented anything.* This would make more sense to me if I hated the nuts as well, but I like them just fine. I oughta ask my mother if I ate myself sick on marzipan as a child.

*I worked at a auto service station for a while, and the heavy-duty hand cleaner was almond scented. Yuck.

#288 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 12:42 PM:

This Winter, I've come back to fruitcake. Waiting to make my second batch, with dried cherries, pineapple, cranberries, apricots, raisins, pecans, molasses, rum, flour, butter, mace, cloves and cinnamon. Hope it turns out well -- last batch had half as much flour as the recipe needed. *Chewy*.

#289 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 02:15 PM:

I had my first taste of fruitcake on Christmas Eve. It made me long for my father's fruitbread.

#290 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:30 PM:

I had a storebought fruitcake lying around after the holidays this year, such as I admitted to being fond of way back when and upthread. Lying around too carelessly, as it turns out, because earlier this week it was discovered, unwrapped, and utterly devoured by the dog.

The vets in the crowd will be breaking out in a sweat by now, since of course this fruitcake, as most are, was full of raisins, which are horrifyingly toxic to dogs.

(Monty seems to be fine; we took him to the emergency vet that night after we figured out what had happened, and they put him on an IV for a couple of days and watched his bloodwork for Bad Stuff. Very very scary though, and as my wife pointed out to Facebook friends the other night, we've become a PSA now. So, yeah: Don't give the dog raisins, kids.)

Of course, now several people have pointed to this as further evidence that Fruitcake Is Evil. Whereas, now that I'm not sick with worry over the whole thing, I'm starting to wish I had that fruitcake now.

#291 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:36 PM:

I bought a penatone at a Used Food Store yesterday, and had a slice for dessert.

Not bad at all for $3.00.

#292 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:46 PM:

Stefan #291:

"Used Food Store"?

#293 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 03:56 PM:

#292: Kind of like a thrift store for food. Discontinued items. Unfamiliar house brands. Foreign brands.

Not out of date, but out of season or no longer welcome on the shelves. Example: The plug was pulled on the beloved Mother's cookie brand last year. Not wanting the shelf space devoted to the brand to slowly go empty, they sent the packages to a Used Food Store. Where I bought them really cheap just yesterday!

You can find Used Food Store chains all over. I didn't make that term up. I heard it first from a co-worker, referring to the Grocery Outlet store in Beaverton, OR.

Then out of the blue my parents referred to a store near their vacation trailer in Florida as a Used Food Store.

#294 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2009, 04:34 PM:

Stefan #293:

You mean those whacking great soft cookies I used to get out of vending machines, a mainstay of my graduate career, are no more? (Mourns.)

#295 ::: Tom Whitmore sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2011, 05:30 PM:

Nuttier than many fruitcakes, too.

#296 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2012, 07:37 PM:

I'm essaying my first fruitcake baking ever tomorrow. I felt confident asking friends over to bake one with me, because I knew there were recipes in this thread. Thank you and wish me luck!

#297 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2012, 11:46 AM:

Nancy -- good luck! I'm still gathering ingredients, got all the dried/candied fruit, just need the nuts. I'll probably hit the Fresh Market this week to get those.

#298 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2012, 12:49 PM:

It doesn't look as if I'm going to be able to make honigkuchen this year after all (German honey cake, not actually fruitcake but does have candied fruit). It needs to be made by mid-November to age properly by Christmas, and I'm still pretty dubious that I'll be back in my apartment soon enough. :(

#299 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2012, 01:47 PM:

The two small fruitcakes I made last January are due for their last soaking with rum on December 15. Then they get shipped to my parents and my siblings.

#300 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2012, 11:02 PM:

I was in the local Central Market yesterday, and they had their stylized Christmas tree up on their front facade, and they had chocolate Advent calendars in a big display in the entrance, and they had all the Christmas candy in the middle of the bulk section, and they had all the Christmas pastries and gingerbread and candied fruit and whatnot out in various locations.

I said to a couple of people inside: "Y'know, once upon a time there used to be a holiday called Thanksgiving...."

#301 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 08:54 PM:

Mary Aileen,

If you are willing to send me the recipe, I could make and mail to you?

#302 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 09:24 PM:

Nancy C. Mittens (302): Thank you, that's a very generous offer, but I'd probably do better to pass the recipe on to my mother and let her make it for the holidays. (It's an old family recipe from my father's mother, which Mom lost and I have since tracked down again.)

#303 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2012, 06:52 PM:

I posted the honigkuchen recipe to the current open thread this afternoon.

#304 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2012, 08:40 PM:

And I think it's time to have a piece of the (very small) fruitcake I got for Christmas.

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