Fruitcake, to be precise. Who likes it?
Well, I do. I love fruitcake and I’m not ashamed to admit it. The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a slice or two of the dark, moist, fragrant confection.
The best fruitcakes are baked early to allow flavours to develop and intensify. I start mine at least a month before Christmas.
Firstly, dried fruits are dumped in a bowl and doused with a glug or two of booze. Some use rum. Some use brandy. I use whisky. Canadian Club Rye Whisky to be precise.
Tasting of the fruit at this stage is mandatory. <grin>
After allowing the fruit to soak up the booze for at least twelve hours (I give it an entire day [more time to taste test the fruit]) it’s stirred into a batter rich with butter, eggs and sugar. Also those warm spices that scream holiday baking – nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice.
The batter is plunked in a lined baking pan and baked at a low temperature for hours. 285 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours to be precise. The house smells divine. It smells like the holidays of my childhood.
Then the cake needs to cool completely. Given its density, that takes a couple hours.
To help keep the cake moist, and to aid in its longevity, the cake is “fed” with additional booze, whisky in this case, at regular intervals. I feed mine weekly by sprinkling a few tablespoons of whisky over the top of the cake before tightly re-wrapping it in parchment paper and tin foil. Normally I’d store the cake in a large cake tin but IT’S STILL IN STORAGE!
Perhaps it’s time for another cake feeding. And I might just have a tipple, too.
Do you like fruitcake? Have you tried a homemade version that’s nicely steeped in spirits?
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to all my American friends and relations!
I can’t recall if I’ve shared a picture of the ferry that connects Long Island, NS with the mainland.
I bring this up because we’re heading across Petite Passage today to run a few errands. There has been talk over the years about building a bridge to the mainland because the distance isn’t that great. A bridge would certainly change life for the island’s inhabitants. And I can say, after living here for the past six months, that a bridge would be fabulous. Organizing one’s life around the ferry schedule is a royal pain in the arse. If you miss the boat you wait an hour. Not fun. Makes for some rushed mornings. And some lead feet on the drive coming the other way.
But at the same time, having to take a ferry to get here makes this place special and I’d hate to see that changed. Of course, I’m speaking as a short-term temporary resident so I don’t have a dog in this race.
In other news, the men and women lobster fishers are gearing up for the start of the lobster season in this area of the province. “Dumping Day”, the day the first traps are dumped in the ocean, is next Monday. We’ve been watching trailer loads of traps heading up the road to the wharves to be loaded on the boats.
Do you eat lobster?
A few weeks ago I mentioned Homemade Cookie Day – celebrated weekly in this house. Today is Homemade Bread Day, also celebrated regularly around here. I love homemade bread. Both the making and the eating.
There was a time I would hand-knead the dough for upwards of ten minutes (good workout for the arm muscles) but then I got a stand mixer and now I let the machine do the hard work. I still enjoy the fruits of its labors though. And I still hand-knead an old family recipe for Shredded Wheat Bread that makes too much dough to fit in the bowl of my mixer.
Anyway, back to the homemade bread. Yum! You’re supposed to wait until the bread cools completely – ‘cause of steam or molecules or something – before slicing but that’s a rule that begs to be broken. Who can wait when that extraordinarily luscious smell is permeating the house? When that golden loaf of deliciousness is sitting on the cooling rack, its flanks exposed to the air and the razor sharp bread knife? When whoever made that ridiculous rule obviously possessed too much willpower than was good for him? (Must have been a him ‘cause I suspect that rule was foisted on us back when most leaders in the culinary world were men.)
One of my favourite quick and easy breads is English Muffin Toasting Bread from the geniuses at King Arthur Flour.
So good. My mouth is watering just thinking of a slice of this bad boy, lightly toasted and slathered with butter (real butter, of course). Heaven! As I was saying to my friend Cara, homemade bread is my kryptonite.
Do you make your own bread? Have a favourite recipe?
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that today is Clean Your Refrigerator Day?
I’ll go out on a limb and assume the creators of this festive day didn’t mean for us to make use of a pail of soapy water and a scrub brush. But rather to empty the containers of fuzzy food, and discard that jar of pickles that’s been hiding at the back of the shelf since Aunt Sadie gave it to you six years ago.
I’ve been known to hang on to foodstuffs longer than recommended. Years ago Son1 had a friend who was following the Paleo diet. So Son1 tried a few recipes that conformed, one of which was a dessert/sweet made with Medjool dates, nuts, and a few other things I don’t recall. Well, as so often happens with recipes, there were a few dates left over. (The sweets were delicious, btw.) Not enough dates to do anything with, really, but, chopped finely, they could be useful in muffins, cookies, or even something savory like a curry. I think my mistake was sliding the slim package of dates on to the shelf under the meat drawer where only slim things would fit. Over time the slim package got shoved to the back of the shelf and forgotten.
I found the dates *cough* a few years later when I cleaned the fridge, with soapy water and scrub brush, in preparation for moving.
What’s the oldest thing in your fridge? Do you abide by best-before dates?