As Jim rummaged through some of his mother’s mementos, he ran across the fruitcake recipe her mother’s mother’s mother – I think – used to make. He asked, “Do you think we could try and make a batch?”
My first thought was of those pretty little tins with the cakes inside that nobody really likes to eat. But then I was informed that there’s fruitcake and then there’s FRUITCAKE! So, we decided to try a batch.
The first task was to try and decipher the recipe. I didn’t have a clue how much a shot glass of whiskey equaled in cups, and the measurements for dry ingredients were listed in pounds. A conversion chart would help with this challenge, but then I had to actually figure out what some of the ingredients were. Citron and glazed – not candied – fruit had never been a staple in my pantry.
With nearly $100 worth of glazed fruit, dried fruit and nuts, I was ready to start. I proceeded to dump all the fruit, nuts, coconut and jelly together, adding just enough flour so everything wouldn’t stick together in a clump. I graduated to larger mixing bowls three times until I had my extra large mixing bowl brimming with fruit and nuts.
Making the batter was actually a cinch although I couldn’t possible see how the small bowl of batter would be enough to mix with all the fruit and nuts. But, after a lot of elbow grease to mix everything, I had 26 little loaf pans sitting on the counter waiting to become little fruitcakes. This was eight pans more than my oven would accommodate, so I baked them in two batches.
Mission accomplished? Not yet. After they were cool, the cakes had to be basted on the tops and sides with whiskey, wrapped in plastic wrap and put in a cool place to allow the liquid to soak in. Our front porch offered the perfect place. This process was repeated each day for five days before they could be taste-tested.
Jim could hardly wait as he sliced into one and took his first bite. One look at his face and I knew we had re-created a sweet memory from his past.
Skeptically, I sampled some. It tasted like nothing I had ever tried before – in a good way!
So, for any brave souls out there who would like to try some fruitcakes of their own, here’s the recipe. Have fun!
HOFFMAN’S FRUITCAKE RECIPE
4 cups white sugar
3/4 pound butter
6 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoon allspice
10 eggs (beaten lightly)
1 1/2 cups milk
Fifth whiskey (1/4 cup for batter, rest for basting)
1 pound raisins
1 pound currents
1 pound chopped dates
1/2 pound slivered almonds
1 1/2 pounds English walnuts
1 lb. diced citron
1/4 pound orange peel
1/4 pound lemon peel
1/2 pound glazed pineapple
1 pound red glazed cherries
1/2 pound green glazed cherries
1 bag coconut
1/2 pint strawberry preserves
4 large containers chopped, glazed mixed fruit
(the candied fruit can usually only be found from Halloween through Christmas)
1. Put all fruit and nuts in a very large bowl and add enough flour to coat so it all doesn’t stick together in a large ball.
2. In separate bowl beat sugar and butter together.
3. Add eggs and beat in.
4. Add milk, whiskey and spices to sugar mixture, mixing thoroughly.
5. Add flour and baking powder and stir in.
6. Add batter to fruit and nut mixture and thoroughly coat.
7. Spray 26 small 3-by-6-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and divide batter between all.
8. Bake at 300 degrees until done. It all depends on the size pan you use. Use the toothpick method to test for doneness, usually somewhere around 50 to 60 minutes for the small ones. If your oven cannot accommodate all at once, put second batch in refrigerator until ready to bake.
9. Remove from pans and let cool on rack. When cool, brush top and sides with whiskey then wrap in plastic wrap. Store in cool place like unheated porch. Repeat the whiskey basting for 4 or 5 days then taste test. Whenever the flavor is as potent as you want with the whiskey, they are done. Wrap each one in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil and freeze for up to one year or use right away.