Friday, January 05, 2007

Fruitcake, Part II; Shoes Again

All week long I've not been able to get myself to bed for a long sleep: the first few nights I simply stayed up too late, but these last two nights I've fallen into a sleep on the couch, then had to pull myself awake and get properly to bed.I couldn't wait for Friday, and now am home and happily settled in for the weekend. Friday, and I'm very tired. Not in a state of near-coma exhaustion, but close. I should be in bed now, but fortified with a good dinner and the New Year's fruitcake, I'm trying to have a bit of an evening here.
I found a large box at my door when I came home; my online shopping treasures had arrived. A side lesson: I took the free ground shipping from these companies and both packages have arrived within a week. Good to know. The snowboots are lovely, but, alas, shorter than I'd thought (I think the given shaft measurement was off). Before deciding to send back or keep, I'll go out to the local Marshall's and see if there is another style to be had that appeals more. They're Sporto Amelias in black, and have much to recommend them: they were comfy right out of the box, and are awfully good-looking. One step into a snow drift, though, and you'd risk snow tumbling in over the top. Not that this is an immediate worry with the globally warmed winter (I use that term traditionally and loosely) we've been having. The ankle boots from Coldwater Creek, are, I think, going back. I risked a three-inch heel, but that's not the problem. The boot is tight on the sides of my right foot, and I don't really cotton up to the concept of "breaking in" a shoe. I wore them for an hour to see how they'd feel and couldn't feel my right foot after half an hour. Feeling returned, but I'm happier now that they're off. Too bad, because they have a nice look.

Here we go. Fruitcake and Baking
(Instructions for preparing the dried fruit and candied ginger, orange or lemon peel are in the previous post below. Since they have to soak up the Cointreau, please read and prepare fruit before making the batter.)

Ingredients for the batter:
3 cups all-purpose flour and more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt (you need salt to help with rising; you can lessen to 1/4 tsp, but don't skip it)
8 ounces (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted (no substitutions)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons dark unsulfured molasses (Martha warns: "not blackstrap")
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (Yes. You read that right. A tablespoon)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
[The original recipe calls for 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts, but since I can't eat them, they're not in my version]

Pan: Use either a 7x3 or 9x2 inch pan. The smaller pan means longer cooking. I use a 9x2 springform pan, which makes getting the fruitcake out very easy. Martha suggests coating the pan with cooking spray and lining with parchment paper, then spraying and flouring the lining. I have never done this, and have just buttered the pan and dusted with flour. My fruitcake browns fast, and this may be why. Martha's method may be best if you don't have a springform pan.


Whisk together flour, baking powder, spices and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle; mix on medium speed until smooth. [I confess that I do not know if a "paddle" is different from the beater that came with my Kitchen Aid.] Mix in eggs, one at a time, molasses and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture; mix until smooth. Mix in fruit and coconut, (and if you're adding them, nuts). The batter gets very heavy and sticky at this point. If you're using a handmixer, you may smell the motor burning...

Pour batter into pan. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about two and a half hours for a 9x2 inch cake or two and three quarters hours for a 7x3 inch cake. [In my experience, it is wise to check for browning; after the first hour or so, I put a loose piece of aluminum foil over the top.]

Remove cake from oven; if desired, brush with up to 1/2 cup of Cointreau (I used 1/4). Unmold cake, let cool. Store, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to three days or in the refridgerator up to one month.

You can cut the cake when it is warm or slightly warm, and it is a delight, but it will be crumbly. We enjoyed it this way on New Year's Day, when it had come out of the oven three or four hours before we had dessert. After some fridge or settling time, it is easier to cut.

Well, it is almost eleven. One of the cats is sleeping in the rather large Coldwater creek box, and my eyes are starting to close as well. Good night all.

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