Saturday, December 19, 2015

BAKE // Friends & Fruitcake


After a very stressful few weeks, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. After turning down two other schools, and waiting half an eternity, I heard from my top choice graduate school. I'll be going to get my Master's degree next fall! It was difficult to get excited about Christmas with the threat of being turned down looming over me, but now I want to listen to all of my Christmas records on repeat. At my most stressed, I used baking fruitcakes, which are a surprisingly labor intensive treat, as an exercise in gratitude.


Before this year I had never actually tasted a fruitcake. I had always thought there were bricks speckled with unnaturally colorful fruit. Christmas is my favorite time to bake and cook, but I have never thought to make on before this year. What inspired me was an article in the magazine Taproot. In it a family (hesitantly) uses these cakes to get to know their new neighbors, and are pleasantly surprised by the reaction. The story inspired me to make my own variation of their fruitcakes for the people in my life I am most grateful for. This year I have been lucky enough to become friends with some amazing people, and I was excited to share this with them.


SNAP Fruitcake:
1 1/2 lb dried figs
1/2 lb golden raisins
1/2 lb dried pear
1/2 lb candied orange peel
1/2 lb pecans
1/4 lb pine nuts
3/4 cup of Art in the Age Snap liquor (if you can't find this, use a combination of Grand Marnier and bourbon)
1/2 lb butter
1/2 lb light brown sugar
6 eggs separated
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp mace
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup of Snap liquor for brushing the cakes with

Dice the figs, pears. and orange peels until roughly the size of the raisins. Mix all of the dried fruit with the nuts and pour the liquor over the mixture and let rest for twelve hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium. Add the egg yolks one at a time. On the lowest speed, add the flour and spices. Once everything is mixed together, add a cup of your dried fruit and nuts to start. Add the remaining dried fruit by hand (don't put your mixer through the stress of mixing all of the fruit in). Whisk egg whites until they hold firm peaks, and then fold into the batter.

Line four 6" round cake pans with parchment paper and divide the batter between them evenly. Brush the tops of the cakes with milk, and then bake for 2 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before removing the parchment paper. Brush with more liquor before serving. To store or ship, wrap the cakes in liquor soaked cheesecloth and then again in plastic wrap.