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Fruitcake Makes an Important and Traditional Part of Holiday Fare : Fortunately, Today It Takes Less Time, Effort

December 12, 1985

Fruitcake recipes have changed very little throughout the course of history. Yet making the holiday cakes in colonial America took days and required the help of every family member just to prepare the ingredients.

Sugar came in 10-pound, cone-shaped loaves that needed to be broken, pulverized and sifted. Flour had to be dried by the fireplace, butter washed to remove the salt and spices pounded into powder. Currants needed their stems and stones removed, raisins had to be seeded and all the fruits were chopped by hand.

The fact that people went to this much work certainly indicates they considered fruitcakes a very important part of their holiday fare. Fortunately, today we can prepare these same traditional sweets with much less time and effort.

Bakes in an Hour

That is truly the case with Quick Mix Fruitcake--it uses a packaged quick bread mix for convenience and speed. The loaf bakes in an hour, then brandy is spooned over the warm cake before storage.

Miniature Ruby Fruitcakes are no larger than puffy cookies. They're baked in tiny muffin tins and topped with a sparkling glazed cherry. Another novel shape, Souffled Fruitcakes rise high above the rims of small souffle dishes.

Cranberry Steamed Fruitcake is a spicy soda cake that's almost a pudding. Truly a modern recipe, it can be reheated in a microwave. Then serve warm and flaming with a brandied hard sauce.

QUICK MIX FRUITCAKE

1 egg

3/4 cup brandy

1/2 cup water

1 (7-ounce) package quick date bread mix

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans, halves or chopped

1 cup candied cherries

1 cup mixed candied fruit

1 cup raisins

Combine egg, 1/2 cup brandy and water in large bowl. Stir in bread mix, cinnamon, cloves, nuts, cherries, candied fruit and raisins until well combined. Pour into greased and floured or papered 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes or until wood pick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove from oven and spoon remaining 1/4 cup brandy over warm cake. Cool 15 minutes, then remove cake from pan and cool completely. Makes 1 fruitcake. MINIATURE RUBY FRUITCAKES

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped dried apricots

1 cup mixed candied fruit

1/2 cup chopped candied pineapple

1 cup pecan halves

Brandy

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup candied cherries

Marinate raisins, apricots, mixed fruit, pineapple and nuts in 1/2 cup brandy for at least 2 hours. Cream butter and brown sugar. Mix in egg and lemon peel.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into batter. Fold in marinated fruit and nuts. Spoon into greased miniature muffin tins. Place cherry on top of each.

Bake at 300 degrees 35 minutes. Drizzle with brandy while warm, if desired. Wrap airtight and store in cool place up to 2 months, adding more brandy each week. Makes 24 fruitcakes. SOUFFLEED FRUITCAKES

2 cups dried apricots

1 cup mixed candied fruit

1 cup candied cherries

1 1/2 cups golden raisins

1 cup currants

2 cups whole brazil nuts

1 cup whole almonds

Brandy

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Marinate apricots, mixed fruit, cherries, raisins, currants, brazil nuts and almonds in 1 cup brandy at least 2 hours. Grease 4 (1 1/4-cup) souffle dishes. Place greased wax paper circle in bottom of each dish. Fit foil collar around top of each dish and secure.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Sift over fruit, then stir to coat. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until foamy. Combine gently with fruit and nuts.

Divide batter evenly among prepared dishes. Place pan with water in bottom of oven. Set fruitcakes in pan and bake at 300 degrees 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle each with 2 tablespoons brandy while still warm. Makes 4 fruitcakes. CRANBERRY STEAMED FRUITCAKE

2 eggs

1 cup brandy

1/4 pound ground suet

2 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup raisins

1 cup currants

1 cup walnuts

1 cup cranberries

1/2 cup candied orange peel

1/2 cup candied lemon peel

1 apple, peeled and chopped

Grated peel of 1 orange

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Brandied Hard Sauce

Beat eggs in large bowl. Add 3/4 cup brandy, suet, bread crumbs and brown sugar. Stir in raisins, currants, walnuts, cranberries, candied orange peel, lemon peel, apple and grated orange peel.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. Mix thoroughly into batter. Spoon into buttered 2-quart pudding mold or bowl. Close mold or cover bowl with foil and secure with string.

Place on rack in large pan. Add boiling water, but do not allow to touch mold. Cover and steam 4 hours, adding water as needed. Cake should be firm in center. Remove lid and allow fruitcake to rest 15 minutes before unmolding.

To serve, re-steam or place in microwave until reheated. Heat 1/4 cup brandy, pour over fruitcake and ignite. Serve with Brandied Hard Sauce. Makes 1 fruitcake.

Note: Do not substitute ordinary beef fat for suet. Brandied Hard Sauce

5 tablespoons butter

1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons brandy

Cream butter thoroughly. Beat in sugar gradually. Mix in brandy. Chill. Makes 1 cup sauce.

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