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Microwave . . .

Traditional Fruitcake Recipes

December 11, 1986|DIANA WILLIAMS HANSEN | Hansen is a Louisville-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving

Fruitcake is a subject that most microwave cookbooks gloss over lightly, in part because it is a seasonal food, but also because microwaving fruitcake can be tricky. The fruit adds density to the batter, which, in turn, dictates a lower power cooking level just as with the conventional oven. The resulting microwaving time can cause the fruit to overcook.

In testing the following fruitcake recipes, I found that using a tube pan helps the batter cook evenly. If you can't get one, substitute a bundt pan. Almost all lines of microwave utensils carry a bundt pan.

When preparing the pan, substitute finely crushed graham crackers instead of flour in the grease-and-flour stage. This is an easy technique, and it gives a light brown color to the finished crust. When "baking" in the microwave, place a microwave trivet or an overturned saucer on the floor of the oven as a "shelf" for the item. This will allow the microwaves to reach the underside--the most critical area.

Although fruitcakes are microwaved uncovered, it's useful to cover the top with plastic wrap during the last five minutes of cooking if the top has not become dry.

With conventionally baked fruitcakes, the last area to cook is the center of the cake, but in a microwave the most critical area seems to be the underside of the cake closest to the tube. For this reason, I always invert the cooled fruitcake directly onto the microwaveable plate. Then, if necessary, it can be returned--its top covered with plastic wrap--to the microwave set on MEDIUM.

Depending on the size of the undercooked area, you might need to continue cooking the cake five or even as much as 10 more minutes. If a few small areas of glossy-looking batter remain on top, they will become set and dry as the cake cools.

Just as with traditionally baked fruitcakes, microwaved fruitcakes are heavy and somewhat dry after cooking. In fact, if you add too much moisture or richness to the batter, the cake won't be sturdy enough to hold up all the fruit. You can moisten fruitcakes with brandy or other liquor, if desired, or with a fruit syrup such as the one that follows in Light Coconut Fruitcake. After the cakes are aged, they will become more moist and chewy.

Store microwaved fruitcakes in the refrigerator up to four weeks. For longer storage, keep them in the freezer.

LIGHT COCONUT FRUITCAKE

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups chopped mixed candied fruit

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs (about 4 square crackers)

1/2 cup orange juice

Combine butter, coconut, flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, eggs, fruit and nuts in large mixing bowl. Mix to blend. Mixture will initially be stiff, but will soften as it is mixed.

Grease 8- to 12-cup microwave tube or bundt pan and coat with graham cracker crumbs. Pour batter into pan and place pan in oven on microwave trivet, inverted microwave saucer or inverted microwave baking dish. Microwave on MEDIUM (50% power), rotating 1/4 turn every 5 minutes, until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, 25 to 30 minutes.

Place pan directly on heatproof counter or wooden board (not on cooling rack) and cool 15 minutes, then unmold cake.

Stir together orange juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in 1-quart measuring cup. Microwave on HIGH 3 to 6 minutes until boiling in all areas and sugar is dissolved. Spoon onto cake.

Cool cake completely. Wrap cake in double thickness of plastic wrap or in foil, freeze or store in refrigerator up to 4 weeks. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Note: For more orange flavor and moister cake, double orange juice and sugar syrup. After cake has cooked and is completely cool, return cake to mold and pour hot syrup over cake. Let syrup soak into cake before unmolding again.

DARK JEWELED FRUITCAKE

12 ounces pitted dates, chopped (about 3 cups)

1/2 pound pecan or walnut halves, or combination (scant 3 cups)

1 (10-ounce) jar red maraschino cherry halves

1 (6-ounce) jar whole green maraschino cherries

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs (about 4 square crackers)

1/4 cup brandy, optional

Combine dates, nuts, cherries, flour, brown sugar, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, eggs and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Mixture will initially be stiff, but will soften as it is mixed.

Grease 8- to 12- cup microwave tube or bundt pan and coat with graham cracker crumbs. Pour batter into pan and place pan in oven on microwave trivet, inverted microwave saucer or inverted microwave baking dish. Microwave on MEDIUM (50% power), rotating 1/4 turn every 5 minutes until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, 25 to 30 minutes.

Place pan directly on heat-proof counter or wooden board (not on cooling rack) 15 minutes, then unmold cake. Let cool completely. Drizzle cake with brandy.

Wrap in double thickness of plastic wrap or in foil and freeze or store in refrigerator up to 4 weeks. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

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