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Your Cake Is in the Mail : Fruitcake: Better Than Its Reputation

October 25, 1990

Rose Levy Beranbaum, food writer and author of the award-winning cookbook "The Cake Bible , " described her creation as: ". . . the sort of fruitcake that has more batter than fruit and is so moist it can almost be described as a pudding. Molasses provides the slightly bitter edge to temper the sweetness of the glaceed fruit. The rum flavor comes through as aromatic but subdued. It took years to perfect this recipe because each version had to ripen for three months before tasting, and many months would pass between tasting and subsequent rebaking.

"The texture and flavor of this cake are at their best when baked in small pans, which also makes serving the small, rich portions easier. Decorative baking molds such as the Turk's head provide attractive shapes for gift giving."

Beranbaum's recipe is also featured in her forthcoming new cookbook "Rose's Christmas Cookies." She named it Tiny Fruitcake Gems. She suggests piping the batter into greased and floured 1/4 inch diameter fluted tartlet tins to make 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

--MINNIE BERNARDINO

LESS FRUITY FRUITCAKE

(From "The Cake Bible"

by Rose Levy Beranbaum)

1/2 cup small mixed candied fruit

2 tablespoons candied citron

1/4 cup dried currants

1/2 cup broken pecans

1/2 cup dark rum

1/2 cup unsifted cake flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1/4 cup unsulphured molasses (or 2 tablespoons each molasses and light corn syrup)

2 tablespoons milk

At least 24 hours ahead mince candied fruit and citron (food processor sprayed lightly with non-stick vegetable spray works beautifully). Soak with currants and nuts in 1/4 cup rum. Cover tightly and store at room temperature.

In small bowl whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt to combine. In large mixing bowl cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg then flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with molasses and milk. Add candied fruit mixture with soaking rum and beat until blended.

Scrape batter into greased and floured 3 1/2- to 4-cup baking mold (or 6x2-inch cake pan) and bake at 325 degrees 40 to 45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched and just begins to shrink from sides of pan and tester comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan 10 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons rum. Place piece plastic wrap large enough to wrap cake on counter. Moisten piece cheesecloth also large enough to wrap cake with 1 tablespoon rum. Place cheesecloth on plastic wrap, unmold cake onto it, and sprinkle top with remaining 1 tablespoon rum. Drape top and sides of hot cake with cheesecloth and plastic wrap, pressing closely to cake.

Let cake cool to room temperature before covering tightly with heavy-duty foil. Place cake in airtight container such as small tin or heavy-duty plastic container. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Note: Keep at cool temperature 3 months without opening container. This will allow rum to mellow. For longer storage, unwrap cake and sprinkle with additional tablespoon rum or else aromatic edge of rum will dull and cake will become dry. Repeat procedure every 3 months.

Baked in plain cake pan, cake can be covered with rolled fondant and decorated.

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