There's a Fruitcake for Everybody this Christmas!
There's a fruitcake for everybody....there's a fruitcake for everyone! I'm still memorizing the song Fruitcake by Eraserheads, the 90s top rock band here in the Philippines (I can't share it on YouTube due to copyright content). And I'm still concocting additional ingredients on the fruitcake I'm making. After a week's hiatus (due to some errands, here and there, harvesting rice is still going on before Thanksgiving-we have our own version here in the archipelago, too!), I hope I can share my recipe on time.
Flashback...At first, I'm afraid to make a simple furitcake onboard ship. With much encouragement from my Greek cook in 2001 (my first job overseas), I was able to do justice with the copied recipe on book. He further said that a cook must be original on his own by simply modifying one recipe according to one's liking.
Good idea, I said to myself. I can do whatever I can , with lots of availbale ingredients from the provision room, I mean different kinds of fruits that are often ignored by my fellow seafarers due to over storage. I must utilize those fresh fruits before it gets spoiled or rotten. So, fruitcake it is. Will it be the talk over meals or not? Probably, one of the guys will like it or request for another one. Sailors eat what's available in the galley, so, I may try making one, too.
The secrets of making fruitcake were revealed to me by my Greek cook. He said that I must take into consideration the following:
- batter - A traditional fruitcake is usually cooked on load pan. You can also use round cake pan if you like. I'll stick to the first. The batter is usually made up of creamed butter and sugar; then, beaten eggs (don't separate the whites but strain it for clarity); flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon being mix together. The technique of mixing the dry ingredients with the liquid ingredients should be in alternate mood, along with molasses and milk ( you can use honey if no molasses is available). What I did was I put the batter into the loaf or bread rectangular pan (try the medium size first, usually 11 x 5 inches with 4 inches depth).
- nuts - Traditional nuts include, walnuts, pecans, and almonds. Chop it coarsely, not too tiny or not too large.
- fruits - Dried fruits are best suited for making fruitcake, You can choose any of the following: dried dates, mangoes, currants, cranberries, and the like. I noticed that most of thesedried fruits have sour-sweet taste. I usually add dried grapes or prunes if not one of those dried fruits are available. I also include orange zest or the peeling (cut into small squares). Soaking it into little amount of dark rum (as in just sprinkle or spray it on those dried fruits but not submerge it) will heightened its taste, at least 24 hours.
- Baking - must be slowly but surely, I may say. 324 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) in a preheated oven will suit your baking for about 45 minutes or so.
- Ripening or the soaking of rum on the finished product or the fruitcake wil take 10 days or months to make it decadent or tangy or ripened to the taste.
How to Cook Classic Christmas Meals : Traditional Fruit Cake Recipe c/o expertvillage
Travel Man's Fruitcake
With my apron and red-brimmed hairnet, I gathered the following ingredients for my: Fruitcake a la Travel Man. I'll be making a fruitcake on a medium-sized loaf pan (commercially available, like 11x5 x 4 inches as in LxWxT). I have to put grease on it. I use melted butter by brushing it on the pan with little dusting of all-purpose flour. Two loaf pans will be needed for the portioning of this recipes.
1 piece unmelted butter, usually 350 grams in rectangular pack
2 cups brown sugar
6 pieces of eggs
6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon iodized salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
NUTS/ DRIED FRUIT PRESERVES:
100 grams walnuts, roasted and chopped coarsely
100 grams pecans, chopped coarsely
100 grams almonds, chopped coarsely
100 grams dates, preserved, dried and chopped coarsely
100 grams dried ripe mango, chopped coarsely
100 grams dried grapes or prunes
100 grams orange peel
(Note: Nuts and preserves should be soaked into dark rhum for 24 hours. You can set aside prunes---it has its own winelike taste already)
1/2 cup molasses or honey
4 tablespoons milk, use UHT (ulta-high treated) fresh milk if possible
1/2 cup dark rum
- Preheat the oven, usually 165 degrees Celsius. It should be always this way so that the batter of the fruitcake will be cooked evenly.
- Soften first the unsalted butter with the brown sugar, gradually adding each egg until mixed evenly. The technique is to cut it with two knives until squared into small pieces. Using an electric mixer will evenly mix it to the brown sugar with soft peaks rising; then add the eggs.
- Sift the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour (APF), baking soda, salt and cinnamon powder.
- Mix the liquid ingredients, alternately with molasses or honey and flour mixture. Settle for 5 to 10 minutes on the greased loaf pans. Don't mix the rum first. It will be used to braise the loaf when nearly cooked.
- Add the mixture of nuts and dried fruit preserves plus orange peel on top of the batter. Don't mix. It will just settle slowly while baking.
- Bake for 45 minutes or one hour or until done. Prick with clean toothpick to know when it is done already.
- When done (the brownish color on the loaf's surface), turn the loaf pan upside down over a clean cheese cloth. Let it cool. then wrap it with cooking or parchment paper and cheesecloth for storage until the Christmas eve or during New year's eve..
- From day to day, baste it with the dark rum and let it be soaked until you can no longer bear to taste it on Christmas Day! Enjoy eating, and Happy Holidays everyone!!!
Want some fruitcake?
Making a recipe is not an exact science
Concocting a recipe is a product of trial-and-error- attempts of home economic enthusiasts or doting mothers trying to please their husbands, In our modern world, we can easily get a recipe of a food item online without delay, Juct click here and there, and presto! You got what you're looking for.
In the actual work I've experienced in ship's galley, a cook must not rely all on books, in recipes dictating the measurement of this and that ingredients. You'll be totally confused, I tell you.
If you really love cooking, those recipes will just be your bases in cooking your menu for the week, for months and for your entire contract.
I admit. I just memorize all the ingredients but seldom measure all it's ingredients. For example when making basic loaf bread or buns, I don't rely on the book's dictates alone. There are times that the yeast will not rise doubly due to cold weather, so you have to double it. There are factors that affect all the ingredients when you cook at different time zones, elevations of countries or its location, the weather and the like.
So, one recipe will not be as good as in USA or in Canada, in UK and the entire Europe at one setting only. There are adjustments to be made.
Plus the equipment. There are ships with incomplete utensils, or the machines were not working; so, I have to whisk the egg, butter and sugar manually. Mix and knead bread manually, afterwards.
I had to think quickly when doing such activities. So, making a recipe, my portioning and my own ingredients based from available sources, as in substituiton will be the best solution. I have to make of what's available in my workplace, in the provision room.
The result? They like it. Sometimes, they will say, this is a new taste, travel man, huh?!
Okay. I'll take that as a compliment.