This past week I made our family's traditional fruitcake, Nannie's Darkest Fruitcake, that I've posted the recipe for the last few years and put prominently at the top of the recipe picture list, in case any of you are so inspired. For the first time in awhile I made a double batch, enough for two large round cakes. I baked them up in springform pans with parchment or greased brown paper in the bottom.
The lining is a hint from my mother for us young'uns what have forgotten about greased brown paper to line pans. It works wonderfully. Just remember to grease under as well as on the paper to make sure it will stay in place and be easy to remove. With springform pans there's no need to worry about papering the sides, just a good greasing will be fine.
It was a multiple day job, as I candy my own fruit peels and pineapple. And each of those takes awhile to cut, and simmer (3-5 times) then bathe in syrup, and dry, before rolling in powdered sugar. And then there's the dicing them up in small chunks flouring as you go, so nothing sticks -- too much -- together. The cutting and weighing alone took me two hours.
This year I made the cakes with non-dairy "butter", original flavour Earth Balance margarine. I know many of you are vegan or dairy intolerant, so if you want to try that, it works pretty well. The fruitcake texture is very moist and just a bit crumbly, so that you might need to cut it in larger pieces and lift it with a cake lifter. You won't be getting dainty thin slices, but as good as the taste is, I don't think it will be too much of a hardship. I bathed the cake this year in a rum/leftover pineapple heavy syrup mixture and have to say I prefer it to the liquor alone. Other small changes were using the juice of one tangerine and one lime along with the two lemons. I also used walnuts this year. All changes worked out well.
I made the double batch this year because I wanted enough to give as presents to the family. Since Nannie is gone and her daughters are all getting past the baking age, especially for pounds of fruit to cut and heft-around cake, I'm the last in the family, as far as I know, to make it. As inheritor of the fruitcake trust, I don't want to drop the ball. Even though, with taking care of Mom and all the kitchen duty I do every day, my cooking inspiration muses are sometimes out to lunch.
Well, it's all over now except the best part, and that's the eating. The fruitcakes are now snuggled in their wrapping beds improving their flavour and soon, soon, in a week or two, we all shall have sugarplums.
Merry Christmas and Happy Fruitcake to us, every one!