Friday, December 18, 2009

The Fruitcake Wreath

mis en place

In my childhood, the Christmas fruitcake was always made by my Aunt, and like Barbara's father's, it was stashed to mellow for months. It was only later in life that I realized I didn't really like the cloying sweet candied cherries, and taste and texture of the citron; from that time I have assiduously avoided fruitcake.

At this time, however, trusting Rose once again, I determined to be adventurous. I sent for the Parisian cherries, and mixed orange and lemon peel glaceed fruit from ChefShop at a very dear price, as others have noticed. When they arrived, it was tortuous to keep from consuming more of these delectables than I needed for the recipe required. As instructed, I macerated the fruit and raisins in a glass quart canning jar with the rum, turning them daily. It was pleasant to walk by and see the sparkling, colorful mixture resting on the tray where the mis en place was coming together. Next on the tray came the toasted nuts. The Muscovado dark brown sugar, and later the creamed butter; the eggs. Flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

When I first saw the picture of Rose's NordicWare Wreath pan, I felt happy to see pinecones and the large ribbon. I sent for one. If this cake was as fabulous as I thought and hoped it would be, it should have that special pan. I sprayed it with Baker's Joy. Since that time I have noted several comments about how to use it for other holiday cakes; for instance, ButterYum suggests an eggnog cake, decorating the bow etc. This is very exciting!

Now that the fruits were happily macerated and ready to go, off we went. We followed the directions; quickly the batter came together. When, after about 65 minutes, the cake emerged from the oven, it was perfect at the rim of the mould.
It received it's first dousing of 1/4 cup of rum while still in the pan, and remained there until it was completely cooled. In the meantime, I readied 36-inch strips of cheesecloth soaked in another 1/2 cup rum, and cut long strips of saran wrap, and double-strength foil, with which to more securely wrap the cake for storage and/or shipping.
The cake is a surprise Christmas gift for my friends Suzan and David in Northern California, where I hope they will enjoy it with hot buttered rum, or eggnog, by their wood-burning porcelain stove, Alice. I will leave a blank here in the post so that they can send a picture for us to see what a slice looked like after being cut.

*Spirit guards this spot, awaiting a picture of a cake slice, and critique from Suzan *

When inverted, the cake looked beautiful, perfect, and so rich. However, after each dousing it looked even more lovely as the fruit began to peek through the cake like tiny, scattered jewels.
The rum-soaked cheesecloth made an etheral shroud,

and then the plastic wrap, and then the foil, and then into the box filled with bubble-pak, double-boxed, and so on.

Today it finally shipped. I hope it arrives in one piece, but even if not, chances are the resulting pieces will be delicious! The most fun will be that she doesn't know a thing about it. I do love surprises!

Oops - as I write just now, a horrible thought - Quickly, I went to my husband who reassured me that he had thought to write, 'This Side Up' and 'Fragile' on the carton. Without it, there might have been the wrong kind of surprise.

What to my wondering
eyes should appear . . .


love, Spirit

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Classic Carrot Cake

Like others who have expressed in the blog their not-too-strong feelings of excitement at the prospect of baking a carrot cake, I felt the same tinges of disinterest. Of course, with the rousing results of our cakes thus far, I might have known better. Baking the cakes included in our Bake-Through agenda is a joy. No matter which cake is presented in Rose Levy Beranbaum's new book, "Rose's Heavenly Cakes," there seems to be something unique and exceptional about it. It would follow, then, that this 'Classic Carrot Cake' would be very special, indeed.

mis en place
Actually, this was a simple cake to prepare. The most difficult task was shredding three pounds of carrots. I used the medium-large-grating side of a box grater. This, of course, was not a difficult task at all, except I finally found it necessary to bind up my little finger; after that it was a breeze. I did forget to add one-half the amount of raisins. They do add a lot to the cake; next time I will remember. The molasses of the the dark brown Muscovado sugar lends a great depth of flavor. The color of the cake is thrilling. My cake was so moist that it was almost loosely crumbly. I don't know if that is the result of something I didn't do, or did do. I haven't seen reference to that on our blog, but if anyone has curiosity or answer, please let me know. Perhaps that is its nature. Thanks. Since this cake has the merits of simple and the most flavorful carrot cake I have ever encountered, to me it is special. I will definitely make it again - with all of it's raisins.

mis en place
In my opinion, the Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting was dreamy and creamy, luscious, and just the right thing for this cake. Particularly dreamy with its white chocolate, marrying so well with the carrots' flavor. And, once again, very simple to prepare. I used my new La Bomba bowl to melt the chocolate.

Since the creation of this cake fell during Chanuka, we invited our friends, Leah and Rosty, who observe this holiday, to join us for celebration. They thoroughly enjoyed the cake, and we enjoyed the Festival of Lights together.

But, it doesn't stop there, I must confess. Actually, it came to pass, in the dark of that very night, that I crept ~~~ into the kitchen and > attacked my precious, furtively- saved slice of cake . . . mmmm! Smiling, I returned the remaining half of it to the fridge and left, turning out the light. Next, a flash, in that instant himself the Devil, fancifully attired in ruffles of chocolate, buttercreams and spun sugar, appeared and intoned, "You must immediately hasten back into that kitchen, and devour the other half of that slice of cake"! SO, but of course, I did and . . . Yum! [Shhhh. Please don't tell].

'Mercurious Sublimatus' assures he most certainly would have done the same!