Fruit cakes!

Every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving I start to think about my holiday baking, and sometimes I even start it. This year was no exception and the holiday baking for me starts with fruit cake. Of course I use Granny Marvel’s recipe because that is the one I know my dad loves. I make at least two for him, maybe one or two for the office, one for us and one for “whatever.” Granny would have made her fruit cakes in loaf pans lined with greased paper. I make mine in mini loaf size because even the nicest of friends doesn’t really need a large fruit cake, now do they? This year I saw some cute mini loaf-cello wrap kits from Martha Stewart so I decided to give them a go as well.

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I use the basic candied fruit mix from the grocery store, a combination of raisins and currants, and chopped dates. The first step is to boil up the raisins, dates and shortening, plus water for 20 minutes. The mixture begins to smell delicious pretty quickly and I always find myself thinking “ah, this is what Christmas smells like!”

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While that is boiling I measure out the dry ingredients. I sift them together dry so they are well combined, then once the hot mixture has cooled, I pour it over the dry slowly and mix it with a spoon. If you use a high sided mixing bowl and a heavy spoon you won’t need a mixer.

Each mini loaf was filled about 2/3 and we baked them on a cookie sheet. The “pans”are cardboard, so completely disposable. I did spray them with baking spray just to be on the safe side.

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Each was topped with two halves of a walnut, except that one where I ran out. Don’t look, don’t look! :-) once baked I waited until the next day and began the daily dousing. I use about a tablespoon of brandy, but the recipe says “brandy, rum, whiskey, whatever” so use what you like. Them more moist your fruitcake the better it tastes, but if you use too much liquor it can turn to sludge. Stick with a tablespoon a day for about five days. If you have your fruit cake stored away or frozen, before serving douse it with a splash of whatever to freshen the flavors.

Now, as to the cello wrap that came with the paper pans, they were a little difficult. They come with a ribbon tie only and I ended up using twist ties to hold the bags closed before adding the ribbon. The cello is not quite long enough to make the pretty pouf in Martha’s picture. But, once the ribbon was tied on it did look cute.

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After the baking my house is permeated with the wonderful fragrance of the holiday, from the kitchen to the farthest bedroom. It is a comforting smell that always makes me think of family and happiness. I hope that you find a recipe that signifies the holidays for you, and that it brings you great happiness to prepare it for your family and friends!

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