Who you calling a fruitcake?

In our house Thursday has started to lend itself towards baking day.  I guess it’s generally because it’s the only free day in the week that the kid’s schedule’s don’t dictate us leaving the house. The other reason is because by Thursday the tins are generally empty and it’s nice to stock them up again for the weekend.

I have always had my tried and true recipes, some of those have been family ones passed down generations, others are ones that I have been given from friends and some have been some that I have found online and adapted them to how I prefer.

The Fruit Loaf

Today I thought it would be good to make a fruit loaf, they always seem to go down well in our house.  But what makes a good loaf/cake?  I prefer my loaves fresh, moist and laden with fruit.  I love my fruit cakes rich, left for a month or so and continuously basted in brandy or sherry, naked with no icing.

I have to say, I have had some pretty nasty fruit cakes in my time.  There is nothing worse than a dry tasteless cake that is heavy and reminiscent of that old doorstop your grandparents used to stop the front door from slamming.  Fruit cake has had a bad rep for quite some time and hit an all-time low in the early 90’s when Johnny Carson mocked it on American TV, saying that there was only one fruit cake that got passed around from family to family.   It has been the butt of jokes for decades now.  In the States there are various contests dedicated to the throwing of the fruit cake, and if you don’t have your own, you can rent one for 25c.

But why does it have such a bad rep?  Well let’s be honest, there are some pretty bad fruit cakes around.  There are a lot of people who are put off by the Marzipan icing, others don’t like the fruit, or the nuts, some people are just too fussy J  I’m lucky enough to have had some amazing recipes passed onto me from both my Nan and my Husband’s Gran, both very different in there own ways.  And I must say that I am a sucker for anything with dried fruit in it, glace cherries you say; I’m there!

Strangely, misconceptions about the life cycle of the fruitcake inspire many of the jokes. John, who has worked in the family bakery for almost 40 years, says, “I believe the reason a lot of people don’t like fruitcake is because they eat them when they’re fresh. They forget that fruitcake is supposed to be made, wrapped in an airtight container and then put away.” Giving the cake time to set allows the flavors to blend and achieve their full potential”  – Ira S. Womble Jr., 70, and his son John, 44, are the second- and third-generation owner/operators of the Georgia Fruit Cake Company

I’ve got to say that one thing that would put most people of baking a fruit cake or a loaf is the cost involved in the amount of fruit needed to make that perfect bake, until now.  The recipe that I have used is very economical and goes a long way, without compromising on the taste.  I have adapted it slightly and sometimes I add a can of crushed pineapple, which gives it a nice sweetness and moistness, just for a change.

So yes, I might be in the minority, some might even call me a fruitcake, but I just can’t help myself, there is something about that perfect slice …. mmmm.

Trying something new – the Chewy Chocolate Chip Bickie

For a few years I have had the same recipe for chocolate chip bickies, the Edmonds one, which I added a little more butter to.  But it wasn’t quite right.  I wanted something a little more spectacular, something that when you bit into, the chocolate would drive you insane, and with that chewy texture that you generally only get from specialty or boutique bakeries.

I have tried a few recipes recently, and some boast to be the best you’ll ever make, but they have never lived up to the  description, and have quite frankly been rather disappointing.

You would think that there wouldn’t be too many ways to make the common chocolate chip bickie, however it appears there are many ways to skin this chocolate cat.  With eggs, without eggs.  Condensed milk, or not.  Brown sugar, white sugar, both.  Sea Salt sprinkled on top (what?!!)

So after a bit of searching and a bit of testing (how horrible), I have found a pearler.  It’s got that perfect amount of crunch/chewy factor and a ridiculous amount of chocolate chips (I used drops).  Great result for a first attempt.  It’s the kind of recipe that  I want to play with a bit more, practice using different types of chocolate , white, dark, chunky …… nom nom nom.

It’s a winner and is totally going to be in my tool belt from now on.  Give them a go, they are amazing.  Make extra and stash them in your freezer, if they make it that far.  How awesome would it be to surprise your guests with freshly baked Choc Chip Bickies in just fifteen minutes!!??

Well that was our afternoon, hence to say that supper after our dinner tonight was beautiful.

Happy Baking

LL

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