Well, I have to admit that, as fruitcakes go, this one was far superior to any other I have eaten. To illustrate the point, Jim not only ate the one piece he was required to eat by virtue of his position as Spouse of Baker (SOB), but he voluntarily took a second slice: the first time in his life he has ever taken seconds on fruitcake. And that was with the minimally rummy version. That is, I soaked the fruit in rum, but neither brushed on additional rum when the cake was done nor soaked it in even more rum for storage of up to a year (!).
I'm just as glad that I ended up liking it because it's not cheap to make. Woody was going to order Rose's fancy glaceed orange and lemon rind, and we were planning to share the expense, but we chickened out when he saw that the price had gone up, and that one of us was going to have to take out a second mortgage to get the real thing. I was able to get pretty good candied rinds from Kowalski's, but I wish I'd gone ahead and ordered the French stuff. Even the Kowalski's fruit wasn't cheap, and, with the crazy amounts of pecans and walnuts, as well as the rum and butter, this is not something you'd want to bake if you were on a strict food budget.
Although this is not on the "Quick and Easy" list (I guess it fails in the "quick" category because the fruit needs to start soaking in rum a week ahead of time, and it's not ready to eat for 12 hours - or longer - after baking), it's plenty easy. Once you mix up the glaceed fruit and golden raisins with rum, the rest takes little skill. Also, it was entertaining during the week to watch the fruit soak up the rum, although I'll admit to being rather easily entertained. I kept picturing the little pieces of fruit becoming steadily more soused until I almost expected to hear hiccups coming from their plastic nest. (I didn't have a glass canning jar, so I used a plastic storage container with a tight-fitting lid, and kept turning it upside-down and back).
Unless I missed a sentence somewhere, you don't even have to chop the nuts. All you have to do is give them their customary seven-minute toast in the oven. The only quibble I have with the recipe is the rather mysterious (to me, anyway) directions about heating the butter just until it comes to a "creamy consistency." I got it soft but not melted--just right, I thought, but then I read the next sentence, which instructs you to mix the "melted butter" with the brown sugar. This confused me a bit, but I honestly don't think it could matter much if the butter was melted or only creamily soft, because quite a few other ingredients get mixed in before it's done.
Three eggs are added, one at a time; then flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. The tipsy fruit gets absorbed, and, finally, the mountain of nuts.
The directions say that the batter will come almost to the top of the pan, and indeed it does.
Then it bakes for a full hour, which is long enough to clean up the pans and get some work done. Good thing I took a timer up to my computer room because 60 minutes later I'd already forgotten that I had a project going. When I heard the timer, I couldn't figure out what was going on, but I ran down to the kitchen before the cake burned.
I am quite proud of myself for using my new thermometer, which works much better than any of the others I've tried, and it was particularly helpful with this cake. When I first checked, the outside edges were getting pretty brown, but the thermometer told me it had another 8 degrees to go. Five minutes later, it hit 190 degrees Fahrenheit right on the nose, so I hurried it out of the oven.
Ten minutes to cool in the pan, and then the moment of truth--when a molded pan gets inverted and you see whether anything is left sticking to the pan. I was lucky this time.
After it cooled, I moved it to a glass serving plate. I realized I couldn't write about it without tasting it, so I cut into it despite the warning to wait for at least 12 hours to be able to cut it. After about 3 hours, I sliced into it. It wasn't perfect, but good enough to provide sample pieces for Jim and me.
I'm happy that I decided to get the wreath pan. It was an extravagance, but this isn't the only cake that I can bake in it--in fact, I'm thinking that maybe every Christmas calls for a wreath cake, and every year it should be different.
Last year for Christmas, I made an eggnog pound cake, and it would have tasted as good but been even cuter in this pan. I'm a little surprised that Rose didn't have us fancy up this cake by outlining the wreath ribbon in red buttercream, but I'm also grateful. I'm still worried about the crazy pine cone fondant cake that's coming up in just a few weeks.
Rachel: "I normally don’t love fruitcakes, but this was pretty good. I think I was so focused on the nuts that I didn’t get overwhelmed by the fruit, which is usually my objection to fruitcakes."
Jodie: "The fruitcake is delicious. I like the spices--what are they?" [She recognized the flavor when I told her it was rum].
Cyndi: "Good fruitcake. The nuts really make it--there's usually too much fruit in a fruitcake, but this has good balance."