The fruitcake bakers were a small but loyal group, and I think we all ended up being very fond of this great fruit-and-nut cake, even those of us for whom the word "fruitcake" conjures up very unpleasant connotations.
I've already had Faithy as Featured Baker, so it's not her turn to receive that dubious honor, but I do have to give her a special shout-out for her rendition of the fruitcake, which she baked in pyrex bowls, covered with marzipan, and decorated with intricate fondant Christmas trees and snowflakes. The "cake" part of her fruitcake is lighter in color than most because she forgot to get brown sugar. I'm glad she includes details like this--otherwise, I'd accuse her of not being an "amateur" baker at all.
Nicola gets to be the FEATURED BAKER this week--a reward for making the most astonishing leap of faith. It's not that Nicola doesn't like fruitcake--far from it. She loves "moist, fruity, slightly boozy" cakes. What she doesn't like is nuts. Folks, this recipe calls for 6 cups--almost a pound and a half--of nuts: a mixture of pecans and walnuts. Plunging ahead with a nut-laden cake when you're a nut-hating person is investing a great deal of faith in Rose, I think, a faith that was justified when Nicola decided that, despite the nuts, it tasted "grand." "Divine" was her final verdict.
Nicola's blog is also worth looking at to see how she made her own batch of candied citrus peel. Maybe it's because I've never done it, but this seems like a big deal to me, even though Nicola swears it's not difficult, and she gives a link to instructions on how to do it. If it's not really hard, making your own peel would probably be a wonderful alternative to buying the pricey French ones. She added grapefruit peel to the specified orange and lemon, and used a mixture of three raisins: golden, ruby, and flame. (I'm not familiar with ruby and flame raisins, but they sound beautiful). As usual, I'm struck by the imagination that you Bakers use when you bake your versions of the recipe of the week, as I'm a read-the-recipe-three times and DON'T DEVIATE kind of person.
We are smack in the middle of holiday baking now, with the fruitcake last week, the Chanukah cake this week, and the holiday pinecone cake coming up. Jana requested the English gingerbread cake sometime in December, and that also seems appropriately holiday-ish in spirit. Note that the gingerbread cake should be made 24 hours ahead of time, so you can save time by making it the night before a party and having dessert taken care of well ahead of the time that the doorbell rings.
Any questions about any of the upcoming cakes? The Heavenly Bakers have been great at coming to the rescue with answers.
We have two new bakers this week. Saira calls herself a novice baker and has just started her blog, but she's taking a cake decorating class and is very enthusiastic about teaching herself more about baking. Saira, you've come to the right place.
Louise is also a new blogger, but not a new baker. After every recipe, she asks herself whether the recipe is MIA ("make it again"), and that's the question she'll be asking of every Heavenly Cake that she tries.
I have removed a few people from the list of Heavenly Bakers because they haven't baked and I haven't heard from them. Several people have let me know when they think they may not be able to bake for a while--computer issues, vacations, illness, etc. I don't want to take people off the list if they have a continuing interest in the project, so you may want to just drop me a line if you know you're coming up to a dry period for one reason or another.