Dec 7, 2009

Fruitcake Wreath

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."


PAM said...

Wow, I love that wreath baking pan. Your fruitcake came out perfect and I enjoyed reading about the process. I forget my projects in the kitchen all the time, thank goodness for those timers.

Sherrie said...

Way to brave the fruitcake! My hubby does not like fruitcake I decided not to go ahead with this one. Had some good chuckles.

Matthew said...

I've read that several people were confused about the butter. My take when I read it is that you bring it to a creamy consistency, and then let the residual heat melt it so that it will not be hot. In the sentence after, it says to let it cool to warm if it has become hot.

lanier said...

Your cake looks great and your post was very entertaining.
I like the comic at the end!

Raymond said...


Your cake looks great. I love fruitcake and can't to taste this one but I am storing it until Christmas eve. Now that I see yours I wish I would have splurged on the pan. I was confused by the butter issue also. I don't think it really mattered how we handled it


Shoshana said...

The wreath pan really does give it something special. Your cake looks great!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

What a funny read (soused fruit with the hiccups). :)

Your cake turned out perfectly Marie! The fruit and nuts almost hide the lovely design of the cake, so I bet something like the eggnog pound cake you talked about would show off the lovely shape even more.

So glad you got a new thermometer. Which one did you end up getting?


Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

fantastic photos. marie why didn't i think of outlining the bow in red icing--damn!

the comic and the end is absolutely perfect. great posting and re the butter, it can be creamy soft or melted and not hot--the idea is it shouldn't be cold and firm or hot.

faithy said...

Love how the cake turned up in a fruitcake wreath pan! I can't find any it here in any store, but my guess is if i did find it will probably cost me a bomb!

Your cake turned out very pretty! And i like that comic at the end too!! :)

Anonymous said...

Marie, it is possible to add a search feature to the blog? I was trying to find an earlier post without looking through each month. Thanks!

Marie said...

Sugar Chef,
I loved it too. I could have gotten it on loan from Woody, but I just had to have it.

Maybe this fruitcake would convert him the way it converted Jim.

You were right--see Rose's comment.

Thanks. It's always been a mystery to me why so many fruitcakes are sold if everyone claims to hate fruitcake. There must be some closet fruitcake eaters.

Ha. You're one of the closet fruitcake eaters. The taste of the rum infusing the fruit was so good that I wish I would have brushed more rum on, but I really wanted to try it out.

Thank you.

I got the one that Rose recommends--the CDN. It worked well enough that I might take the Thermapen off my Christmas list. I'm not sure that I need the two-second read.

Oh good, thanks for the clarification. Mine was neither cold nor hot, so it passed that test. It would look extra cute with the bow outlined in red, because it's a little hard to see it otherwise, but I'm glad I missed that step.
You should know that Jim has so much faith in you that he was looking forward to trying this cake despite his general aversion to the genre--he said he was sure that Rose would come up with a good version.

Marie said...

Yes, you'd probably have to special order it from someplace and then wait a few months until you got it--and pay an arm and a leg. Fortunately, yours are the cutest, even without the pan.

I just added a search feature, but didn't try it out

hector said...

we expect instructions from Rose with an accuracy level of scientists!!! we are spoiled! so, when the butter temperature was left for questioning within a range that seems too dangerously varied specially when most of Rose's recipes tell you the ideal butter temperature, the answer was that it works within that whole range!

for the grand marnier wedding cake, i had question rose, what does adding 2/3 cups of sugar mean when running the almonds in the food processor? because 2/3 cups was indicated for both, the smaller and the 12" layers! the same goes when adding part of the sourcream to the dry ingredients.

my students plague me with the same questions, specially the ones that enjoy using a scale with up to 1 gram accuracy.

the answer at the end is, on these cases, it doesn't need to be exact, because at the end, all the sugar or all the sourcream are joined together!


hector said...

marie, i love the fact your wreath filled the pan so beautifully, as beautiful as the book picture. what a assurance.

i have designed my take, including making miniature cakes shaped like stars and then string them like a wreath, but after looking at your experience, i am diving right into the nordic ware wreath! thanks for the inspiration!

the fruit component: i will use an assortment or lemon and orange peels that once were dazzling roses (for the golden dream wedding cake), but now has been soaking on meyers rum for over 2 months. and for the nuts, i may use all mac nuts exclusively, why not if i can!

Marie said...

Where were you when I needed you?

gartblue said...

marie dear,

once again, you floored me, iggling over your funny, funny post. you are seriously good at this, writing and baking.

i was green with envy looking at your wreath pan. first because i'd have to pay a gazillion USD to have it shipped to Malaysian shore.

second because your cake looked so so wonderful. *am imagining a kitchen filled with such warm aroma for an hour*

I have to give this a miss since i can't find the glaceed fruits/cheeries here and although I'm a great big fan of fruitcake, i'm the the only one in the household ..

the comic was hilarious! kudos!

Melinda said...

Darn it! I have had this cake made, baked, soaking in rum for 4 weeks now. I forgot to post it up. Will do tonight. My cake won't get cut until Christmas eve. It turned out wonderful and smells divine!
I love your write up and wish I could be there to taste your cake for you.
I actually have more fruit soaking for 'mini me' cakes for my colleagues.
Fruitcake rules here! Love the cartoon!

Marie said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence--that's very nice of you. Being a typically U.S.-centric person, I'm always surprised to learn what's available here that's not available other places and vice versa. Why doesn't Australia have canned pumpkin? Why doesn't the U.S. have Wheetabix?

I just told Jennifer that I'd been searching in vain for your post. I can't wait to read it because I'll bet it has your delicious handmade lemon and orange rind. I'll check in regularly until I see it.

doughadear said...

I really like fruitcake and I use to make it every Christmas but stopped a few years ago because I would end up eating the whole thing. I love the look of this one, so full of nuts that I want to bake one up. The wreath pan is really lovely for this cake and you certainly could use it for other cakes as well.

evil cake lady said...

Marie, your fruitcake looks 100% spectacular!! I just might have to buy that darn wreath pan for next year. I loved your description of the boozy fruit!! Such happy, happy fruit. It seems we all had butter anxiety but it all came out right in the end. Phew!

HanaĆ¢ said...

Your post is just too funny, Marie. In any other context, SOB, would need an R-rating, but not in your post, ha ha. A great read, especially after today's commute. Hope yours wasn't too bad.

B4 I 4get, your cake looks lovely. It's studded with nuts and fruit all over. Almost makes me want to make it, but since I bake alchohol-free and can only eat almonds, I wouldn't even know where to start with substitutions for this recipe. I'm glad you and hubby enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

As everyone has suspected, holiday fruitcakes really ARE dense enough to stop a speeding bullet. (With video.) Can a Fruitcake Stop a Bullet?

Marie said...

It is a good fruitcake, and, oddly, because fruitcake is not my favorite, this is the first cake that made me abandon my one-piece rule in earnest. Maybe that's just because we had more left over, but I felt drawn to it.

Thank goodness. There's nothing worse than being felled by butter anxiety at Christmas.

I wondered if anyone would notice that. I don't think Jim did. At least he wasn't offended.

I'm pretty sure this fruitcake wouldn't stop a speeding bullet.

hector said...

attention fruitcake (closeted) lovers, here is how i made the candied fruit for this WONDERFUL cake and equally wonderful cake pan. if you ask me which is my favorite nordicware pan, the holiday wreath it is.

hector said...

and here is my completed fruit cake. hope it tastes as good as it looks:

Alpha Baker Joan said...

That is the most hilarious cartoon!!!
I also used the beautiful wreath pan because when I saw Rose's picture I just loved it. Great to hear all the new ideas for it for next year, especially Butteryum's idea for eggnog cake in the wreath form. And ideas for decorating it! I think the cake baked up beautifully, right to the pan top. I bit the bullet and acquired the fruit from ChefShop, and it was quite dear, but I wanted to do it just once to help it pass all 'fruitcake tests.' Mine is in the mail as surprise to friends, so will have to wait a few days to learn the results - I have a notion that she will love it.