Classic Fruitcake

Classic fruitcake

Fruitcake. You either love it or hate it. I am betting that most people who hate it have only had bad boozy doorstops filled with nasty candied fruit in unnatural colors. I know that I was never much of a fruit cake lover until I discovered this recipe. Several years ago I saw an episode of Good Eats on the Food Network and Alton Brown opened my eyes to what fruitcake can and should be, a moist and spicy cake made with only dried fruit and nuts.

I have also reached a point in my life where buying Christmas presents for family is reserved for the nieces and nephew. So what to do for the sisters, in-laws, parents and grandparents? Bake. Cookies, biscotti and fruitcakes are their presents. If you want to gift fruitcake, this recipe makes 6 mini loaves or one large loaf (to keep for yourself!). I usually make these the weekend after Thanksgiving to allow plenty of time for them for them to mature in the refrigerator. They really benefit from a 4-6 week rest before serving. Not that that stops my husband from begging for a slice the minute they come out of the oven.

Homemade fruitcakes can also suffer from an overabundance of brandy which can turn some people off. If you like a strong, boozy taste to your fruitcake feel free to baste the finished product with straight-up brandy or rum. However, if you prefer a lighter touch, basting with a rum simple syrup is the way to go. Why rum and not brandy? Well, it is just personal preference, I like rum (a lot!) and would rather use it than brandy. The advantage of the simple syrup is that it really allows the taste of the cake to shine while keeping it moist and adding just a hint of rum flavor. By all means, use what you like and make it as strong as you like. After all, it is your fruitcake. So stir up a batch the weekend after Thanksgiving and try not to snitch any cake until Christmas. If you make it for gifts, they will be very much appreciated and may even convert a few fruitcake haters into beggars.

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Oatmeal Spice Cake

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I must confess, I am not a huge fan of cake unless it is homemade.  And by homemade, I mean from scratch and not from a box.  Bakery cakes (especially those from grocery stores) are way too sweet and box cakes taste artificial.  When I do bake a cake I tend to make bundt cakes.  However, once in a while I do really like a frosted cake and one that can be baked in a 9-x13-inch pan is even better.  The best reason is that you don’t have to worry about removing it from the pan in one piece.  Just cool, frost, cut in pieces and serve.  Easy peasy and oh so delicious.  Although, if you are feeling ambitious you can bake this cake in two 9-inch round cake pans for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out the cake rounds to cool until room temperature.  You will also need to double the amount of frosting.

This cake is lightly spiced and has a wonderful nubby texture from the oats.  Don’t wait for a special occasion to enjoy this cake.

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Apple Bundt Cake

Recently I had some friends over for dinner and I needed a killer dessert.  I kept thinking about the apple cake recipe from Around My French Table which I have made in the past to rave reviews.  When I looked at the recipe again I was reminded that it calls for an 8-inch springform pan which would not be enough cake for 12 people.  I really did not want to make 2 separate batches and have to wash the pan and dishes in between.  So I thought to myself, what about using a bundt pan and doubling the recipe.  What the heck, right?  The worst I could do was screw it up and have to come up with another dessert at the last minute.  Happily it worked with a few minor adjustments.  This cake is super moist, dense, packed with apples and has a texture reminiscent of bread pudding.

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