Thursday, December 13, 2012

Margo Oliver’s Light Fruit Cake

Yippee! The spam that attacked this blog is forever gone (see my post of Nov. 13, 2012). I have seen the enemy and it is us. Erk! All I had to do was, um, was raise my spam filter settings. Quel embarrassing, wot? But the problem has disappeared.

I know life has been difficult since my lengthy hiatus from blogging. After all, the National Hockey League has been (and still is!) locked out. Help is at hand, Dollinks! No, I don't mean the return of my blog. I mean this wonderful video on how you (small, humble you!) can make a world of difference as you reach out to an NHL player in distress.

As I wipe away my tears (of laughter or sadness - you decide), I can’t help but think that even an out-of-work hockey player could make thisplendid Light Fruit Cake in time for Christmas! 

(By the way, a couple of readers who subscribe to this blog by email have commented that the videos I occasionally post show up on their emails as a blocked plug-in. If that describes your experience, you can see them by going to the original blog post. I believe the videos are worth the minor nuisance: Hockey fans will find this one especially funny.)

The posting below is another of the late Canadian food writer Margo Oliver’s well-loved recipes. Needing only a few days’ aging, it’s the perfect solution to having your Christmas cake and eating it, too. I made a few small tweaks to modernize this recipe, which Oliver published approximately 45 years ago. 

I found this recipe at the request of Canadian reader Gordon Portman of Brandon, Manitoba. He sought it for his friend, Sheelagh. The romantic in me hopes they make it together. Um ...  I mean the cake.

Margo Oliver’s Light Fruit Cake:

1-½ lb. slivered almonds
½ lb. candied citron, diced
½ lb. candied pineapple, diced
¼ lb. candied cherries, halved
½ lb. golden raisins, plumped (see Note)
4 c.  all-purpose flour, divided
1-½ c. butter
2 c. granulated sugar
6 eggs, separated
¾ c. milk
¼ c. cognac
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. cream of tartar
¼ c. cognac or sherry
Almond paste, as garnish (optional)

Grease two 9x5x2-in. loaf pans. Line with two layers of well-greased brown paper and set aside (I use shopping bags). You may also use a greased and floured bundt pan, lined with greased waxed paper.

Combine almonds, fruit, and ½ c. of the flour; set aside. Cream butter until smooth, adding sugar gradually. Separate egg whites from yolks; chilling whites and beating yolks lightly. Add to creamed mixture, beating well (see Further Note). Combine milk, ¼ c. cognac, and almond extract. Add to creamed mixture alternately with remainder of the flour, mixing after each addition. 

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar, beating whites until stiff. Pour creamed mixture over fruit. mixing well. Fold in egg whites. 

Preheat oven to 275 deg. F. Spoon batter into pans, pressing down firmly with clean hands. Place a roasting pan full of hot water on bottom oven rack, baking loaf-style fruit cakes above it at 2-¼ hr. or bundt-style cake at 3-¼ hr. Cool 30 min. on rack before turning upside down. Peel off paper, piercing warm cake/s with skewers and pouring cognac or sherry over it, by teaspoonsful. 

Store in a tightly sealed container for several days. One day before serving, press rolled, room-temperature almond paste over top of cake/s. Decorate almond paste with additional candied cherries and peel, if desired. If you'd like to make your own almond paste, see my blog of Nov. 13, 2011.

Note: See the Index for How to Plump Dried Fruits.

Further Note: Why beat the yolks twice? It increases their ability to combine with and suspend the fat from the butter, producing a more tender cake.

Tomorrow: Another easy fruit cake to make in time for the holidays!

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