Old Fashioned Fruitcake. See Recipe Below.

Based on the cover photo for this post you might be a bit confused. Not only does it not look like an old fashioned fruitcake it in no way resembles a fruitcake at all. Why is that? Well I have been trying to create this post for about a year. In that time I had created a folder with all the lovely photos I had take of various old fashioned fruitcakes I have made over the past five years.

When I went to look for that folder sadly I could not find it or the copies of the pictures that should be in that folder. I did find one sad blurry photo from the very first year I made the cake. It is not the prettiest of photos so while it is included below in this post it is not cover photo worthy. Once I get another photo taken this season I will change the cover photo and update the post. Until then you are stuck with something a bit odd but I think in the holiday spirit.

As a kid I was subjected to two kinds of fruitcake: store bought fruitcake and homemade loaf pan fruitcake. The first was very sugary and a little gross because of the candied fruit. The second was made by my grandparents who always made fruit and nut breads around the holiday. This fruitcake was made in a loaf pan with a combination of real and candied fruit but because it was a lot of batter shoved into a tight space the cake always came out slightly burnt. Most children don’t like burnt cakes and I was no different. One would think this put me off to fruitcake forever but not so. Several years back I got it in my head that I wanted to make old fashioned fruitcake.

At the time I had been watching a lot of British TV shows set in the Victorian era. In the shows there was a lot of mention to various foods eaten and drinks imbibed. Most of the time I just let it all wash over me and enjoy the shows but not that holiday season. That year I wanted to know why everyone found these foods and drinks so tasty. The fruitcake seemed to haunt me the most because of my experiences as a child.

I set aside some time to research old fashioned fruitcakes. Some of the internet finds had me a bit confused by the language used. The cookbooks my mom had only had recipes for fruitcakes with candied fruit. After looking at some recipes for cookies in a cookbook Rent-a-Dad had bought as a gift for me one year prior, I happened to find an old fashioned fruitcake recipe that made some sense.

The recipe used real dried fruit, marzipan, and fondant. It sounded the closest to all the research I had done on good old fashioned fruitcake. I didn’t particularly agree with all of the fruit being used such as prunes or the fruit being left out like cranberries or cherries. So I made some adaptations to the recipe.

When I set out to make the recipe I realized I made one strategic mistake. I was making the fruitcake one week before Christmas and the recipe said to make it three weeks out so it can be properly soaked in rum. Well as I had been talking about this recipe for weeks my family certainly expected that I would deliver. So I made the fruitcake and instead of brushing rum on the fruitcake once every week, I brushed the same amount on the fruitcake over the course of three nights rotating the cake every night so the rum wouldn’t sink to the bottom and be more likely to really soak in.

Another change that I made was using my dad’s recipe for white frosting instead of store bought fondant. When the cake had soaked long enough I brushed it down with marmalade (instead of apricot preserves) before spreading white frosting on the cake. I then rolled out the soft marzipan I had purchased and layered it on top. The crowning touch was dusting the marzipan with powdered sugar to give the cake a snowy appearance.

A day later came the moment I had been dreading: cutting and serving the cake. The cake, weighing between 10 and 20 pounds, cut beautifully and looked like something straight out of a Dickens’s novel. It was enough cake to serve a small army. When I cut the cake several slices adorned each of my aunt’s cookie platters that I gave as gifts that year.

The tasting of the cake at our home was so enjoyable that even my husband who hates fruitcake loved it! Then came the phone calls from my three aunts. The fruitcake slices were a hit at each of their homes. Their children who all hate fruitcake had even stolen bites and asked for more. All of my uncles were furious because they wanted the rum soaked fruitcake with my dad’s frosting! Thankfully I had enough fruitcake that I could smuggle them each down a slice all of their own.

The following year I received so many questions as to when I would make my old fashioned fruitcake that I knew this was now a family favorite! In subsequent years making the old fashioned fruitcake has also been bitter sweet as all three of my uncles have since passed away and I remember how each of them had looked forward to the second year I made this cake. I still make this old fashioned fruitcake even though it now has a gluten free twist and it is still as good as the first year I made it!

Old Fashioned Fruitcake

Before starting this recipe a 10” or larger spring form pan is needed. If not available use a 10” or larger round cake pan that is at least 3” deep. Cut out a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan. Also cut three 4 inch tall pieces of parchment paper and set to the side. Grease the sides of the pan and line the sides with the previously cut parchment paper. Make sure the pieces overlap (may need to use a little more grease to get the parchment paper to stick). Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

 

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups of flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)

½ cup of finely ground almond flour

½ tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp ground clove

 

Fruit Ingredients:

3 cups dark raisins

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup lightly packed dried pitted apricots, chopped

1 cup lightly packed dried pitted dates, chopped

½ cup lightly packed dried cherries

¼ to ½ cup marmalade

½ cup of rum

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

lemon zest*

* a good substitute for fresh zest is dried or even trying a ½ teaspoon of lemon flavoring. If making a substitute I prefer to use 2 packets of true lemon or an extra tablespoon of lemon juice.

 

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) of room temperature butter (I use salted)

1 ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar (a mix of light and dark works well also)

1 teaspoon Vanilla

5 eggs

 

Finishes:

¼ cup marmalade

2 pounds of Wilton White Frosting (similar enough to my dad’s recipe) or butter cream frosting bought from a local bakery

10 to 12 ounces of soft marzipan

Confectioners sugar for rolling and dusting

Rum

 

Directions:

Whisk together the flours, salt, and spices. Set to the side.

Chop the apricots and dates. Add in a separate bowl with the remaining fruit. Add the rum, lemon juice, zest, and marmalade. Let soak for 30 minutes.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth on a medium high speed. Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Once thoroughly mixed add the eggs one at a time and beat for an additional two minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl at least once during the process to ensure that all of the butter and sugar are mixed with the eggs.

Gradually add the flour and spice mixture at a reduced speed. Once the flour is fully incorporated beat for a minute. Then slowly begin to fold in all of the fruit mixture. Continue to stir in the fruit until it is completely distributed throughout the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared spring form pan being careful not to knock down the parchment side liners. I tend to scoop the batter one spoonful at a time into the pan until a good layer of the batter is holding up the parchment side liners. Make sure the parchment paper continues to stay about 3” above the top of the pan. The parchment side liners ensure that the fruitcake will not bake over top the pan and burn in the oven.

Set the filled pan on a baking sheet and place on a rack in the center of the oven. Bake for 2 hours or until cake is firm to the touch and golden brown in color*. The top may be slightly cracked. When a toothpick is inserted in the center it should come out clean.

Once the cake is done, pull from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for a minimum of 30 minutes. After the cake is room temperature or cool to the touch release from the pan and let the cake completely cool. Once cooled completely place the cake in a container (I use a deep drying pan) and brush with rum. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap or store in an air tight tin.

Once a week, for three weeks, brush the top of the cake with ¼ of rum. I never have enough time for this step so once a day for three days I flip my cake and brush with rum so the rum has a chance to fully distribute through the cake. Remember to re-cover the cake so it does not dry out.

Once the cake has soaked for a suitable amount of time, transfer the cake to a plate. Brush the cake with ¼ cup (or more) of marmalade. Evenly spread the white butter-cream frosting over the cake. Let sit while you roll out the marzipan.

Lightly dust a pastry cutting board with powdered sugar before rolling the marzipan out to a ¼ inch. Make sure that as you are rolling out the marzipan that you are doing so in a circle pattern of at least 15” in diameter. When the marzipan is the desired thickness carefully roll the marzipan over the rolling pin to move to the cake. Gently lay on the cake. Smooth the marzipan out to remove any air-bubbles. Trim excess marzipan from the bottom of the cake and dust the entire surface with sifted powdered sugar for a “snowy white” look.

White fondant can also be used to create snowflake cutouts to decorate the cake with.

* If the fruitcake is browning up quicker than expected then between the 1.5 and 2 hour marker I have turned the oven off and let the fruitcake sit in the oven for a full hour. This is not a step I recommend to a new baker. This is a gutsy move and may end up with an under-baked cake.

Sugar Cookie: Classic and Gluten Free Inspiration. See Recipe(s) below.

The classic sugar cookie recipe included in this post is one that has been passed down from my grandmother to my mother, then from my mom to me and the grandchildren. The gluten free recipe options have been recent finds as I have had to changes to my diet and actually began to miss some of the cookies from my childhood.

My mom has always loved sugar cookies but they have always been my least favorite cookie. So at first when my diet changed I did not miss them. The biggest reason this has been my least favorite cookie was the after taste baking powder can leave behind when you finish the sugar cookie.

As I got older sugar cookies were more trouble than they were worth. I could never get the sugar cookies to retain their shape from the cookie cutter until I started pre-coating the cookie cutters with something like PAM. It didn’t seem to matter if I made the sugar cookie as a drop cookie or shaped, I was upset of the sugar cookie didn’t come out buttery. My family recipe calls for Crisco. When I tried using butter the cookies came out harder than a rock until I figured out that if I used butter helps but refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes prior to baking to retain softness. The final straw was that no matter how hard I tried I always burnt the edges of my sugar cookies. I felt like a sugar cookie failure because my mom and dad always made the best sugar cookies.

When I eat a sugar cookie I want it to turn out like all the gourmet cookies do: plump, buttery, a little crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you get to the center. I could never get my sugar cookies to be like this. That is until this year when I tried two gluten free store-bought boxed batters.

During the years in which I was the business manager for a choir I never had enough time during the holiday season to make all the cookies from my youth. I started to keep cake and brownie mixes on the shelf that I could turn into gourmet style soft batch cookies. My favorite was Duncan Hines yellow cake batter. With the recipe on that box I could transform the cake mix into snicker doodles which were always a hit at the annual holiday party my church held.

This year I missed the annual church party because of family crisis. I also missed those drop cookies because I am trying to live gluten free (makes my life less painful). To cheer me up we decided to take the kids in our lives out to look at holiday lights. As per our holiday light tradition we take cookies and hot coco to enjoy in the car while driving.

I didn’t have any drop cookies I could easily make. So I took a gluten free cake batter and made a few adjustments to make sugar cookies. This was the best sugar cookies I had ever made! They ticked off every box on what I think makes a good sugar cookie: plump, buttery, a little crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you get to the center!! Success!

Then I found out that Pillsbury had an actual boxed mix for gluten free sugar cookies. So I tried that boxed mix. Those were also quite delightful but I found my original batch to be more my taste. So below you have the option to take a gluten free cake mix and turn it into sugar cookies or to just buy the gluten free sugar cookie mix. Either way if your sugar cookie taste is like mine you can’t go wrong. Now if you really want to make a rolled sugar cookie dough then sadly I have yet to find the perfect gluten free recipe.

This year when I made the gluten free sugar cookies I found out something I didn’t know, my mom and dad always looked forward to my slightly burned sugar cookies. While I like my edges crisp they liked their edges slightly burnt but felt they always over baked their cookies when they tried to go for this option where as mine always ended up with burnt edges but perfect centers. Life is funny sometimes with the different perspectives we each have of the same memories.

 

 

Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe

Before starting grease your cookie pans (or line with parchment paper). Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

 

Ingredients:

2/3 cups Crisco (if using butter refrigerate the batter to retain softness and flavor)

¾  cups of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1 egg

4 teaspoons of milk

1 ½ cup of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

¼ teaspoon of salt.

 

Directions:

Thoroughly cream together the shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in milk. Set aside.

Sift together all the dry ingredients. Once sifted blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.

Baking Instructions 1:  If doing as a drop cookie, by the teaspoonful drop the dough onto greased cookie/baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Baking Instructions 2:  If making as a rolled out shaped sugar cookie then wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour up to 24 hours. On a lightly floured surface place the refrigerated dough and roll to about ¼ of an inch thick. Remember to slightly grease all sugar cookie shapes so the dough does not stick to the cookie cutter. Use a cookie spatula to move the unbaked cookies from to the baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

 

 

Grammy Knauss’s Note: This is a great basic recipe. You have the plain sugar cookie you can sprinkle with sprinkles from store or you can make the recipe a bit different by adding raisins or orange rind shavings (or teaspoon of  orange juice) or lemon rind shavings (or teaspoon of lemon juice) or broken up peppermint pieces or anything you think might appeal to you. You can add a tablespoon of peanut butter to the mixture. You can frost them after they are cooked and make cookie “sandwiches from them”.

 

Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Inspiration

 

Before starting line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

 

Ingredients*:

1 box of Pilsbury Gluten Free Funfetti cake mix

½ cup of vegetable oil

2 eggs

 

Optional Ingredients for Frosting:

1 cup of powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of milk

2 to 3 drops of food color of choice

Icing bag for decorating

 

Directions:

Combine the cake mix with the oil and eggs until the mixture is moistened. The mixture will seem a little more wet then expected for cookies. Use a cookie scoop to have the cookies be uniform. Roll the dough in your hands before placing on the parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set. Allow to cool for about 2 minutes before placing on a cookie rack. When cookies are thoroughly cool they can be decorated or eaten as is. Our family enjoys a coating of royal icing on sugar cookies. Right now deep blue in honor of Frozen seems to be the color of choice. Enjoy!

* I believe this recipe is just slightly richer than the gluten free boxed sugar cookie mix. However, if strapped for time, I still quite enjoyed the Pillsbury Funfetti Gluten Free sugar cookie mix.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins. See Recipe Below

Ever since I was a kid I was crazy for pumpkin this and pumpkin that. From the moment I started really baking on my own I was adding pumpkin to every recipe I could think of starting with pancakes. As an adult my affinity for pumpkin has not really waned much. I even have my nephew hooked on pumpkin flavored things. Last year I shared several of my most favorite pumpkin recipes adapted for a gluten free diet. The chocolate chip pumpkin muffin recipe shared below is a slightly adapted version of the already shared gingerbread muffin recipe.

Although I love to watch Food Network in all of its glory I have my favorite cooks and chefs. In the past couple of years I have narrowed down my cooking shows to Dinners, Drive-Ins & Dives; Halloween Wars; and the baking championships. My other favorite cooking show is from across the pond, the BBC’s The Great British Bake-Off.

The reason why these shows call to me while others don’t is familiarity and comfortability. Like those TV shows, while I love cooking, baking and trying new recipes I also have my favorite recipes. This is the comfort food that I can make without really thinking about it. Since our Stinkerbell started eating solid foods, my gingerbread muffin recipe has become one of those items.

This year I hit a rough patch. At first I didn’t want to bake because of the exceptionally warm fall weather and then because of the forest fires in our area. Once the weather returned to normal (ish) and the fires were under-control my household was turned upside down with illness. My mom developed shingles and I had a bad sinus infection. My mom’s condition is certainly more serious and meant a lot of doctor visits to specialists.

In all the crazy scheduling and upheaval I needed some portable breakfast food that I wanted to eat on a daily basis. Not only did I need something quickly that I could grab but something that wouldn’t upset my stomach in the morning when I took my antibiotics.

My initial go to was my gingerbread muffins but my nephew and niece were visiting. While they both like pumpkin they don’t like raisins. However… they love chocolate! So I had this brilliant idea to change my go-to recipe with lessening some of the spices and adding milk chocolate chips. The change was a success! Since then I have made three batches of chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! This pumpkin muffin recipe has been a real life saver for me this past month.

These pumpkin muffins make a great breakfast item as well as a mid-day snack. Because this is a homemade item you can control how much spices and sugar goes into the batter. Play with the recipe to suite your taste buds and needs!

 

 

GF Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

 

Dry Ingredients

1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour (this is a 1 to 1 ratio so regular flour can be substituted)

½ tsp of salt

½ tsp baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon*

½ teaspoons ginger*

½ teaspoon nutmeg*

½ teaspoon allspice*

½ teaspoon coriander*

¼ teaspoon clove*

 

Wet Ingredients

2 eggs

1 cup (packed) brown sugar

1 cup of pumpkin

1/3 cup of melted margarine

¼ cup of water (as needed) **

 

Other Ingredients

1 cup of milk chocolate chips (semi-sweet tends to leave a bitter aftertaste)

 

Preheat Oven 350°

Melt the margarine in a microwave safe container for 20 to 30 seconds and set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients and stir until all the spices are evenly dispersed.

In a separate mixing bowl combine the eggs and brown sugar and blend using a hand mixer. Add in the pumpkin and melted margarine. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed together then fold in the optional ingredients.

Spray the muffin tins with Bakers Joy or use cupcake paper cups in the muffin tin to easily remove the cooked muffins. Use a ¼ measuring cup to fill each individual muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick once inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 16 to 20 muffins

*If fresh pumpkin (rather then canned) is being used then you will want to increase spices according to your palate. Fresh pumpkin can often be a little bland and therefore additional spices are needed for a rich flavor.

** There is often more water in freshly cooked down pumpkin (if boiled and not roasted) then in the canned pumpkin. If fresh pumpkin (boiled) is being used then only 1/8 cup of water may be all that is needed.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Jello Salad

See Recipe Below

pineapple

This fall has been very different from the ones I am used to. Not only was I even busier than normal but the weather was far to warm for me to consider baking or cooking. Sadly as the weather began to cool off in early November our area was experiencing wildfire after wildfire. This meant my serious baking and cooking hiatus continued. A little bit of rain last week not only made the air more breathable but put me in the right mood to bring out my cookbook.

The dessert below only involves a little bit of cooking but is a favorite recipe enjoyed at some of our special family gatherings from Thanksgiving to the 4th of July. When this dessert is made it is with the knowledge that we need to make enough to feed a small hoard since it disappears quickly. Since the amount is more important than decoration our version of this yummy dessert has a tendency of looking a little plain. If made using a decorative fruit mold, this dish can be that special dessert to showcase at a church picnic!

This is a special dish that my paternal grandmother would make when she visited. Most years we only saw my paternal grandparents about three or four times during holidays or other special occasions. So this is a dessert that we all looked forward to at every visit.

When my grandmother passed away my biggest regret was that I did not inherit her cookbook. I am thankful though that about ten years before she passed that I asked for several of her special recipes like this one. My dad said that my request brought tears of joy to her eyes as she is not my biological grandmother but that I accepted her as such.

Any words (and photos) that I share can not properly express how yummy this dish is. As a child I was a very picky eater. Two things generally deterred me from trying lots of foods: appearance and texture. If I could get past the appearance of a dish generally the texture would put me off. My one exception to the odd appearance and texture rule was my grandmother’s pineapple salad. Once I tasted it I could never get enough. It certainly didn’t hurt that one of my favorite fruits has always been pineapple.

In this post I have included two versions of this recipe. I have the original as my grandmother made it (as taken from her hand written note card) and an adaptation that I make. My adaptation came around as I had to deal with several challenges from time and space to make the dish to dealing with how the ingredients were packaged at my store. In both recipes we opt to use lemon jello but lime jello or a combination of lemon and lime can be used. I hope my pictures of this dish do not discourage you and that you enjoy this recipe as much as our family has!

 

Pinaepple Cream Cheese Jello Salad

Ingredients:

1 can (16 to 20 ounces) of Crushed Pineapple

1 cup sugar

2 (3oz) pkgs. Lemon jello

1 ½ cups of hot tap water

1 ½ packages of cream cheese (about 12 ounces) softened

1 (10ounce) container of true whip (made without highfructose corn syrup)

 

Directions:

  1. Over mediume heat, in a saucepan, heat the crushed pineapple and sugar for about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Mix together the jello and hot water. Stir thuroughly until the jello has disolved.
  3. Cube the cream cheese and add to the the jello & water. Using a hand mixer, thruoughly mix until the cream cheese is broken into very small pieces or is creamed.
  4. Add cool whip into the jello mixture one spoonful at a time.
  5. Fold in the pineapple mixture.
  6. Use a 8×12 inch pan to set the mixture in. Refrigerate until set.

 

Grandmam’s Pineapple Cream Cheese Salad

Ingredients:
1 #2 can (16 oz) Crushed Pineapple
1 cup sugar
2 pkgs lemon (or lime) jello
2 cups hot water
2 small pkgs of cream cheese
1 pt whipping cream or 1 large container of Cool Whip

Directions:
1. Heat together crushed pineapple & sugar for 5 minutes. Let cool completely.
2. Mix together jello and hot water. Stir thoroughly. Let cool but do not chill.
3. Using cooled jello cream your cream cheese. Do this slowly.
4. Add cool whip spoonful at a time.
5. Now fold in your pineapple.
6. Chill to set. Serve Cold

If you aspire to create a fancy jello salad check out the picture and recipe found on this page: Fruit Salad. The jello salad on the shared link is prepared with a jello mold and reminds me of the salads that used to grace some of the fronts of my grandmother’s cookbooks and food related magazines.