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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Yellow Lamborghini Mixer

Like the Countach I never had, my Kitchen Aid Mixer gets more attention then my Honda. Far be the color "Butter Cream" from the impetuous racing yellow of the 1987 Diablo that I so desiderated as a child; but it works. It even has gears I can shift to get the desired speed I need.

After the chaos that was my first attempt at baking fruitcake, I found myself wondering if hosing off my kitchen aid in the driveway would be going too far. I settled for hot soapy tap water and a toothbrush. The aftermath of incorporating 'month long rum soaked minced fruits' into my batter seems to have only splattered decadent syrups everywhere. The Kitchen Aid looked as though it had just wrapped up filming a scene from Black Hawk Down. Glazed red with juices solidifying like dripping wax on its surface.
And I wore my white sweater today. Yeah.

We are well into the Holiday Sprit here at the Villa, now that Thanksgiving gone & went. Today The Boy is off bottling his very fist vintage of his own wine,Cabernet Sauvignon, whilst I have my own project to attend to. Tomorrow will be spent cutting down our Christmas tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

If you recall my post on making mincemeat in late October you know that after using up all of The Boy's 'Sailor Jerry Rum' to drown minced dried fruits. I sealed up my jars for a month and let them sit to soak and marry. Now its the end of November and we are on to step 2 of the fruitcake process.

I have recently been attracted to a book called Appetite by Nigel Slater, another Brit and almost a male version on Nigella Lawson, in terms of passion for food at least. leafing through his book I stumbled upon another fruitcake recipe. The man sounds s to me like he;'s a genius in the kitchen, so I decided to go for it. His Christmas fruitcake was straight forward, calling for 3 sicks of butter, and 5 eggs, mincemeat and thorough mixing. What was so odd and that he warned of ahead of time was that our eggs and citrus from the mincemeat will curdle! But that I shouldn't be worried about this. So I sopped fretting, added the flour, baking soda and nuts. The batter was light, fluffy and definitely smooth. The curdled lumps has disappeared much to my relief.

The next bit seemed a challenge to me. I was to cook the 9 inch round cake at 325 Farenheight for an hour, then at 300 for 2 hours more! That seems excessive to me. I double checked his photos of the cake he had made. Dark, crumbly, .... dare I say... dry?
Oh dear. Now we really are in trouble.
But I had faith in Nigel and did just he instructed. But after an hour and half of cooking, my cake smelled done.
Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, if they've taught me anything, _oh and my mother_ is that if it smells DONE, it is.

Not yet wanting to trust in my own intuition, I timidly opened the oven door and inserted a bamboo skewer into the center of my golden brown cake. Came out moist, but clean with only a few slight crumbs clinging to the skewer.
Damn Near Perfect.

There was no way I was going to cook this cake another 1.5 hours. I took it out and let it rest. I surfed over to Delia Smith's site to check her fruit cake recipe, perhaps a bit guilty that I had not elected to use her recipe as I originally intended. Delia claims that a fruit cake's cooking times can vary up to 1.5 hours! She usually bakes hers for a good 4 hours (jaw drops).

"To the beginner I can only say that no timing for a rich fruit cake can be absolutely precise, and be prepared for a Christmas cake to vary even up to an hour either way. So…to test if your cake is done, lightly press the centre of the cake with your little finger – it should spring back and not leave an impression. "

I passed the spring back test too. The cake is done.

As I type my second cake is in the oven baking, I eagerly anticipate the cooking time for this ...
Once both cakes have cooled the will be wrapped up tight and set in the fridge for a month of further mellowing.


Blogger Liz said...

Oooh, Nigel Slater. My husband taught himself to cook using Nigel Slater books; he started with Real Fast Food (a paperback full of things you can cook in half an hour) and has since worked his way up through Appetite, Real Good Food, Real Food and the rest. His Food Diaries are on the Christmas present list.

Have you read Toast, his autobiography? It's a wonderful foodies' book, and can conjure a peculiarly horrible sort of nostalgia in people who grew up in the UK. I recommend it.

November 26, 2005 3:15 PM  
Blogger Alicat said...

The fruit cake looks great! I've always wanted to make one...and I had no idea they could possibly take so long to cook..eep! :)

November 26, 2005 4:35 PM  
Blogger mitten said...

I made mine this weekend, too, but it doesn't use mincemeat and it only took 2 hours to bake.

But what I really wanted to tell you is that you don't need to refrigerate the cake. (I assume from your previous post on liquoring up the fruit that you'll be soaking the cake in more alcohol.) It does great on the counter, tightly wrapped in foil.

Here's the recipe I use to make cake for my British husband: Bourbon Fruitcake

Have a great holiday season!

November 27, 2005 3:13 PM  
Blogger Sara, The Wine Makers Wife said...

Squeezeweasel -
The Kitchen Diary book and Toast ar eboth on my Christmas list too! Your husband sounds like a keeper!!

Alicat -
Its really been an adventure, to be honest... I've never really eaten one befoe, except a taste of one my brother was eating- I really should know what it needs to taste like before I bake another!

Mitten -
Oh Thanks for your advice and feedback!! I am glad to hear yours took 2 hours, and I will take mine out of the fridge and let them hang out on the counter. You say you didn't use mincemeat, what did you you use?
I will go check out that reciepe link now!

November 27, 2005 5:27 PM  

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