Monday, October 15, 2012

More on Fruitcake

After I made five loaves of an 1845 fruitcake recipe (see Sept 1, 2012), I ate one and stored away the rest.  My goal was to wrap them in cheesecloth and soak them with brandy to see what they were like after a few months.

And so I did.  A few layers of cheesecloth was all that was needed and any extra bits got put to the underside of the loaf to soak up extra brandy.

I wrapped the loaf,

Fruitcake Mummy!

poured enough brandy over it to soak the cloth, plus a little extra for the loaf,

Soggy Mummy.  Plate catches the drips.

encased it in plastic wrap (put all edges on the top of the loaf, to prevent leakage),

Set the loaf on a sheet of plastic, then wrap upward.

and put it into a plastic bag, labeled with the contents and the date.

Three loaves went into the bottom of the refrigerator and one went into the dark, cool cupboard to keep the container of mincemeat (August 15, 2012) company.  I was curious to see if the fruitcake with brandy really needed refrigeration to keep from getting moldy.

I wondered if the cheesecloth was really needed.  After all, plastic wrap is a modern invention -- would it be able to take over completely?  I don't think so, just from observing how the brandy quickly soaked the entire cheesecloth.  I suspect the cloth will keep the brandy distributed over the entire loaf, instead of just sitting at the bottom.

I also think it would be okay to use muslin instead of cheesecloth, or any other undyed, natural fiber cloth, as long as it was clean and had the sizing washed out of it.

After two months, I pulled the loaf out of the cupboard and gave it a try.
Looking good despite no refrigeration

While unwrapping the plastic, I looked it over carefully for any signs of mold or spoilage.  I noticed it was uniformly moist (not soggy) and smelled nice.  The brandy was barely noticeable.

The cheesecloth wrap looks and feels moist

The loaf itself was moist and smelled fresh and inviting.  The slightly scorched part on the bottom was still there (ugh!) but it wasn't dry at all.

I sliced it open in the middle and found it was moist all the way through.  The flavor was lovely -- I could taste the spices, the fruits (cranberries were a good choice) and nuts, and a very light brandy overtone.

The Verdict:  Success!  It was nice to have it out of my refrigerator and still be good later.  I like it better than the freshly-baked loaf since it was more moist.  The slightly scorched part didn't taste as strong although for my second piece, I sliced it off.

This is definitely worthwhile.  Most people complain about fruitcake, saying it is like a brick or filled with cheap, artificially-colored peels and dried fruits.  This one is fresh, flavorful, tender, moist, and most definitely has no artificial colors or additives.  Quite yummy!

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