I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Its Fruitcake Weather

One of my favorite authors is Truman Capote. You have probably at least heard of one of his more famous books 'Breakfast At Tiffany's'. That is just one small piece of his work which includes such masterpieces as 'Other voices, other rooms' and 'In Cold Blood'. The latter is THE true crime book by which all others are judged. Last night I was flipping through the channels waiting for the bread to toast for turkey salad sandwiches. I stumbled onto a TV adaptation of Capote's Christmas story - 'A Christmas Memory.' That reminded me that for years I have been planning on researching fruitcakes. In just a few short hours I learned more than I need to know and I found perhaps the most famous fruitcake recipe of all - the one featured in 'A Christmas Memory.' Capote's cousing Sook used to make 30 fruitcakes a year and send them to different people. She even had a cookbook out for a while called Sook's Cookbook. Her fruitcake recipe was featured in that book. I am hunting the dark recesses of the internet for a copy of the book. Meanwhile I have found a copy of the recipe. I must say that a couple of things about the recipe confuse me somewhat. For instance she calls for steaming the cake for 4 1/2 hours and then baking it for an hour. After looking at literally hundreds of recipes, Sook's is the only one I have found that calls for this process. Most of them call for baking with a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. The more I think of it the more genius I think her recipe is. You want to cook the fruitcake slowly without drying it out. That is probably why she steams it. At the same time you want it to brown a little bit and dry out just a tad so that it is not soggy. By steaming it you can be absolutely certain that you aren't going to burn it and that it will cook slowly. The last bit of cooking in the oven at low temp will dry it out just enough and brown it a bit.

The other thing that I have learned about fruitcakes is that you want to make them at least a month ahead of time so that they can mellow and age. You soak them down in alcohol and wrap them in an alcohol soaked cheesecloth, then tin foil and let them sit in a cool dry place for a month, possibly even many months. After that a fruitcake can be stored that way and burried in a tin full of powdered sugar. Some people have fruitcakes that are over 25 years old!

Today I am going on a hunt for all of the ingredients needed to make Sook's Fruitcake. I will post the recipe later along with other secrets of fruitcake baking as I learn them.