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Christmas Cakes to Fit 2020

December 3, 2020

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Mini Bundt Fruitcake.

 

Recipes / By Margaret Johnson

A few weeks ago, I shared the recipe for Darina Allen’s Christmas Cake, one that I’m sure some of you will try to see how close you can come to the cooking legend’s version. For obvious reasons, Christmas 2020 will be scaled back a bit, so for many the “big Christmas cake” won’t happen this year. Not to worry: for those like me who still love holiday baking, these mini fruitcakes will fill the bill. Same great flavor, same great taste, just sized down to fit the “new normal.”

 

MINI FRUITCAKES

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MAKE 20 MINI LOAVES

These little fruitcakes are more like a pound cake filled with fruit and nuts than a heavy fruitcake. I bake them in a mini 8-well loaf pan (wells measure 2 3/8″ x 3 5/8″ x 1 3/8″) for holiday gift-giving, but you can use larger loaf pans (adjust baking time) if you don’t have one of these specialty pans. I found the recipe many years ago at King Arthur Baking Company, and it’s now my “go-to” holiday cake. Everyone loves it!  

For the cakes

2 cups dried cranberries

2 cups mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, dates, apricots), chopped

1/2 cup brandy

1 3/4 cup chopped candied red cherries

8 ounces butter

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia (a blend of citrus and vanilla), orange oil, or vanilla 

4 large eggs

3 3/4 cups flour

1 cup orange juice

2 cups diced pecans

For the glaze

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons brandy

4 tablespoons sugar

1. Combine dried fruit (except cherries) and brandy in glass bowl; microwave 1 to 2 minutes, stir, then set aside to cool. 

2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat wells of a mini loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

3. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, and Fiori (orange oil or vanilla). Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour alternately with orange juice; add undrained fruit, cherries, and nuts.

4. Spoon batter into pan, filling each well about three-quarters full. Bake for 30 to 33 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center of one comes out clean.

5. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Invert pan onto rack; repeat with remaining batter.

6. Make glaze. Heat juice, brandy, and sugar in a small pan until sugar melts. Brush tops of warm cakes with glaze. Cool completely and then wrap in plastic; store in airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

 

Mini Fruitcakes.

 

BUSHMILLS BOILED FRUITCAKE 

MAKES 1 LARGE OR 4 TO 5 SMALL LOAVES 

This fruitcake is an interesting one because the fruit is cooked with butter, brown sugar, and crushed pineapple before being mixed into the batter. The technique produces a very moist cake. The original recipe called for Bushmills Irish whiskey, but you can substitute another brand (if you dare).

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained

4 ounces butter

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

2 cups golden raisins

1/2 cup candied cherries, chopped

1/2 cup fruit and peel mix

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 large eggs, beaten

2 to 3 tablespoon Bushmills Irish whiskey 

1. In a large saucepan, combine pineapple, butter, sugar, raisins, cherries, fruit and peel mix. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat a 9-inch loaf pan or 4 to 5 (3-inch) mini loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray 

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir into fruit mixture; stir in eggs.  

4. Spoon batter into prepared pan(s) and bake large cake for 60 to 75 minutes (test with a skewer at 55 minutes), or mini loaves for about 50 minutes, or until skewer inserted into center comes out clean. 

5. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Prick top of each cake in several places and brush with whiskey while still warm.

6. Remove cake(s) from pan and let cool completely. Wrap cake(s) in plastic wrap and then in in aluminum foil. Store at room temperature for up to 4 weeks or freeze for 1 to 2 months. 

 

 

Fruitcake Cookies.

 

MINI BUNDT FRUITCAKES 

Makes about 35

Another “mini” fruitcake is this one baked in a 12-well mini Bundt pan. You can use a cupcake pan if you don’t have one of these specialty pans.

4 ounces unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup crushed pineapple, undrained

1/4 cup each golden raisins, dates, raisins and dried cranberries.

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup fruit and peel mix

2 tablespoon dark rum

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat wells of a mini-Bundt pan or cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

2. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt, and vanilla until smooth.

3. Adds eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour; stir in pineapple, fruits, nuts, candied cherries and rum. 

4. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into center of one comes out clean.

5. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Invert pan onto rack and let cakes cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter. At serving time, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

 

Mini Bundts.

 

FRUITCAKE COOKIES

MAKES ABOUT 4 DOZEN COOKIES

Lift the lid from a container of Paradise Old English Fruit and Peel Mix and you’ll find recipes for any number of recipes using their holiday fruit. This one for fruitcake “cookies” is a great alternative to a traditional cake.

4 ounces butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon soda 

1/4 cup buttermilk 

1 cup candied cherries, chopped 

1 cup chopped dates 

1/2 cup fruit and peel mix

3/4 cup chopped pecans 

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

2. In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well blended. 

3. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup flour, salt and baking soda. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk.

4. Toss cherries, dates and fruit and peel mix with the remaining 2 tablespoons flour; fold into batter. Fold in chopped pecans. 

5. Drop by spoonsful onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. 

Bake for 8 to 13 minutes (depending on size of cookies) until cookies are firm. Let cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight container. 

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page also includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed copy of her latest cookbook “Teatime in Ireland,” visit www.irishcook.com

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