This is a picture of a throw that I thankfully finished in time to present to Katie and Andy for Christmas. I started it right after their wedding, and finished it four months later. Ever notice how the more time and effort something takes, the more proud you are of the finished product?
That twisted fringe is a favorite of mine for this type of project. Very durable, and no unraveling!
But this isn't a knitting blog....
The cake below is something that takes a while, but it is not quite as labor-intensive as the pierogi from the last post. I made it last year because we needed a substitute for traditional fruitcake, which my brother loves to serve on Christmas Eve. I'm not clear where I got my inspiration for this particular recipe.....I think it was from the Silly Yaks list again. Like everything else I do, I made my own personal changes and this is the result from two Christmases worth of baking.
John, who never cared for traditional fruitcake, was very enthusiastic about this cake. He refers to this as "the world's only good fruitcake" ....hence the nickname.
Gluten-Free Fruit-Full Christmas Cake
(a.k.a., “The World’s Only Good Fruitcake”)
Almost 2 lbs (or 4 cups) cut-up, dried mixed fruit (cherries, cranberries, apricots, golden raisins, cut-up prunes, dried figs….whatever suits your fancy) (Note: Don’t use fruit from bulk bins due to the possibility of cross contamination with gluten. Inspect your packages….and don’t use the fruit if it says anything like, “manufactured on equipment shared with wheat.”)
1 cup brandy, divided into 2/3 and 1/3 cups
¾ cup butter, softened (1 ½ sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cup Bob's Red Mill GF biscuit & baking mix (has xanthan gum and baking powder in it)
(note from 12/2011: Bob's Red Mill worked better than a different mix used this year!)
1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup apricot jam
Place dried fruit and 2/3 cup brandy in a bowl with a tight-fitting cover.
Let it sit at least overnight (or up to 1 week), stirring/shaking it occasionally.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8” round, 3” high cake pan.
Line bottom and sides of pan with one sheet of parchment paper. (I scrunch it in.)
Using a heavy duty mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl and beat again until it’s uniform in texture.
In a separate bowl, mix the baking mix and spices. Add this to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and blend. Add your marinated fruit and stir until it’s well-combined.
Scrape this mixture into your parchment-lined pan. Press it into the pan and smooth the top surface with wet fingers. Sprinkle the slivered almonds evenly on top, and press them into the batter slightly with wet fingers. The batter may be even with the top of your pan. That’s okay.
Bake your cake for approximately 1 ¾ hours. A tester inserted into the center needs to come out clean. Pour the remaining 1/3 cup brandy over your hot cake.
Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before transferring it to a plate.
Place the apricot jam in a microwaveable custard cup. Microwave it on high for 30 seconds or until warm. Spread this over the top of your cake. Allow it to soak in a while and cool, then you can cover it with plastic wrap for storage.
You will need to start this cake at least 1 day ahead.
Use a serrated knife and a sawing motion for slicing purposes.
Store it covered, but beware: everyone will continually nibble at this cake!