As promised, I will talk today about gifts from your kitchen. I'll start with the all-time favorite holiday gift--fruitcake. Fruitcakes come in two forms--edible, and inedible! Hopefully, one of the recipes in these books will be a winner for you and your gift recipient.
The first place I looked was in Joy of Cooking, the 75th anniversary edition, by Irma S. Rombauer [641.5 ROM].
ABOUT FRUITCAKESWhoa! Remember, "enjoyed" is a completely relative term! Joy of Cooking has two vastly different fruitcakes, one is light, "Fruitcake Cockaigne," and the other dark, "Dark Fruitcake." My preference would be the light cake because besides the candied fruit, it has nuts and coconut.
Many people feel that these cakes improve greatly with age, though not everyone agrees. When they are well saturated with alcoholic liquors, which raise the spirits and keep down mold, and are buried in powdered sugar in tightly closed tins, they have been reported to be enjoyed as long as twenty-five years after baking.
Heritage Cook Book (Better Homes and Gardens [641.5 HER] also has two fruitcakes--"Poor Man's" and "Very Best." "Poor Man's Fruitcake" is a simple recipe without any candied fruit at all--raisins are the only fruit listed. Since it is an old recipe, the shortening in the ingredients is lard. I'm sure butter could be substituted. "Very Best Fruitcake" contains every kind of candied fruit, plus is wrapped in wine or brandy soaked cheesecloth and aged for a brief period of time. If you're thinking of making a "Very Best Fruitcake," you still have time to make and "age" your cake before the holiday.
So far, of the books I looked at, Ken Haedrich's Country Baking: Simple Home Baking with Wholesome Grains and the Pick of the Harvest [641.71 HAE] has the most interesting fruitcake recipes--"Dark and Moist Cranberry Nut," and "Ricotta." The first is a variation of "Pumpkin Molasses Cake," which includes cranberries, raisins, apricots, and dates, plus, apple cider! Yum! "Ricotta" is a light variety with pineapple, golden raisins, and coconut. Double yum!
Nearly every general recipe book will have a recipe for fruitcake, the above three are only a small sample! There's enough time between now and Christmas to make several and decide for yourself which is the best!