Ally

Archive for December 2011

As the world turns, the carousel of dried fruits spin under the twilight, sparkling like gems underneath the dark, dark night…

My dad needed placating. The best way? To bake him a batch of fruitcake.

It started with subtle hints: Rolling the shopping cart by supermarket displays of fruitcake and looking downcast, looking at a bag of dried fruits in the fridge and wonder wherever the last piece of fruitcake from last summer went… Then came the outright pursuit: Elbows my shoulder and goes, “When are you making fruitcake?” or that Supernatural episode when a neighbour came by offering fruitcake or a Foodography (on Food Network Asia) featured Christmas delights and needless to say which delight made a debut.

Soon before long, I saw myself (out of body, almost) gliding along the shelves of Phoon Huat at Bugis, shopping for almond meal, mixed fruits and cinnamon; some of the many ingredients that contribute to dark, rich and pucker-your-lips sweet festive morsel. I was determined and my mom was quick to add: “You sure about this?”

Roughly two days later, I was cooking the mixed fruits in freshly squeezed orange juice and more fairy dust later (to spare you the antagonizing description of two hours worth of preparation) I spooned the batter into 12-hole mini muffin tins (hence the stunted shape) and baked them till they turned deep treacle.

On a random note,  I wish treacle was a recognize colour-word. Like, look at that boy, he has turned treacle! (Please refrain from imagining how a boy could possibly, or logically so, turn treacle. That might turn you blue, dizzy and the hope for permanent memory loss.)

In matters of taste, the cake has a dense consistency thanks to the use of whole wheat flour. The first pleasant shock you’ll receive is from the orange zest. Second, playfulness is laced by a fiery spice blend of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon while being wildly punctuated with sweet and tarty mixed fruits: consisting of dried cherries, sultanas and cranberries. Finally, the addition of almond meal lends a moist and rich feel.

Quite honestly, this is the first time I’m baking them as mini cakes. I usually shovel the batter into a non-stick loaf tin such that the fruitcake is more like a fruit loaf. To which I later slice and serve. However, in true honour of my household which barely lets the cake crumb pass their lips (my mom and brother aren’t dessert aficionados, much less talk about this retiring dessert queen named me…), past efforts to preserve the culture maintain the festive cheer all year round for my dad reached a stalemate. Literally.  I ever had to gingerly slice off a piece of frosted with mold to save myself the heartache of sending it to the bin.

Horror story aside, I hope it serves as a reminder that fruitcake is best left in the fridge to “mature” (if you’re drenched it in alcohol) but only good for a month or so. If you’d still like to put your fruitcake where your mouth is, I suggest you slam-dunk it in the freezer as soon as you stop stealing bites from it after a month. It should stick in the freezer for a good three months or more (muffins can go up to six months, fyi).

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Cookies, or scones? Or Sookies? I’d rather think of them as mounds of cookie dough temptation…

Two hours to spare, a pair of restless hands, two mixing bowls… The perfect afternoon fix: Baking for Christmas!

Honestly, I don’t celebrate Christmas or in that matter, I don’t celebrate any holiday. By celebrate I mean pompous merry-making with confetti and reindeer sweatshirts and festive eggnog. I suppose most families go for simplistic merriment these days (Confetti. Seriously?!) but I hardly take time off to buy a Christmas pine and actually string lights on it.

With that said, lightly spiced cookies spotted with dried, plump cranberries and cheeky white, milky chocolate chips peeking out from the shroud of flour and oats. The flour, the first in my baking record, was all-purpose, mainly a submission to curiosity on how the texture differs if I were to stick to the refined white dust. The result? An unmistakably soft (slightly dense thanks to the rolled oats) cookie which gave the white chocolate chips a pronounced sweetness.

Now the white chocolate addition (to which is also my first in my entire baking record) triumphs a milk chocolate variety. Why? Because I stay away from using butter (instead I use either olive or rice oil), the white chocolate lent such a creamy and buttery flavour, paired with the tangy berries, expect an overall surprise twist to the taste. This is the cookie you want to miss dinner for!

Ok. Maybe I’ve been a little too harsh with dealing with meal replacement. Kids, stick to your three square meals. Surely you wouldn’t want your mom to hit you on the back of a wooden ladle while chasing you to finish your green peas and brussel sprouts.

Also, since I’ve been a far too complacent with my blogging habits and only decidedly finish this post today (four days after Christmas, haha), I guess this cookie is better off joining of the twelve cookie bakes for Christmas in 2012. Till then, cheers to a new year, new resolution and ample resolute to accomplish whatever your heart desires.

Run like the wind Bullseye!