Ally

Plucked from the sweetest vine: Majestic but Shrunken Fruitcake

Posted on: December 30, 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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