December 20, 2005
not overdue, but overbaked, probably
No, I haven't forgotten about it. I am talking about the dried fruits that I steeped in rum and brandy for Christmas fruit cake in October; back then, I did plan to bake my fruit cakes one month before Christmas, which would have been at the end of November, but I've changed my mind. The recipe of cake I have decided to use for this Christmas suggests that the cake should be ready to eat after 4th day from baking it, and best eaten between the 1st and 2nd weeks. This makes it perfect that I baked the cake on this past Sunday, one week before Christmas day, I thought.
And the recipe is by none other than Monsieur Pierre Herme, in one of his books called La Patisserie de Pierre Herme (Japanese translation published by Shibata Shoten, 1999). The recipe was for cake aux fruits, or literally fruit cake, It uses a bunch of dried fruits such as melon and apricot, which for the most part I ignored; I just used my fruits, including two figs, two plums, sultanas, pears, and candied orange and lemon peel that have been soaked in rum and brandy for two months now. I used a small portion of the whole thing and was left with almost a jar-full of it, so it looks like I will be having a one-year old fruits when I make fruit cake for Christmas next year.
And although Monsieur Herme doesn't use nuts in this particular fruit cake, I used some anyways, because I like lots of nuts in my Christmas cake, and that's what I do all the time. For this time I had walnuts from France, Brazil nuts from the UK (originally from Bolivia, the package says), pistachios and hazelnuts from Italy, and almonds from Spain. I also used cassonade (brown sugar) in place of regular sugar. Basically, I am aware that I was making something which is not what Herme tells you to make in the book, but it's okay.
What isn't okay was that I, lo and behold, overbaked the cake yet again. Heck, I was watching it carefully every 10 or 20 minutes, but I must have missed the critical moment. Unlike last two years when I used mini-loaf pans, I baked a cake in a regular, 6- or 7-inch loaf pan because I wanted to use the pan that I had just bought last month, and I messed up here. I also baked a mini one using the extra batter, and ironically, this one seemed to have baked better.
Anyways, I've wrapped up the cakes tight and we'll see how they turn out a week from now.
By the way, while I don't mind waiting for a cake to "mature" over the period of a few weeks or months after making it, I do want to have something I can eat right away, too. That's why I baked pistachio-chocolate cakes and fig cakes on the same day I baked Christmas cakes last year and the year before the last, respectively. Likewise, this year I made pistachio-fig-cranberry cakes.
I had made fig and pistachio cake based on a recipe from dona hay magazine (Issue #18, 2004) last month and liked it a lot, so decided to give it another go. But then, when I was about to make one, I somehow changed my mind and made sugar-, egg- and butter-free fruit cakes (original recipe is this [in Japanese] but I've made changes to better suit my taste), using the conbination of nut and fruits I had originally had in my mind. I soaked the them in red wine (a bit sweet one), a little brandy and balsamic vinegar, but their delicate flavor was overpowered by wholewheat flour used in the batter, I thought. Other than that, the cakes were okay and made a little nibbles on any given day of this week leading up to the Christmas day. And yes, I sprikled some cassonade over those supposedly sugar-free cakes, but that's minor....
posted by chika at: 12/20/2005 03:33:00 AM