Savor the holidays with fruitcake

A tasty treat: Making a fruitcake for Christmas is a fun holiday tradition.

Making fruitcake at Christmas time was and is a holiday tradition at my house.

Like good wine and personal wisdom, fruitcake becomes better with age. Luckily, fruitcake can age in a few weeks. No worries, however, if you happen to forget about a bourbon-saturated loaf. One year some time ago, we were treated to fruitcake right before Easter, when it was discovered that a small fruitcake had been overlooked, hidden in the back of a hallway closet where it had been stored. This fruitcake has tremendous staying power, but only as long as it remains hidden. Store fruitcake in a cool place.

CHRISTMAS FRUITCAKE

3 cups dark or golden raisins

1 cup chopped dates

4 cups mixed candied fruits

¾ cup red candied cherries

1 cup brandy or bourbon

1 tsp. grated lemon rind

2 tsp. grated orange rind

4 tsp. lemon juice

3 Tbsp. orange juice

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. allspice

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup butter

6 eggs, separated

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. almond extract

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. salt

2 cups walnuts

In a bowl, combine raisins, dates, all candied fruits, bourbon/brandy, rinds, juices and spices. Mix well, and cover. Let stand on kitchen counter overnight or for several hours, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, beat well the sugar, butter, egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts.

Stir in the flour and salt, mixing until the batter is smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold whites into the flour mixture.

Add and stir nuts into the fruit mixture, then stir into the batter.

Grease a large tube pan and one loaf pan or grease three loaf pans. Line all with wax paper, and grease again on the inside of the paper.

Cut off any paper that extends above the pan.

Evenly distribute the batter between/among the pans.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Bake for approximately 2 to 2½ hours for loaf pans and 3 to 3½ hours for tube pan or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool on cake racks. Remove cake from pan, but leave the paper on the cake.

After cake is completely cooled, soak a piece of cheesecloth (the size of the top of the cake) in bourbon/brandy, and lay it on top of the cake.

Wrap the cheesecloth covered cake in tin foil, and then put it in an airtight container. (I use a large plastic zip lock bag.)

Each week, moisten the cheesecloth with a shot of bourbon/brandy and re-wrap.

By Christmas, the fruitcake will be joyously delicious.

Remove wax paper before slicing.

Continue to store unused cake wrapped in an airtight container.

Oops! Last week’s Pineapple Nut Bread recipe should have listed 3 eggs in the ingredients.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)

Recipe Winner:

Congratulations to Lynda Venneri, who submitted the following recipe, and was chosen in a random drawing. Lynda is the November winner of a $100 ShopRite gift card.

STUFFED CHICKEN WITH RICE

4 chicken breasts, flattened

4 Tbsp. rice

1 bouillon cube

2 Tbsp. Ricotta cheese

1 egg

Parmesan cheese (Use as much as you like)

Salt/Pepper (dash)

Milk

4 oz. champagne or white wine

2 oz. water

Bread crumbs

Cook rice with bouillon cube. (Drain excess water)

Pound chicken to flatten, and soak in milk for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix rice, ricotta, egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Scoop rice mix onto chicken, and roll up chicken jelly-roll fashion. (I use toothpicks to hold chicken rolled up.)

Roll in bread crumbs.

Put chicken rolls in a Pyrex dish, and add champagne/wine and water.

Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

After you turn the stove off, let chicken sit for 10 minutes.

Serve with veggies.

The recipe submissions have been wonderful. Please remember to include exact measurements in your recipes. You could be December’s lucky winner. Send your recipe to:

Readers’ Recipes

c/o Northeast Times

2 Executive Campus

Suite 400

Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Or email your recipe to WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com.

Please include your name, home address and telephone number. ••