Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Baking: Florentine Christmas Fruitcake

 

Florentine Christmas Cake (0024) by Meeta K. Wolff  

As early as August is when the stores and supermarkets here begin stocking up on Christmas-ware and food treats. It’s crazy in September as I see scary chocolate ghosts and pumpkins lined along the shelves with smiling Santas and cute snowmen. I often wonder if people really indulge in Christstollen, lebkuchen and co. when the heat is on in the sweltering months.

I can’t imagine anyone in the mood for a cool refreshing beer and bratwürst fresh off a grill in the sultry warm summer evening, thinking about trick or treat goodies and craving a marzipan stollen all at the same time.

Yes, it does have very much to do with the state of the mind. However, my mind is not really geared for Christmas goodies when I am still trying to hold onto the last of the summer goodness.

I block it out. Seventeen years in Germany and I have become a master in simply ignoring Christmas comestibles and baubles in the middle of August. The chocolate snowmen will have to smile long and hard for me to take notice of them when all I have eyes for are the delicious summer berries and light desserts.

Florentine Christmas Cake (0016) by Meeta K. Wolff

Eventually, it happens though. Usually towards the end of November, I am taken in by the merriness and the Yule tidings. “Last Christmas” plays it’s infinite loop on the radio and the stores are filled with aggressive and unfriendly people, armed with their elbows to jab you in the ribs if you even dare to look at their object of desire.

The overcrowded Weihnachtsmarkt makes it close to impossible to rush into town to do a few quick errands, but boy does it smell good. The air is filled with a heavenly scent of spices and baked delicacies and my mood switches - just like that.

Humming with the infinite loop on the radio, we bring down our winter decoration and begin to spruce up the house. The hand carved wooden Räuchermann takes his place on the bookshelf and dried tangerines and limes are arranged in bowls along with candles and wooden ornaments.

Florentine Christmas Cake Diptych (0006) by Meeta K. WolffFlorentine Christmas Cake Diptych (0021) by Meeta K. Wolff

In the kitchen the counter is packed with a variety of dried fruit, nuts, sugar and spice. Together with an over excited 8 year old, we begin to make a list of all the treats we want to bake. The list is long. Presents, special thank-yous, little surprises and big treats for friends and family – there really is nothing better then little packed boxes and bags of baked delicacies.

We’ll spend a whole weekend in a baking frenzy with specks of flour on the cheeks and chocolate trails around the lips. Yes, I could have started baking weeks ago – but then I was busy enjoying Summer and Autumn. But now, as the hills are topped with snow, the cold air tingles with a crispness and the neat little houses sparkle with colorful fairy lights in the twilight, I feel the onset of Christmas. 

Florentine Christmas Cake (0027) by Meeta K. Wolff 

Each year I make a traditional fruitcake. One that is very dear to my heart as you will read in that particular post. But the experimentalist in me is forever looking for ways to improve a winning recipe. Sometimes the experiments work and sometimes they don’t but one thing is for sure I always come out of the experiments wiser.

I understand in the USA fruitcakes are frowned upon and not very highly regarded. How could a delight of divine spices, fruit and nuts, with a drizzle of booze not hit the right notes?

This is a revamped version of the traditional fruitcake I have been making for the past several years. Over the years I have made small changes to the cake but this year I took it to an entirely new level. Dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries and raisins, speckled with candied orange peel and ginger, and luscious marzipan give the cake a moist and sublime flavor. The topping is a take on the famous Florentine biscuit, in my version I use whole salted macadamia nuts, pecans, sliced almonds and hazelnuts and Maraschino cherries.  

Florentine Christmas Fruitcake

Printable version of recipe here

Ingredients

For the cake

280g all-purpose flour
250g butter, room temperature
140g muscovado sugar
6 eggs, lightly beaten
85g ground almonds
2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground all spice
700g mixed dried fruit of choice, I used
- blueberries
- cherries
- cranberries
- raisins
- candied orange peel
- candied ginger
140g marzipan, cubed
2-3 tablespoons rum

For the topping

50g salted whole macadamia nuts
50g pecan nuts
85g almonds, sliced
85g hazelnuts, sliced
140g Maraschino cherries
80g maple syrup
20g black treacle

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly butter and line the base and sides of a deep round cake form with a loose bottom (22cm) with baking paper.

  2. In a bowl whisk the sugar, butter, flour, eggs, ground almonds and spices with an electric hand held beater. Whisk the mixture until the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated and it is thick and creamy.

  3. Weigh about 100g of the batter into a smaller bowl and set it aside for the topping.

  4. In the rest of the batter fold in the fruit and rum using a spatula, then gently stir in the marzipan. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake form, smoothing the top with the spatula. Bake the cake for approx. 1 to 1.5 hours (mine took about 1.25 hours).

  5. In the meantime, mix all the nuts and Maraschino cherries with the 100g cake batter that was reserved to make the topping. Pour in the treacle and maple syrup and stir until everything is coated well.

  6. Once the cake has baked for 1-1.5 hours remove from oven and spoon the topping mixture over the top, distributing it evenly. Cover loosely with some aluminum foil and place bake in the over for another 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes to brown the nuts. The cake is ready when a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of it comes out clean.

  7. Cool cake completely in tin, then turn it out and cover tightly with foil. The cake will keep for 1-2 weeks stored in a cool dry place.

 


Verdict

Florentine Christmas Cake (0014) by Meeta K. Wolff 

A jewel! It’s all I can say about this. I was extremely pleased with the results and baking it was a real breeze. It definitely is a rich and full bodied cake but the perfect treat for a relaxing Sunday afternoon after a long walk in the cold crisp winter air. A warming pot of spiced tea and slices of this cake will put a smile on the faces of your loved ones. The pairing of the crunchy topping and soft, fruity and moist cake is magnificent. The best part is – the cake keeps for a few weeks and it only gets better.

If you are wondering where I got those lovely bamboo and wooden props in my prep photos above let me direct you over to Restaurantware.com. It's a treasure chest for props. I especially love their Bamboo items.

Next week there’s more Christmas baking here on What’s For Lunch, Honey? so stay tuned as I share a variety of delicious cookies.

Hope you all have a grand weekend.

More Christmas treats from WFLH:

Marzipan Almond Kipferl Chocolate & Coconut French Yule Log Scandinavian Gingerbread House - Pepparkakstuga

 


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

59 comments :

  1. My only problem with you Meeta, is that I will never ever dare to cook for you. I'm sure others have told you the same :D But if we happen to be in the same kitchen some day, I'll be an happy assistant! I will have to try this cake - we are going to my parents for Christmas, and I'm sure my family will love this!
    And oh, your pictures....

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  2. Meeta, that looks wonderful, I feel so Christmassy now! I love the idea of florentines being fused with cake. Completely inspirational as ever!

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  3. Oh yes i do dislike with a passion when they star hristmas things in the shop so early here too.
    Love the cake but i jus tlove that topping.

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  4. Gorgeous clicks Meeta...so very festive. I love this very fruity nutty cake. For years even I have been making a fruit cake recipe I cherish but I guess its time to revamp it!

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  5. Yours is a jewel studded post Meeta. especially LOVE the tone of pictures this time. Warm,festive,engaging,enticing ... I could go on forevah! What a fabulous cake!

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  6. That fruitcake is splendid! It would make a wonderful gift. As usual, your post is delightful.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. my mom bakes the most wonderful fruitcake..I hope I can do that someday...yours look amazing!

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  8. Brilliant, I am not a big Chrismas cake eater, but this version could change my opinion!!! Love all the nuts!!

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  9. Meeta this is the answer to my "prayers". I have not gotten round to doing my traditional Xmas cake and was wondering what to do. Now I know! This looks amazing. Can't wait to get baking. Hx

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  10. In is the same here. Costco starts selling Christmas deco in August. Mein Raeuchermaenchhen ist auch schon ausgepackt und steht auf dem Kaminsims.
    What a delicious looking fruit cake. I just started my Christmas baking and will keep note of it. Thanks.

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  11. This is a special treat Meeta. Have a wonderful holiday season.

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  12. Beautiful photographs of a beautiful cake. This type of fruitcakes are what the holidays are all about. Happy holidays Meeta!
    Magda

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  13. I simply adore your second photo Meeta - you've really managed to capture the pure spirit of Christmas. Not sure why Americans aren't into fruitcakes, but boy are they missing out! I love 'em even though I only ever get to eat them in summer. As you say - a combo of booze, fruit & nuts can never be wrong.

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  14. This is one splendid cake and it is bookmarked. I want to bake it right now, but i am not sure I will be able to this time before Christmas, but I will HAVE to do it even if it has to be after the holidays. I really do not know how the fruit cakes are frowned upon; for me it is no Christmas without a fruit cake. Love the abundance of nuts and spices in this cake Meeta, and what a pretty post. The spirit, the flavors and the chime of the season so well captured.

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  15. Wat a gorgeous looking cake, sooo tempting..

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  16. Such a lovely post :) and a gorgeous looking cake. I love all your photos. They are awesome :)

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  17. I feel so festive after reading your post. This is a cake I would not want to miss this holiday season. Happy Holidays Meeta

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  18. This cake is shouting holidays, snow and peace to me.There's some thing totally serene in your photos.I have no idea how you manage that but they are soo soo pleasing to the eyes.Loved every bit of it..fruits,nuts and festivity!

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  19. OMG, another amazing sweet surprise (right after I discovered yesterday your macarons). This looks so yummy ..

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  20. Adore fruitcake!! I make one every year!!

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  21. Meeta, I love fruitcake. I may be the only person I know who does :) I especially love how dense and rich yours is. The crunchy topping is a wonderful addition here.

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  22. Oh my god! I can't help it. . perfect for Christmas. This version looks especially tasty.

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  23. I recently had to give up baking, regretting of not getting a better one. There's no way I could do better like you did.

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  24. Your cake looks gorgeous and the florentin topping sounds so good!! A perfect Xmas treat!

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  25. Oh this cake is gorgeous, it's packed with so much flavor!

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  26. Meeta, your fruitcake looks very delicious, such an exquisite styling too! And that's the same about me that I always try to prolong summer in every available way until winter simply cannot be ignored :)
    Have a wonderful holiday preparations!
    Cheers,
    Zara

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  27. just had a quick peek at this post before rushing off to work- it's so beautiful. what a joy it would be to eat this with a cup of tea. x shayma

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  28. Oh baby - I am not a fan of Christmas cake, but there is NOTHING I don't like about Florentines! This looks absolutely fantastic. had to laugh - in South African it's not an endless loop of "Last Christmas" that announces the festive season - it's a loop of Boney M singing Mary's Boy Child :o)

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  29. Pretty cake! I like fruit cake like this!

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  30. Thank you everyone for all your amazing comments. SO glad that you are liking this cake. It is an exquisite, quick & easy. Thank you also for all your comments on the photographs.

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  31. OMG! this is a fruit cake, a serious one! For the time year this I baked a fruit cake as well, can't wait o publish and taste it finally!
    I would love to nibble on a slice of this cake right now!

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  32. Wow! As a lover of fruit cakes I simply cannot ignore how glorious your creation is Meeta!

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  33. i have to admit, i don't really know much about fruitcake - and now that i think about it, i'm not even sure i've ever tasted it before. this one sure looks like a good place to start ! the top of that cake is outrageous !! and the inside looks dense and super moist and chock full of goodies.

    and i am with you, time to let the christmas season be here for real and enjoy it - the cold, snow and all ! munching on some christmas cookies (zimtsterne) as i write this even, miam miam... =)

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  34. I love fruitcakes and yours certainly is a gorgeous cake. No doubt about it.

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  35. Your photos always blow my mind! Your finished product is, of course, beautiful; but the process photos are simply awesome.

    Sues

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  36. Would love to have one slice of this yummilicious cake with my cuppa now.

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  37. I love Christmas Cake, and love your florentine twist. Delicious looking!

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  38. That looks amazing and irresistible! Yummy! :) Petra

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  39. With the holidays coming up, fruitcake is certainly more popular. This one in particular looks very delicious. Hopefully many people will find it tastes as good as it looks. Great post.

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  40. Your post just took me right to Germany with you. I loved hearing about celebrations on another continent! And you're right, this fruit cake does put all the other, bad reputationed-versions of it to shame! Looks gorgeous

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  41. Let me start off by saying the recipe sounds wonderful and I will let you know how it turns out for me in a few days when I make it.
    Also I would have to say I agree with you with regards to the crazy notion that its ok to put chocolate santa's out in September.

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  42. This fruitcake is the ultimate fruitcakes out of all the fruitcakes in the world. I am speechless, but when I do recover my speech, could I have a slice please? oh and some tea,too.

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  43. I love Fruitcakes but never baked one. Yours is so nice.

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  44. This cake is beautiful! I bet any leftover slices woul dmake a fantastic french toast too!

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  45. Now that is a fruitcake I'd LOVE to bite into! :-) I used to hate fruitcake as a child, but now I actually crave it. :-) LOVE your additions of dried cherries and marzipan. Oh my. SO good, Meeta. :-)

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  46. This fruitcake is truly tempting (I wish I had a piece of it right now!) but it's true what you say about fruitcake in North America. In Canada, at least, many seem to fear fruitcake as well as dislike it! Friends give us pannetone every year, but I end up eating almost all of it, trying in vain to entice other people with toasted pannetone, or French bread pannetone, or bread pudding pannetone. I've given up baking fruitcake or Christmas pudding, as so few of my friends and family will actually eat it (and those of us who do end up eating more than we want to!), although I've had better success with panforte, for some reason.

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  47. God this is just toooo pretty. I'm loving that granola topping which has browned perfectly! I'm feeling terribly guilty that I've downright ignored all of Christmas and not made a fruitcake or my mince pies (yet!)

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  48. Thank you all for all your lovely comments! You still have time to make this cake. THAT is the beauty of it - you do not have to make it weeks in advance. So if you've missed making your XMAS cakes do this now - you will not regret it.

    And I am still wondering why some do not appreciate a fruitcake ;o)

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  49. I truly do wonder why christmas goods seem to come out earlier and earlier every year. Soon they will start stocking them in stores the second that the new year has passed! craziness. I'm not ready for Christmas until just about now...which is when the serious cravings for peppermint and gingerbread start to hit. This fruitcake sounds divine and is filled with all sorts of luscious gems!

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  50. Divine! I am going to make this for Christmas.

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  51. Hello. I am a follower of your blog. I haven't made any comments yet but this post has me intrigued. As a fairly accomplished fruit cake maker myself, I do feel that your oven temperature is too high, that being set at 180degrees. Also did you mean fan forced or convention? I think it is better to bake at a slower temp for a longer period. Always in a conventional oven. Also lining the cake tin twice offers the cake better protection. I hope you don't mind me voicing my opinion. I must say, I do like the sound of your chosen fruits.

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  52. This is a great way to welcome Christmas. :)
    The season gets to me too, even though we don't celebrate it. The festive air has me baking like my life depends on it! LOL

    Season's greetings and a very Happy New Year.

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  53. It looks tempting...but don't tell me it's for lunch honey :-)
    www.vegetarian-zone.com

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  54. Love reading all your comments and thoughts of fruitcake. thank you so much!

    Mariana - the 180C works for my oven and gave me perfect results. I have a fan forced oven. As not all ovens are the same you might have to adjust the temperature to suit your own oven. Your advice and comments are always appreciated. Thank you!

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  55. Meeta, I want to make this beautiful cake for my husband's grandmother this year. Did you wrap your cake tin in newspaper as well like with your other cake?

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    1. Adele, I am flattered that this will be the cake!! Hope you all enjoy it. No I did not wrap this in newspaper as I did the traditional one. This bakes quite nicely and evenly. Let me know if you require anything else.

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    2. Thanks, Meeta. I'll let you know how it goes.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta