Thursday, December 11, 2014

Midweek Roundup

December 11, 2014:

     There were a few recurrent themes in last week's English Dried Fruit Cake:  one was fear and loathing of fruitcake and the other was love of rum (or other spirits).

     Glori's comment was typical of the Fearsome Fruitcake Syndrome:  "Oh no, door stop or regift for the  next 5 years."  Nancy described fruitcake as that "sticky dense cake with all the candied cherries."  Kim couldn't even identify the cherries:  "I’m just not attracted to those fluorescent green or red or yellow bits of mystery fruit.".  Judy remembered fruitcake as "those things you see at Walgreens in the tins ... that ... at holiday parties ... [after] all the shrimp was gone, cold cut platter cleaned off, even the jello was eaten, but alas, the fruitcake ... remained intact..."  Harsh words. Or consider Nicola's recollection of her childhood experience with fruitcake:  "The only way to make them edible to my young palate was to eat the fondant, throw away the almond paste and slather butter on the cake.  Quite a complicated process really."

But, not surprisingly, Rose made believers of us.  Or, in Hanaa's words, "Who knew fruit cake could taste so good!!!"   According to Patricia, this cake is "packed full of flavor and was just enough to satisfy my taste for something sweet."  Kristina distinguished a Rose fruitcake from an ordinary one:  "I don't typically like fruitcake.  I like dried fruit, though!"  So did Lois:  "This full of flavor cake bears no similarity to something you might see at the dollar store in December."  Katya's neighbor told her,  "This fruit cake is so good! I don't normally get excited about this kind of thing, but this is, well, exciting."  Maggie liked hers too, although she did a lot of beautification, adding frosting (Rose's Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate) and fondant poinsettias.  Personally, I have a fear of fondant that's even stronger than my fear of fruitcake, but that's another story.  Alice brought hers to work, where it was a big success, but she made sure not to call it a fruitcake, so as not to frighten people away.  A fruitcake by any other name apparently tastes better.

     And Catherine, in this week's best (and only) use of obscure Australian slang, declared the cake "a doddle," even though in her first attempt she mistakenly used self-rising flour, along with baking soda and baking powder, with unfortunate results.  

     Some of us were downright giddy at the thought of saturating a dessert with rum.  "Rum! I love a boozy cake," exclaimed Evil Cake Lady.  As Jill said, "And don't forget the Rum!!  Well, you can if you want to, but who eats fruit cake without Rum??  Isn't that part of the fun..."  And Jenn, who thought the fruitcake in Rose's Heavenly Cakes didn't have enough rum to lift it from the fruitcake doldrums, this one, after being "doused with a whole lot of rum," did.  
     Monica thought the rum may have been the highlight of the cake:   "...[T]he rum gave it a nice boozy touch, which is always a good thing in my book with cakes."  Michele even upped the ante with  a "buttery rum sauce [that ] proved to be a perfect complement to the cake."  Although even here there was no unanimity.  Mendy took a more sober view:  "I could not bring myself to put rum on this perfectly decent cake."

   And there was an enthusiastic minority who looked forward to any kind of fruitcake.  Vicki announced to her family, "We have fruitcake!"  And it was not a warning, because "Rose is solely responsible for converting [her] offspring to the wonders of fruitcake ... and they consider it a holiday requisite."  And Faithy was rhapsodic:  "I love fruitcakes! I adore Rose's fruit cake recipe in HCB and bake them every Christmas without fail..and I will bake enough that will last till Chinese New Year."  Raymond is such a fruitcake lover that "every year my friends collect all the store-bought fruit cakes they get and give them to me and I enjoy them for weeks."

     By and large, this fruitcake appealed to both the confirmed fruitcake lover and the fruitcake convert.  But you may be happy to get to a recipe with no fruit.  (Unless you count apricot lekvar or apricot preserves as a fruit, which seems a lot like trying to say that ketchup is a vegetable).  Next up are Ischler cookies, aka The Ischler.  I made these last week, and they are fantastic.  However, you may want to read the notes to the recipe before you actually start baking, especially the suggestion about how to successfully roll out this quite sticky dough.  I'm sure that all of you will remember to read through the entire recipe, including the Notes, before baking, unlike some people I know.  


  1. Opps..sounds like me..I sometimes don't read the entire recipe..I read at the same time I make it along the way. :p My Ischler dough is still in the fridge since last week.. so lazy to roll it out.. :p

  2. I sort of scan the recipe first to make sure i have all that I need and make a shopping list.. then I sit back and read it, and highlight things I may forget the day of baking. I have the apricots soaking.. so lekvar is going to get done tomorrow.. and then cookie baking ... by the way in amazon page the recipe is printed, so we can technically link back to that in our post - you welcome.

  3. Great write up. Looking forward to making the Ischler cookies this weekend. I don't really think of apricot lekvar as a fruit per se, but the amount of dried apricots needed for the recipe was $12 so maybe in this case I will.

  4. I love love love the roundup! Woody and I made the Ischlers last week for a demo and just want to mention one thing i've recently discovered: when i say to roll cookie dough or pie crust 1/8" thick i am actually rolling it between 1/16" and 1/8" thick because the rubber bands that i have which slip on either end of the rolling pin to determine the distance from the counter to the dough have to stretch in order to fit on my pin, making them thinner, and therefore making the distance between the pin and the dough less than 1/8". that said, it's fine to do 1/8" but i personally prefer a thinner cookie and pie crust! either way, it's a fabulous cookie--one of my top favs!

  5. Great round up Marie - I don't know how you manage to fit everyone in but you do.

    Good to hear about the cookie thickness Rose - I actually have one of those rolling pins that you buy with various disks that you can attach to guide you to different thicknesses. I was dismayed to find I had 1/4 or 1/16 but no 1/8th. So I used the 1/16 and tried to stop before the disk was touching the bench - with variable success. But the cookies were actually fine at 1/16 or just over. I have just given some to work colleagues for Christmas - and they asked for the recipe!

  6. ב''ה

    Great roundup.

    I found it too easy to skimp on chocolate side of the Ischler. Don't forget to put more than just a thin spread!

  7. nice Write up Marie, and I did not know you have a fear for fondant wow sorry to hear that I thought I'd just add a little extra touch and it tastes really good with dreamy creamy white chocolate, I also added extra plain syrup to soak the fruit cake.

  8. Your Midweek Roundups are really fun to read. Thanks for them! You so accurately summarize how we all felt about each recipe. They must take you forever to write! Do you write them every week? Hope so.

    1. Kim,
      How thoughtful of you to notice that they take a long time! They do, but I mostly enjoy writing them (except for when the writing cuts into my bedtime). I try to write one every week, but may ask for volunteers to fill in when I'm gone for more than a week.

  9. Marie, great writeup! I had to google doldrums :). Most people you know probably don't use recipes that has "Notes" or "Plan/make ahead" sections.

  10. I made crackers from my leftover Fruit Cake! They are a wee bit sweet, but that's easy to compensate for. They made a great Sunday breakfast with cheese. I tried to add the photos to this post, but it wasn't easy, so I posted it to my blog. Come check it out and let me know what you think.

  11. Marie: thanks so much for your posts, so much fun to read! It seems to take me most of Mondays to get my own post online and look at everyone else's. You do all of that and the midweek roundup as well! We do appreciate it. Looking forward to baking day tomorrow!

  12. hello Marie, I have posted mine too and I'm feeling so sick, I think I got the flu or some kind of a bug and its been going on for 2 weeks almost.