My middle name means "victorious". It was because of this that since I was young (and before the spice girls) I wanted to change my first name to Victoria. I was sure that once it was changed it would be more fitting to who I was and wanted to be. But then I was a silly girl, and I learned to love Jennifer because it could be sweet and coy as Jenny, intimate and practical as Jen, and timeless in its fullest form. No, my name suits me well with all my whims and changing fancy. My great grandmother in law had similar sentiments, although she followed through with them. She was named Lizzie, but everyone knew her as Elizabeth. She knew what she wanted and made it so, even with food.
This cake bears the name of another infamous christmas bread. The infamy is so hindering that some people have almost turned down a taste because of the correlation. That very reason is why I have changed the name of the cake, in case you would read the title of the recipe, deem it worthless, and (heaven forbid) pass it by. It should not be ignored, but affectionately baked, savored, and remembered. Because of Elizabeth, what you know of this little cake, or what you think you know about it will change. It will make your home smell like Christmas, it will be difficult to eat only one slice, and it will not be regifted.
This cake is one of the recipes I will be demonstrating on saturday for another seasonal foods class. have you signed up? Visit the events page for more information (including the rest of the menu) and to sign up.
elizabeth hayley's christmas cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 cup raisins, black or golden
1 cup nuts, roughly chopped
1 cup dried citron mix or your own mix of dried fruit, roughly chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup applesauce
1 - 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 275 - 300 degrees fahrenheit.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In another smaller bowl, combine the nuts and dried fruits. Add 1/2 - 1 cup of the flour mixture to the fruit and mix well, making sure the nuts and fruit are well coated. This is called dredging and helps so the fruit and nuts won't stick together and create a continent of dried things in your cake.
In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, the applesauce, and vanilla extract. Add the flour a spoonful at a time, then add the fruit/nuts, gently combining.
Spoon into two parchment lined or buttered loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven on center rack for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. It will become fragrant well before then.
When removed from the oven you have a couple choices. You can let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and left to cool completely on the rack. Or you can poke deep holes into the cake right after it comes out and drizzle maple syrup, or your favorite liquor on top, to add an incredible amount of richness and flavor. Save those cakes only for those you are ardent for. Allow the cake and liquor to seep and meld together, removing the cake when it is cool enough to handle.
This cake is much better in the days following.
nut options include pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts. I am sure there are other nuts that would be lovely in a quick bread such as this.
dried fruit options include figs, pineapple, apricots, mango, candied ginger, and Allred Orchards make wonderful dried tart cherries.
I am working on a version that uses more natural sugars, and whole wheat. It will likely make the appearance at the class this saturday.
is it fruitcake weather where you are?