Marion Cunningham's Italian Fruitcake w/ Thyme & Figs
It's time to bake my annual holiday cake.
Last year it was this delicious ricotta orange cranberry cake, which everyone loved, but this year it's going to be some kind of dried fruit cake.
I don't care if you hate fruitcake.
I don't want to hear your problems.
I LOVE fruitcake.
You know I love dried fruits, and I love cake, so what's the issue?
I am sure you have your aunt's horrible holiday fruit cake story to share with us, so go ahead, we are listening.
This gorgeous recipe might change your mind, but hey, I love a mincemeat pie made with beef suet too.
Just a note before we bake:
to the anonymous commenter who is a fan of my mother's cooking, and thinks I am too harsh on Elayne, this story should make you happy.
One of the very few things my mother made well was a fruitcake.
She spent about $60, back in the day, on good dried fruits and booze, and wrapped this treasure in cheesecloth and tended to it better than she tended to her cats (whose photos she carried in her wallet, btw).
She would go into the dining room (where children were not allowed) every few days and add cognac to the package, and for 6 weeks she talked about how good this would be.
The anticipation was killing us.
Finally, we peasants were allowed a tiny sliver one holiday, and I fell in love with this so called "fruitcake".
OK, enough feel good stories about my childhood, let's make this beautiful cake.
I have been making this recipe since the '80's and forgot all about it.
This is Marion Cunningham's recipe, you know, the author of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, not Richie Cunningham's mother from Happy Days.
It is not a traditional fruitcake, but instead, made w/ polenta and thyme, soaked in Madeira.......and my beloved figs.....need I say more?
There is no soaking in liquor; tending to it for weeks; or a dried out brick.
This cake yields a not too sweet, moist interior with luscious Madeira soaked figs.
It freezes beautifully and is perfect for mailing, if you are the type of person who sends a fruitcake as a gift.
(I may become one).
The original recipe calls for pine nuts, but I use pistachios. Either or.
And if you don't have Madeira, then you can substitute a good port or dry Spanish sherry.
Marion Cunningham's Italian Fruitcake w/ Thyme & Figs:
1 cup Calimyrna figs, chopped
1/2 cup of Madeira (a fortified wine from Madeira) or sherry
1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
1/2 cup of water
1 1/4 cups of cake flour (I used all purpose flour)
1/4 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios
confectioners sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease and flour a 9" springform pan.
Combine the water, Madeira, figs and thyme and simmer in a small saucepan for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and strain, reserving 1/2 of the stewing liquid.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, corn meal and baking soda in a large bowl and sift together.
In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar and eggs and beat for a full minute until nice and fluffy.
Add in the dry ingredients in 2 parts alternately with the reserved fig liquid. Stir in the wet figs and nuts.
Spread into the prepared pan and bake 40-50 minutes.
Let the cake rest 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack.
When fully cooled, dust with powdered sugar.
Gets better each day.
Aren't you excited about fruitcake now??????