I was determined to make this cake before the holiday season was completely over, having asked for the recipe and bought coconut and pineapple and all, and this morning’s snow inspired me to – big, clumpy flakes that fell out of the sky until noon when they gave way to blowing sparkles that you could see but barely feel on our walk down to the river at Sandy (in this case, snowy) Beaches.
We had a dinner and games night planned at my Mom’s, so I had somewhere to bring the surplus. And I had been pondering the idea of fondue on New Year’s Eve (also technically this blog’s year-long wrap-up) and it occurred to me that this sturdy cake would be ideal for a chocolate fondue, for which I might otherwise make pound cake (anything firm and dense is easy to cut into cubes and won’t fall apart in the chocolate) and thin, small biscotti. In fact, a dense light fruitcake sliced thinly, spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and baked until golden would make mighty fine, light and crispy biscotti-esque cookies.
So then I thought of caramel fondue, which is divine served with white cheese popcorn for dipping. No, wait – maple caramel fondue. Or sticky toffee fondue. Or both!
Obviously I don’t have a month to wrap and store it, but it was fantastic all the same. This is R’s recipe as she sent it, but I opted for other dried fruits in place of the candied cherries, which I just find a little blech. (Not to mention all that food colouring. And how do they get the cherries bright green anyway? Green plus red does not make green…) I’m not a huge fan of things flavoured with almond extract, but this worked. I’m thinking that maybe next time coconut extract would be just the thing with all that coconut. If you are a ginger fan, this would make a great vehicle for chunks of candied ginger.
You will need a very big bowl. There is barely enough batter to hold the fruit and nuts together (yum). Bake the batter in two 9″x5″ loaf pans. I’ll also add imperial measurements beside the weights, for those of you who don’t own a kitchen scale.
Light Coconut Christmas Cake
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups crushed pineapple (not drained)
2 lbs sultana raisins (about 7 cups)
1 lb shredded coconut (about 4 cups)
1/2 lb citron peel (I used a small container - 250 g – but you could use a larger one)
1/2 lb halved candied cherries (about 2 cups – I used some cherries, some cranberries, some chopped dried apricots, a few dates)
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup brandy or fruit juice (you could just use more of the juice from the pineapple)
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and flavorings. Sift 1 1/2 cups of the flour and baking powder. Combine the fruit and nuts with the remainder of the flour (1 cup). Add the pineapple and brandy alternately with the flour and baking powder. Stir in the fruit and nut mixture. Bake in 2 loaf pans at 275 degrees for about 3 hours with a pan of water in the oven. Wrap in brandy soaked cheesecloth for a month in a cool place.
Makes 2 fruitcakes.
Dinner itself was the slow-roast beef my mom likes to make for occasions such as these – start with an 8-12 pound boneless rolled roast of beef – eye of round is what she usually uses – and preheat the oven to 450F. Put your roast in the oven (in a pan, obviously) and immediately turn the oven down to its lowest setting and leave it for 8 hours. This works well overnight or all day – make sure you don’t open the oven door to take a peek. After 8 hours, turn the oven up to 350F for about 20 minutes to heat it through, then shred with two forks and season with barbecue sauce and serve on soft buns. (Alternatively, you could brown the beef in a frying pan and then cook it on low in your slow cooker all day.)