I think we are finished baking Christmas cookies. B did the bulk of the work, with assists from me and T.
gingerbread with frosting
cranberry pistachio biscotti
We also have homemade fruitcake which is made with dried fruits rather than candied.
There is still a batch of fudge to make to be ready for Christmas dinner dessert.
Lasagna will be the main course. We started making it for Christmas Day when my daughters and I were involved in choir for children’s Mass on Christmas morning. Lasagna was an easy thing to prepare ahead and pop in the oven after church so we could still have dinner at noon. We always make the lasagna using the recipe my mom used to make. Because she grew up in an Italian immigrant household, she always had Italian food for Christmas, so we appreciate making that our tradition, too. It’s even more special that she is here to share in our Christmas dinner, along with my dad and B’s mom.
This year will be even more fun because daughter E and her husband L arrived today from Honolulu. We are so excited to have both daughters and our son-in-law here to celebrate with us!
A college friend who reads my blog asked if I’d share our fruitcake recipe, so here it is. Enjoy!
1 16-ounce package (3 cups) pitted prunes, aka dried plums
1 8-ounce package (1 1/2 cups) dried apricots
1 15-ounce package (3 cups) raisins (we usually use golden raisins)
1 8-ounce package (1 1/3 cups) chopped pitted dates
16 ounces additional dried fruits – we usually use cherries and pineapple and additional apricots
1/2 cup apple juice or other clear juice
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups pecan or walnut halves
Cut prunes and apricots into quarters. (If any of the other dried fruits are in large pieces, you may want to cut them, too.) In a large bowl, combine all the dried fruits. Pour the juice over them. Cover and let stand overnight.
In large mixer bowl, cream brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; beat well after each. Stir together flour, salt, and spices. Add flour mixture alternately with banana to butter mixture. Stir in nuts and fruit mixture. Divide the 15 cups of batter into any of the following very well-greased loaf pans:
9x5x3-inch – 4 cups of batter – 3 hours baking time
7 1/2×3 1/2×2-inch – 3 cups of batter – 2 hours baking time
4 1/2×2 1/2×1 1/2-inch – 2 cups of batter – 2 hours baking time
Bake in 250 degree F. oven for time indicted or until golden. (You can check with a toothpick if you can find a bit that has enough cake to test.) Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool on wire rack. Wrap and store in refrigerator. It will store nicely for several weeks in the refrigerator, but also freezes well for longer term storage.
Jokes about fruitcake at Christmas are standard, but fruitcakes are not universally worthy of derision.
Most years, we make several loaves of a wonderful fruitcake. The base recipe came from a co-worker of B’s in his first post-college job and we have modified it over the years to suit our tastes. The main thing that sets it apart from other fruitcakes is that it uses no candied fruits and peels. No unnaturally bright red and green cherries. No citron. All the fruits we use are dried – prunes, apricots, dates, raisins, pineapple, and cherries. (There is also mashed banana in the batter.)
We just finished chopping the dried fruits and have set them to soak until tomorrow in a bit of cider. The recipe calls for brandy, but we prefer non-alcoholic fruitcake, so we use juice.
Ordinarily, the fruitcake would have been made prior to Christmas Day, but this is not an ordinary year. We will keep a couple of mini loaves for ourselves and bring one to B’s mom, but most of the loaves will go to my parents. My father is especially fond of our fruitcake and will slice, wrap, and freeze it to enjoy over the coming months. He likes to bring a slice to enjoy with coffee at Wegman’s while Mom is picking up a few items in the store. He especially loves apricots, so we put extra in for him.
Our fruitcake is definitely too tasty to re-gift!
Update: A friend asked if I’d share the recipe. Enjoy!