Sunday, January 2, 2011

Remember Christmas 2010?

I know this post is sorrily tardy. Let's just think of it as really early for next Christmas! Pictures were taken with my new fancy Canon Rebel Camera. Thanks, Santa!

Every year my Aunt and Uncle bring pastries from Pittsburgh bakery, Prantl's, for Christmas Day Brunch. I was looking forward to this bready, frosted, tree-shaped concoction for weeks. It did not disappoint. Isn't it festive? Prantl's doesn't currently ship this or their similar wreath shape pastry that is stuffed with a sugary nut paste. I may just have to write to Bon Appetit to get the recipe so I can bake it up myself.

Fruitcake gets a bad rap, but this version is altogether lovely. Moist inside with a crisp crust, it tastes wonderfully citrus-y due to the whopping 1oz of lemon extract. One slice with your morning coffee would make a perfect, and perfectly simple winter breakfast. A loaf also makes a very nice holiday hostess gift.

Lollie's Lemon Fruitcake
Adapted from Gourmet

Makes 2 loaves

1 lb golden raisins
4 1/2 cups pecan halves (this can be halved if you prefer your cakes less nutty)
3 cups AP Flour, separated
1/2 tsp. salt
4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, separated
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp lukewarm water
1 oz pure lemon extract
2 loaf pans 9x5x3in

1. Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 250 degrees.

2. Toss raisins and pecans with 1 cup flour until coated well. Set aside.

3. Whisk salt into remaining 2 cups of flour.

4. Beat butter at medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy again. Add egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Add flour (with salt) and mix at a low speed until just combined.

5. Stir baking soda into lukewarm water in a small bowl until dissolved. Add this to butter mixture along with lemon extract. Stir until smooth. Stir in raisin/nut/flour mixture including any flour that remains in the bowl until raisins and nuts are incorporated and no visible traces of flour remain.

6. Beat egg whites in a clean bowl with dry, well-cleaned beaters until they just hold stiff peaks. Fold into batter until combined. Batter will be thick and lumpy.

7. Spray loaf pans with non-stick spray and divide batter evenly between them. Gently rap pans on counter to eliminate air bubbles.

8. Bake until tops of cakes are golden and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of each comes out clean, about 2 3/4 hours. Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10 minutes. Then turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely, about 3 hours.

Can be kept, wrapped in plastic wrap, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks. Or frozen 1 month. Just sit out to defrost.