Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
SERVES 12 - 14
Crunching leaves, gray skies, a shrill wind; these are signals that October is the time to make fruitcake.....please wait before you skip this recipe because this is not your typical deadly fruit cake laden with artificial flavor. This is my husband Guy's favorite, moist, almost steamed, pudding-like fruitcake, flavored with molasses and orange juice; when I first made it, there was no going back to anything else. It needs a couple of months to age properly, doused in port wine. Make it a tradition in your house, but remember to make it as soon as the leaves crunch, and the skies turn gray.
1 6 ounce can frozen orange juice, thawed
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups raisins
2 cups mixed, diced candied orange and lemon rind
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
Cheesecloth for wrapping
Preheat the oven to 275F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set aside.
Combine the orange juice, molasses, and raisins in a saucepan. Cook until the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the candied rinds and set aside off the heat.
In a bowl cream the butter, sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy.
On a piece of wax paper sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Transfer to the bowl with the butter mixture. Mix well. Stir in the orange juice and molasses mixture. Stir in the nuts.
Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake for 2 to 2 1/4 hours or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool completely. Loosen the cake from around the inside edges with a butter knife; invert the pan and remove the cake. Wrap the cake in cheesecloth.
Place it on a dish. Fill a spray bottle with 1/2 cup of Port wine. Spray the cheesecloth with the wine; be sure to spray all around the cake. Wrap the cake in aluminum foil and place it in a deep cookie tin or in a Tupperware container. Cover and keep the cake in a cool, dark place; every two weeks, open up the tin, open the foil and re-spray the cheesecloth with the Port wine. Refold the aluminum foil over the cake and replace it in its container. 6 weeks later, you will love fruitcake!
Variation; make the cake in mini-versions using muffin tins or small loaf pans; follow the same procedure for aging and storing. The baking time will vary.