Extension Unit News
Nutrition and Consumer Education
Fruitcake for the Holidays
Fruitcakes are a holiday treat that people either love or love to hate...there doesn't seem to be any in- between. For those who enjoy this holiday tradition, there are many recipes out there if you want to make your own. Interestingly, those who make this spiced cake use the same recipe year after year–just because that cake suits their taste buds.
When researching fruitcake, it's suggested the origin is English; but there seemed to be some doubt. What sources did agree on are the characteristics. Fruitcake is traditionally a heavy spiced cake that includes lots of dried and/or candied fruits and nuts. In fact, there is not much batter in the recipe, just enough to hold the fruit and nuts together.
Often fruitcakes include some "spirits", either in soaking the fruit before baking or added to the batter. Some also wrap their fruitcakes in cheesecloth soaked with brandy and/or wine for a little more flavor. Fruitcake seems to improve with age, and this helps to bring out flavors.
Recipes for fruitcakes include light or white fruitcake, dark, golden and so on. Often the dark fruitcake has molasses added.
Baking time for fruitcakes is in a lower-than-normal temperature. Many recipes found were at 275-300 F. With this lower temperature comes a longer baking time; 2-3 hours is common. Because of the longer time, it was recommended that a shiny or glass pan be used rather than a dark pan in order to reduce chances of getting the edges too dark.
Pans are usually lined with wax or parchment paper to make removal from the pans easier. Trust me, you can't ignore this step. The only way I got one cake out was to take it out in pieces–it broke my heart!
The recipe shared is over 30 years old. At least that's how long I've had it. In taste testing a few years ago with my co-workers, most who don't like traditional fruitcake had to admit it was good. It won hands- down over another "nontraditional" cake made with apples, grapes and another no-bake fruitcake made with graham crackers, marshmallows, nuts and dried candied fruits.
Notice the cake is flavored with orange juice rather than brandy or a wine. It is best to store it like most fruitcakes–in a cool place, like the refrigerator. Be sure it is well wrapped with plastic wrap, then placed in an airtight container.
Orange Slice "Fruit" Cake
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour 2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt 4 eggs
1 lb. cut-up orange slices 1teaspoon soda
8 ounces chopped dates 1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts 1 cup orange juice
1 ¼ cups flaked coconut 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
Sift together flour and salt. Set aside. Combine orange slices, dates, nuts and coconut in large bowl. Add ½ cup of flour/salt mixture to dried fruit mixture. Stir well to coat with flour. In a large bowl, mix butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar while beating, to cream well. Add 4 eggs–one at a time. Beat well after each egg. Combine soda with buttermilk. To egg mixture, add buttermilk/soda alternately with flour/salt mixture. Blend well. Lastly, add fruit/nut mixture to batter and stir well. Pour into large tube pan that has been greased and floured. Bake at 300 F for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Combine orange juice and sifted powdered sugar, mix well and pour over hot cake. Allow to cool. Cover and let stand in refrigerator overnight before removing from pan. You may make 5 smaller loaves if desired. Reduce cooking time to 1-1 ¼ hours; test to be sure is done. Makes 1 large or 5 small loaves to yield 50 servings.
Nutrient Analysis Per Serving: 207 calories, 2 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 8 grams fat, 22 milligrams cholesterol, 98 milligrams sodium. Exchanges: 2 starch/carbohydrates, 1 ½ fat.
Advanced Bread Making Workshop
This workshop is for anyone who already has the basic bread making skills. We will discuss flours, steps in bread making and the shaping of breads, etc. As always there will be plenty of taste samples and recipes and written materials to take home. To register call 782-4617.
When: January 30, 2008
Time: 5:30-7:30 pm
Where: U of I Extension building on the fairgrounds
Cooking Turkey in an Electric Roaster
The electric roaster oven serves as an extra oven to cook the turkey or roast. According to Jananne Finck, University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator, Springfield Center, the cooking time and oven temperature setting are usually the same as conventional cooking. Always check the roaster's use and care manual for manufacturer's recommended temperature setting and temperature.
Before cooking, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends preheating the electric roaster oven to at least 325 degrees F. Place the turkey on the roaster oven's rack or other meat rack so the juices will collect in the bottom of the oven liner. Leave the lid on throughout cooking, removing it as little as possible to avoid slowing the cooking process.
Cooking bags can be used in the roaster oven as long as the bag doesn't touch the sides, bottom or lid. Follow directions given by the cooking bag manufacturer, and use a meat thermometer to be sure the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast reaches the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 F.
DO NOT use brown paper bags for cooking, cautions USDA. They are not sanitary, may cause a fire and may emit toxic fumes. Intense heat may cause a bag to ignite, causing a fire in the oven. Plus–the ink, glue and recycled materials in paper bags can give-off toxic fumes when they are exposed to heat. Instead, use commercial oven cooking bags found in your local grocery store.
For more information on cooking turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 (1-888-MPHotline), Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Time. USDA information is also available at: www.fsis.usda.gov.
University of Illinois Extension features turkey information in English and Spanish, including recipes at: www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/turkey.