A Classic Christmas Fruitcake-Banh Giang Sinh voi Mut Trai Cay va Dau kieu Chau Au

Vietnamese food

Fruitcake, an European holiday classic definitely is not a Vietnamese cake. There are two main versions dark and light, light and heavy.  I was lucky  having the best  fruit cake by a nice couple who were the sponsors of my family.  She gave me her recipe and named it after her “Hope’s Fruit cake.”  However my kids’ still too young for me to bake with liquor and the non alcohol version was not as good as hers.  After a few time packing and moving, the recipe was misplaced. I think I like less dense and more cake like but never try this recipe before so please bear with me to see how it turns out for the final verdict.   It will be expensive if Grand Marnier is used-about $25 for a 375 ml bottle and Meyer dark Rum  is not too cheap either.  At the liquor store, they have smaller sizes.

Let learn to make Mitchell Gerhard’s fruitcake.  Keengan Gerhard, one of the top pastry chefs is sharing his mother’s recipe on CBS’s Chicago. I just replaced some candied fruit with dried fruit and use 1/2 tsp of nutmeg instead of whole teaspoon.  Fruit juice like grape, orange, apple juice can be replaced liquor.  I wanted to use the round pan but miscalculated and used 9 in round springform pan.  So the cake was so tall and took 3 hours and 45 minutes to cook through so I thinks 10x 3-in round pan will be good enough but don’t take my words for it !

The Fruitcake
1 cup red candied cherries-they are sold by 8 oz containers
1 cup green candied cherries
1 cup candied pineapple- 6 oz bag
1 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dark raisins
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried currants
4 cups Pecan halves
4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 lb butter
1 1/2 cups sugar (granulated white)
6 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup Grand Marnier
1/2 cup dark rum and extra for soaking

At least 3 weeks and 1 day before serving
 Save 10 green,10 red cherries and a few pieces of pineapple for decoration if you do not ice the cake.  Cut each remaining cherry in haft. Divide candied and dried fruits in 4 separated containers- one for red, one for green, one for light  fruit, one for dark fruit. I divided pineapple into 3 parts and added  to red, green and light containers. Then add an equal portion of Grand Marnier to each container.  Stir well, cover and soak overnight or a couple days at room temperature or in the fridge to macerate.  Stir occasionally.
The next day-Baking 
1.  Preheat oven to 300 oF  before baking with the oven rack at lower third of the oven. Line one 10×3-in round pan  with parchment paper both bottom and sides.  Tie a double band of brown or newspaper around the pan. The cake can be baked in  varieties of pan type and size for gifts.
2.  Spread the nuts evenly on a large sheet pan and bake about 7 minutes to enhance the flavor.  Stir one or twice to ensure even toasting and prevent over browning.  Cool completely.  Mix all the fruit and nut together.
4.  Stir 1 cup of flour into the fruit and nut mixture until they are evenly coated.
5.  In a large bowl, whisk flour with baking powder, salt, and spices together
6.  In a large mixing bowl with paddle attached, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well about 15 seconds after each addition.  Turn the speed to low, add the flour mixture to the batter alternate with 1/2 cup rum (use the one saving first) until just combined.  Fold  the fruit and nut mixture into the batter with a sturdy spatula or spoon.
7.  Spoon the batter, very stiff  into the prepared pans.  The batter should go up 3/4 full of the pan. Pack the batter down evenly to eliminate air pockets.  Once filled, smooth the surface with the back of a spoon and make a slight dip in the center ( this area will rinse back during baking and make a flat surface) .  Put the cake on a double layers of brown  or newspaper in a baking tray on the rack.   Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours depending on baking pan sizes.  The cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the center and barely begin to shrink from the sides of the pan. Start checking at 2 hours, and every 25-30 minutes after until the tester come out clean or with a few crumbs but not wet or an instant thermometer will register about 190 oF in the center of the cake.
8.  Transfer the cake, still in the pan to a cooking rack.  Sprinkle the top of hot cake with 1/4 cup dark rum. Fold the paper collar evenly down on top of the cake, use extra wax or parchment paper to cover the surface completely.  Wrap the foil snugly around the pan to hold in the steam help the top cake soft,  Cool cake in pan on a wire rack completely.  Remove the cake from the pan still in parchment paper. It is better stored in an airtight container (reseal plastic food graded container can be use) or a freeze plastic bag , and keep at a cold, dark place or refrigerate (non alcohol version) at least 3 weeks before serving to help the flavor developing.  Continue to moisten with 1 tablespoons  of dark rum weekly  if desired.

The final product, if you like fruitcake try this recipe you won’t regret.  It is moist and the flavor bursts into your mouth.  A separate knife need to cut the cake in back and forth motion to cut through the nuts to keep the cake slides intact.  The poinsettia is chocolate clay edible and delicious.
To ice the cake
7 oz marzipan fondant
1/2 cup apricot jam or orange marmalade, melted, sieved
Powder sugar
Marshmallow Fondant
1. Up to 1 day before serving.  Knead the marzipan lightly until smooth, then roll it out on a surface lightly dusted with powder sugar about 1/2 in larger than the diameter of the cake.
2.  Brush the cake top and sides with jam.  Place marzipan on the top.  Press it down gently and use a knife cut any excess marzipan, then press lightly to the side so it is level with the sides.
3.  Roll the fondant to a thin  (1/8 in/5 mm) circle slightly larger (1 in/ 2 cm) than the diameter of the cake plus two sides. Place the fondant on the top of the marzipan, gently buffing with your hands to smooth it and make it adhere to the side of the cake.  Cut the excess fondant around the base of the cake.  Reroll excess fondant and cut it with cookie cutter for decoration.
4. Apply any decoration of your choice.

Marshmallow Fondant
16 oz white mini marshmallows
2-5 Tbs water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract or almond extract
2 lb powder sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
Melt marshmallow in a large non stick pan over low heat with 2 Tbs water.  When it is melted, stir in extract , then add 3/4 sugar, stir to combine.  Generously grease the working surface and your hands with shortening.  Pour the rest of powder sugar into the middle of greased surface.  Dump the sugar and marshmallow mixture on it and start to knead until you have a smooth nonstick  elastic ball like Play-Doh texture so it can be stretch without tearing when apply to the cake about 8-10 minutes. Regrease hand and counter if the fondant starts sticking again.  If it is tearing easily add more water 1 Tbs at a time. Grease the ball with shortening and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The fondant will hold very well a few weeks in the fridge.
Marzipan Fondant 
1.  Marzipan fondant from almond paste
   1 (8 oz) can  almond (marzipan) paste
   2 cups confectioners’sugar
   3 Tbs light corn syrup
Break up the marzipan paste into small pieces in a large bowl, add 1 and 3/4 cups sugar, and 3 Tbs corn syrup.  Knead them until smooth and you can form it into a ball without cracking.  If it is too sticky add a little more sugar, if too dry add a little more corn syrup.  Color it with food color. It yield more than we need for this recipe but you can wrap it tightly and put it into a container.  You can roll, cut, shape, dip into chocolate, and eat them like candies.
2. Almond Paste from scratch
   1 1/2 cup slivered blached almonds
   1 1/2 cup powder sugar
   1 1/2 tsp almond extract
   5 Tbs light corn syrup
In a food processor, grind almonds into very small pieces but not powder about 20 seconds.  Add corn syrup, almond extract and sugar, process until a stiff dough formed.  The longer processing will make the paste finer. Pack it in an air tight container and refrigerate until use.   

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