I notice halvah is still sold at the deli...I picked up a small piece for old times sake, and have no idea why anyone would find it appealing. It is a sweet and greasy confection made from sesame seeds, and somewhat gritty in texture. My parents purchased it in five pound tins...which had a picture of a camel on it, as I recall. The tins were used as baking pans once the halvah was gone. Now here's the scary thing...I still have (and use) one of those old halvah tins. It doesn't exactly look 'food safe' anymore, but is a one-of-a-kind, just-the-right-size pan that I can't part with!
Rockavashakies (I have no idea if that is what they were actually called) were a wrapped hard, red candy with a picture of a fish on the wrapper. Where they came from and why they were part of our every Christmas is beyond me, but they were a tradition. I was happy to leave halvah and rockavashakies behind...and for some reason fruitcake had never been baked in my childhood kitchen.
But once I was married, I discovered that fruitcake had to be part of the food of the season...or so my husband thought. Here's the recipe I have used all these years...
2 1/2 cups whole candied cherries, red and green
3 to 4 cups golden raisins
2 cups candied pineapple (cut in large chunks)
1 cup candied orange peel or citron
2 cups flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups whole blanched almonds
2 cups pecan halves
3/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup orange juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Measure all the fruits and nuts into very large mixing bowl and set aside.
Cream butter, shortening and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients and orange juice; beat on high speed for several minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Stir batter into fruit mixture and combine well. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pans...lined with foil and sprayed with Pam.
(I used two very large, long loaf pans...but this batch would make three regular sized loaves.)
Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 hours or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool.
Now here's the part that makes this fruitcake so moist and yummy....wrap in brandy moistened cheesecloth. I wrapped the loaves in several layers of cheesecloth first and poured the brandy over. I used about 1 1/2 cups of apricot brandy for this recipe. Store the wrapped cakes in a cool place.
So if anyone wants to give home baked fruitcake a try, there's a relatively simple recipe.
I must run! I'm having a friend over for lattes, and what she doesn't know is that this barrista has never made a latte. It can't be that hard, can it?