04 December 2009

Martha Stewart's Christmas

Being famous is creepy.

You tell a story to a camera who relays it to millions of people. Those people then know a story about your life. Come to think of it, it is even kind of weird blogging. I realized as I wrote this that there are people who read my blog who know more about me than some of my friends (unless, of course, they read my blog.) Anyway, here is my point. If you packed a 12-pound fruitcake into a giant metal tin and threatened to beat me with it unless I told you the names of my childhood neighbors, I would end up dead. Granted, I did move a lot as a child, but I digress...

I love Martha Stewart, but not in the wait in line 5 hours to have a book signed way. I have never met her. Still, I know the name of her neighbors in Nutley, New Jersey. Neighbors who died before I was even born! Mr. and Mrs. Maus were German immigrants who had, at one time in their loves, been bakers. They had a large kitchen in their basement just for baking and Little Martha loved to go over and help them bake. (I have no doubt she was a big a pain-in-the-ass then as she is now!) Years later, Martha inherited a large yellowware mixing bowl that she treasures. In fact, she has stated that if anything ever happened to the bowl she would just stop baking. (Note to ANYONE: Do not touch the bowl. If she asks you to wash it, or move it, or stir in it, feign a heart attack.)

So now, I know more about Martha Stewart's childhood neighbors than I do about mine. In addition to the bowl, Martha got a really fine fruitcake recipe. She has used it in several of her cookbooks and gives full credit to Mrs. Maus as the creator. You can make two cakes out of the recipe or about six small cakes.

Mrs. Maus' Fruitcake

1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
12 eggs
6 pounds candied fruits and fresh nuts (choose from the following: citron,
lemon peel, orange peel, cherries, apricots, walnuts, pecans)
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons allspice

For The Glaze

1 cup apricot jam
1/3 cup brandy

For The Garnish

Whole dried apricots
Pecan halves

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Butter two 9-inch cake pans or 2 loaf pans. Line with waxed paper, butter again, and flour.

2. Cream butter and sugar until creamy and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating batter until
fluffy. Stir in the fruits, nuts, and molasses, blending well. Sift the flour with the allspice and stir into the batter cup by cup until well mixed. Spoon into the prepared cake pans. Set pans in a shallow pan with 1 1/2 to 2 inches hot water. Bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until done. Test with toothpick. Cool in pans on a cake rack.

3. Remove from pans, pull off waxed paper, and glaze with strained apricot jam heated with brandy. Decorate with dried apricots and nut halves and glaze again. Let glaze harden before wrapping in cellophane. Keep in cool place. To serve, slice very thinly.

Hey, if it is good enough for Martha and Mrs. Maus, you should give it a try.

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