Thursday, December 18, 2014

German Almond Fruitcake



Over the years, Christmas fruitcakes have been revered and reviled. However, this mandel früchtekuchen, or Almond Fruitcake, version lives up to classic German baking standards and tastes just like Christmas.


The final result takes a bit of waiting time. The cake contains heavy cream which must be infused overnight with a mixture of spices. 


Consequently, this is not a recipe you can whip together on a whim. Once that is done, the cake comes together rather quickly the next day.


This cake has lots of other goodies in it, chopped dried apricots, red and green candied cherries, red currants and lots and lots of almonds.


The almonds are both in the batter and studded over the top of the cake. 


That, and an additional boost of almond flavor from adding a teaspoon of pure almond extract, makes this a standout choice for a holiday fruitcake.


TIP #1: This recipe makes a lot of cake. If you do not have a Savarin ring mold, use either a large bundt form, angel food cake pan or whatever the largest size pan you have. Grease and flour an extra loaf pan. Add the extra batter to the loaf pan and bake separately at the same temperature for about 30 minutes. You can freeze the extra fruitcake or give it away as a gift to your guests. 


TIP #2: I left the fruitcake plain because the cake is packed with so many wonderful flavors, I didn't want the icing to distract from the main attraction. If you do want to ice the cake, even for presentation reasons only, I would recommend adding a simple, thin glaze whisking together powdered sugar and milk. If you want to further accentuate the almond flavor of the cake, add a 1/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract to the glaze. 


German Almond Fruitcake
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Marinate Time: 24 hours 
Bake Time: 50 minutes 
Yield: 24 pieces
Ingredients:
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 2 tablespoons of amaretto or almond liqueur of your choice 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 2 sticks plus two tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1+1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar or one and a half teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 5 medium sized eggs
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1/3 cup soft dried apricots cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup dried red currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup candied red cherries
  • 1/3 cup candied green cherries
  • 2 cups raw blanched whole almonds* 

*To blanch raw almonds, boil them in water for one minute, rinse immediately in a colander with cold water and squeeze the skins off with your fingers. They will slip off easily.

Directions:
  • In a small saucepan over a low flame, heat the heavy cream, whole cloves, star anise and cinnamon stick together until the cream just comes to a boil. 
  • Remove from heat, cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the top of the liquid. This will prevent a crust from forming on top. Set aside. 
  • Let the spiced cream mixture stand overnight. You want the spices to fully infuse their flavor into the cream. 
  • The next day, strain the heavy cream to remove the spices and stir in the 2 tablespoons of Amaretto or almond liqueur. Set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour an extra large Savarin ring mold. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ground cardamom, ground cinnamon and the cup of chopped raw almonds. Set aside. 
  • In a stand mixer or use a hand mixer to cream together the butter with the brown sugar and vanilla sugar or teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and the pure almond extract. 
  • Add the eggs one after the other, making sure each one is fully incorporated into the batter before you add the next. 
  • Mix in the fresh orange zest.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour, spice and almond mixture to the batter and mix in thoroughly. 
  • Mix in the apricot pieces, dried red currants or raisins and candied red and green cherries. 
  • Add the rest of the flour, spice and almond mixture in three portions alternatively with the spiced cream, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. 
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the greased and floured baking pan. Arrange the blanched almonds on top of the batter in any design you like. 
  • Bake for 45 -50 minutes until the fruitcake becomes golden brown on top or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  • Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Preferably outside or somewhere cool. 
  • Separate the Almond Fruitcake from the pan and transfer to a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely. 
  • Transfer to a serving platter, slice and serve. 

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love fruit cakes and had a rich fruity one in Australia recently. But your recipe really takes the (fruit) cake, it not only looks amazing, but cream infused with a mixture of spices must give it such an awesome flavor (quite different from the brandy-infused Aussie ones). Delicious eating for the holidays - thanks for sharing!!

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