Mom likes fruitcake, and I recall vaguely a time when I thought I did, too. In general, my tastes are expanding, not narrowing, and I'm learning to appreciate various things Mom has always liked that I haven't (avocado, squash [in limited contexts], mushrooms [in even more limited contexts]). So I keep trying fruitcake at Christmas, thinking that either 'Hey! I like this stuff, don't I?' Or: 'I'll like it now! I'm an adult!'
And it just keeps getting weirder.
This is not a recipe for fruitcake. It's a recipe Mom made this Christmas that I think makes fruitcake completely obsolete. It's a lightly sweet yeast bread with delicious sparkling chunks of apricot and ginger. Mom brought this out mid-way through the break, but I think it would make a nice Three Kings treat, because the apricots and ginger are both sort of exotic and remind me of nuggets of gold, frankincense, myrrh. ...Especially as Mom used half dried pineapple instead of all apricot, making it three components.
The recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour catalog, and this is their photograph, too.
1 c. all purpose flour
pinch of yeast
1/2 c. cool water
Combine the starter ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cover and allow the mixture to rest overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature.
all of the starter
2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. potato flour
1/4 c. water
2 large eggs
6 T. butter
1 1/4 t. salt
2 t. yeast
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. lemon extract
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. chopped dried apricots (Mom used 1/2 c. apricots and 1/2 c. diced dehydrated pineapple)
1/3 c. diced crystallized ginger
Combine the starter with the remainder of the dough ingredients (except the fruit). Mix and knead them together until you have a soft, sticky dough. Knead in the ginger and apricots. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it is puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a ball. Place it in a panettone pan (6" diameter x 4 1/2" tall). Cover the pan and let the dough rise until it's just crested over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour.Bake the bread in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 15 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 35 minutes, tenting the top with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.Yield: I loaf, about 16 servings.