Sunday, November 22, 2009

A little piece of home...

I'm feeling really achy today.  I think my weight and my laziness are starting to get the better of me.  If I sit too long, I ache.  So, rather than sitting around today and just watching the game, I decided to bake!  I cleaned up my kitchen, which took all weekend since I took things out of the cabinets and washed them, and now that it's clean, I find that I want to use it!  Funny how that works.

I'm going to share the recipe and pictures of what I baked, but I'm afraid it's not something you'll likely be able to make.  I'm sorry for that, but one of the major components isn't something you can buy.  Alright, with that warning, and without further adieu...

Brandied Fruit Bread

1 c. Raisins
1 c. Sugar
1 c. Water
1/2 c. Margarine

3 3/4 c. Flour
2 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
3/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt

2 1/2 c. Brandied Fruit
1 c. Nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, combine raisins, sugar, water, and margarine (1/2 c. = one stick).  Bring to a boil over medium heat, making sure to stir so it doesn't scorch.  Boil 1 minute. Remove the raisin mixture off the burner and cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt.  Combine until the mixture is a light tan color.  Add cooled raisin mixture, brandied fruit, and nuts (if desired) to the flour mixture.  Mix until the the mixture looks wet.

Grease two bread pans and fill with bread batter.  It only makes two loaves, so be sure to split the batter evenly.  I only have one pan, so the first loaf came out larger than the second.  I baked them for 45 minutes and then checked them in 10 minute intervals thereafter until a tooth pick inserted in the center came out clean.

Cool on a wire rack until the pan cools down then remove the bread from the pan and finish cooling on the rack.  This bread freezes very well and so is great to make ahead of time.

I'll probably freeze a loaf and a half of it and bring it out next week on Thanksgiving.  I don't know, it'll depend whether I can keep Matt off of it. ;)  I took a lot more pictures of it, I even edited more than what you see, but if I'd included them this entry would have gone on, and on, and on.  So, I tried to keep it to a minimum.  There was one more I wanted to share with you...

The picture above is the brandied fruit component of the bread.  My dad's been making Brandied Fruit Bread for holidays for as long as I can remember.  Jars exactly like the one above (since I actually got that jar from my folks) sat on our counters and my dad would refill them when they were low, but when the holidays came, daddy would break out the recipe and make this amazing holiday bread.  After winning that jar of brandied fruit from my dad on a bet (ha, finally won one!), I got the recipe and started making it.  Being so far away from home, having this makes me feel closer to my family during the holidays when we're so far apart.

I have two jars, both of which are half -or less- full, so it's time for me to refill them.  The refill on this is actually just 1 c. sugar and 1 can of fruit cocktail (I use Very Cherry fruit cocktail).  Once the jars are refilled, it takes two weeks (at least) before it can be used again.  The fruit ferments in the jar and turns into a really potent alcoholic mixture (hence the "brandied") but the alcohol bakes out leaving just the amazing taste.  My dad eats it straight, on vanilla ice cream, but I'm not that brave.  Just one more thing.  I wouldn't attempt starting it at home, there's aparently a "starter" with some additional ingredients.  I don't know what they are or I'd be happy to share it.  My dad actually doesn't know what they are either, since he got his starter years ago from a family friend.

I hope your coming holidays are amazing! :D