Skyline #3 – 3 / Christmas Fruit Cake

Skyline #3

This morning I managed to complete 24 more blocks (14 left to get me to 63 which I’ll get done tomorrow).

49 Blocks – 7 x 7

I’m not going for a traditional drunkard’s path layout – I want a relatively random layout with probably 5 complete circles (at the moment I have three) and the rest partial circles which creates the illusion of layers of circles. The colour flow is working out but I won’t be satisfied until I have all 63 blocks on the floor and I can photograph them and move them around.

If I stay with a 7 x 9 array (63 blocks) I will end up with a 40 1/4″ x 51 3/4″ panel. Since I want the final project to be close to the size of the other two quilts – 48″ x 64″ I can either do a narrow 1″ sashing with the dark blue grunge I used on the wedges and a 3″ border strip from the Skyline fabric. That gives me the width (40 1/4 + 2 + 6 = 48 1/4″) but short on length (51 3/4 + 2 + 6 = 59 3/4″). If I were to add a 10 row to the bottom, I’d end up at 57 1/2 + 2 + 6 = 65 1/2″.

Or another way to solve the size problem is to add two more rows and a column to make an 8 x 11 array (46″ x 63 1/4″), a wee bit shy on width and length but close enough to the other two that I could live with that. In this case I’d need 25 more blocks. I have the fabric to do that – I bought the end of the bolt, another 1 1/2m of the fabric, so I have more than enough to create the needed blocks.

What I’m liking about this latter idea is that it mirrors the more modern finish I’ve used on the other two quilts. To finish the panel with sashing and a border will make it look more like a conventional quilt even with a hidden binding.

So after I’ve laid out the 63 blocks and stitched them together I’ll audition the sashing/binding idea but I’ll probably take time to construct another 25 blocks….

Christmas Fruit Cake

Christmas Fruit Cake 2020

Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend. I always make fruitcake just after Thanksgiving so two weeks ago I bought the candied fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, put it in my 27c Tupperware bowl with lid then added a pint of dark Barbados rum and left the mixture to soak for a week.

Today was the day. I’ve ended up with 10 2lb loaves (plus a single small cake) which will get wrapped in waxed paper, stored in a ziplock bag, and kept on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator for the next two months.

Right now, the cake is kind of “cake-y” but in two months time it will be dense and moist from the rum working it’s way from the saturated fruit into the cake. Just in time to give it away for the holiday.

That’s my single big Christmas preparation – all done.

This is my Fruit Cake recipe in case you want to give it a try. A very forgiving cake.

Christmas Cake 2015

IMG_5756 I’ve shared my Dark Fruit Cake recipe before — usually I make them around Canadian Thanksgiving which is in 10 days or so, but this year I started earlier because I’m travelling to Peru at the end of the month and November is too late for the cakes to age enough. So I started last week by adding 10 oz of dark rum to a large Tupperware bowl with a sealing lid, 2/3 full of candied fruit — by yesterday the fruit had soaked up all the rum and smelled wonderful. This afternoon I made the cakes. I’ve ended up with 5 half pound loaves, 7 one pound loaves, and 3 two pound loaves (and then I still have one two pound loaf in the fridge from 2014) — that’s more than enough for gifts this season! I have to admit I cut a very thin slice from one of the mid-sized cakes to make sure it passed quality control – lovely (even if I say so myself). They’re all now wrapped in wax paper, stored in the fridge in ziplock bags for when I will want to wrap them for Christmas giving.

Here’s the recipe [it’s a forgiving recipe – the amounts of fruit are approximate – I don’t measure, just guess]:

  • 2 lbs. mixed candied fruit (a mixture of regular and deluxe which includes pineapple and cherries)
  • 1 lb. red/green candied cherries
  • 1 lb. Thompson raisins
  • add whatever other candied fruit you like
  • 8 oz. dark rum
  • 1/2 lb. butter
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 c packed brown sugar (this year I used coconut palm sugar – seems to have come out all right)
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/4 c. molasses
  • [a small jar of grape jelly, strawberry or apricot jam, or marmalade – these days I use marmalade; in fact this year I added the marmalade to the fruit when I soaked it and not in the wet ingredients]
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg (fresh if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  1. Soak candied fruit and raisins in rum for 3-4 days before making the cakes. Add rum to the fruit, cover bowl with plastic wrap and stir occasionally to make sure rum is absorbed by the fruit (Add the marmalade at this stage).
  2. Preheat oven — 275° F
  3. Prepare loaf pans (4-5 two pound pans) by wiping with butter and sprinkling with flour. [I often use aluminum loaf pans and discard them afterwards or I line conventional loaf pans with parchment — that works very well]
  4. Transfer fruit to a very large mixing container [I use my lobster pot to mix these cakes because I double the recipe and with all the fruit and batter, it’s a large amount of stuff!]
  5. In a second large mixing bowl, cream butter until soft. Add almond extract and vanilla and incorporate.
  6. Add sugar and cream until well blended. Add eggs one at a time beating well until incorporated into mixture.
  7. Add molasses.
  8. Melt chocolate [I use my microwave oven for this] and add.
  9. [Add jam or jelly or marmalade if you’re using it and haven’t added it to the candied fruit to soak]
  10. In a separate large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices.
  11. Add about half of this mixture to the candied fruit and mix well.
  12. Add remaining flower mixture to fruit and mix.
  13. Add butter and egg mixture to fruit and mix well.
  14. Fill loaf pans about 3/4 full. [The cakes rise and will spill over into the oven if the pans are too full; I put the loaf pans on a cookie sheet to catch any spill over — I’ve had to clean the oven more than once so I don’t take chances any more]
  15. Place pans in middle of oven.
  16. Bake slowly. Test with a skewer. Cakes are done when the skewer comes out clean. [Takes anywhere from about 1 1/2 to 3 hours]
  17. Remove cakes from oven. Place on a rack to cool.
  18. Once they’re completely cool, remove the cakes from the pans [peel away parchment if you’ve used it].
  19. Wrap each cake in waxed paper. Put each into a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least a month before using.

Depending on the amount of fruit you use, this recipe makes between 4 – 6 two pound cakes. [Since I double the recipe, I generally get 6 2-lb cakes and 10 small (~1/2-lb) cakes]

If you enjoy a tasty dark fruit cake, do try this one.