Monday, December 3

Good Eating Monday: Banana Walnut Fruitcake!

             Welcome to the first week of December!
"Are you ready for Christmas?" seems to be the question on the tip of everyone's tongues!
Every Monday this month I'll be featuring a Christmas baking goodie--favorites I use every year!
First up, my favorite Banana Walnut Fruitcake recipe!

I think fruitcake in general has a bad rap. Unfairly so.
Historically, the most traditional form of fruitcake was a whiskey, bourbon or rum-soaked fruitcake. This is the one that has the reputation of being petrified and is the butt of fruitcake jokes.
It involves making the cake 6 weeks in advance of Christmas, usually with an Old English mix of all candied fruits types and nuts. Then wrapped in cheese-cloth, it gets a weekly dousing  with a cup of bourbon, whiskey or rum.
It packs a taste bud wallop, no doubt. Having had bites of this as kids is probably why a good many adults are turned off to fruitcake.
My recipe today doesn't feature alcohol-soaking.
Secondly, I highly recommend NOT buying the Old English Mix of candied fruit, but instead buying only the tastiest candied fruit, which, in my opinion, is the candied pineapple and red & green cherries.

For the Pina Colada variation, I use Rum Flavoring, though that isn't absolutely necessary. It's next to the almond, orange and other extracts in the spice section, if you wish to use it.
*Keep in mind, you can omit candied fruit and just use all dried fruits of your preference for the candied fruit measurements.*
Just keep the quantities the same.

Banana Walnut Fruitcake
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups candied fruit (
1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup butter or margarine (or unsweetened natural applesauce)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup mashed ripe banana

Directions:
Cut candied cherries in mostly in half, but you can leave a few whole for a pretty look inside. Save some for decorating top!  Combine candied fruit and nuts together in a bowl & set aside. In another bowl: cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda & nutmeg in a sifter and blend into creamed into creamed butter/egg mixture alternately with mash banana either with a mix or by hand. Fold candied fruit and nuts into batter and blend well. Turn into either a well-greased 2qt.tube cake pan or one 5 x 9 bread pan or three 3 x 6 foil pans. Decorate top with cherries & nuts if desired.
Bake on lowest rack at 300 for  up to 1 1/4 hours or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Smaller pans take about an hour of baking time versus a tube cake.)
 Let stand 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool. Serve plan or with a slight sifting of powdered sugar over top. 

How to Make the Pina Colada Variation:
Follow the same recipe, except:
Replace half the nuts with coconut. (3/4 cup nuts, 3/4 cup coconut.)
Still use the 2 cups of candied pineapple & cherries.
Add 1 tsp Rum Flavoring to batter.
*I actually like raisins and dates in mine, so I reduce the quantity of candied fruit to 1 1/2 cups and create a 2 cup combo of nuts, chopped dates, raisins & coconut.*
 Eat up, me hearties, yo-ho!

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