A lower-than-most-in-saturated-fats, allegedly-Irish Fruitcake

This has nothing to do with writing, nor with the books in the Blackdog world. If you’ve come across it while looking for slightly-healthier cake recipes, I hope you enjoy it. If you’re also a reader of fantasy, you might want to look around the site a bit more while the cake bakes …

Why this fruitcake is Irish I do not know. There’s no whiskey in it, not matter how many letters you use to spell whiskey. No potatoes. No Guinness. Nonetheless, that is its name in my mother’s handwritten cookbook, and since it’s in that cookbook, she probably got it from her mother, who could at least claim an Irish great-grandfather — but I doubt the recipe is that old.

The reason it is lower in saturated fat than many fruitcakes is that I’ve had to adapt my baking to be so. This one is not so low in fat and/or cholesterol as my usual cakes, since fruitcake does need some structural integrity and that means a few eggs, though not as many as the original recipe. (Yes, I know there are saturated fats in olive oil … but it’s better than butter.)

I change this recipe every time I make it. (The fate of most cake recipes in my kitchen.) This year it turned out the best fruitcake I’ve ever had, so here is this year’s version, as best I can remember. It’s an odd fruitcake — no spices at all in the original, and this year I added none, only a little lemon extract because I had a nearly-empty bottle. I think in the past I have used mace alone as a spice in it, which is also good.

Herewith the recipe: Irish Fruitcake, highly modified into pretty much an entirely new recipe …

Preheat oven to 300 F. Grease and flour two large loaf pans (or one largish tube pan).

3 1/2 cups of dried and/or candied fruit
(This year’s choices: chopped dried apricots, raisins, currants, candied peel, dried cranberries, halved maraschino cherries. Broken hazelnuts or slivered almonds would taste good in this as well.)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. olive oil
3/4 c. canola oil (all canola will work too but it won’t be quite so rich-tasting)
1 1/2 c. white sugar
*7 eggs — or 4 eggs and 3 tbsp. ground flax seed made into egg substitute, see below.
Optional: 1 or 2 tsp. lemon extract (I just dumped in what was left in the bottle …. Almond would be nice. The original recipe doesn’t even call for vanilla, so you can leave it out.)
4 c. pastry flour
scant 1/2 tsp. salt

Toss the fruit with the 1/4 c. all-purpose flour in a bowl.

* Make flax seed egg-substitute for 3 eggs (or however many you decide to replace), because you want it to sit and become good and gloopy. For each egg you’re replacing, grind finely 1 tbsp. flax seed and whisk it in a cup with 3 tbsp. water. Let sit to thicken. A coffee grinder works well to grind flax. If you’re making something like muffins, you don’t even have to wipe out the coffee first. (Usually when I’m making a cake or muffins, I substitute all the eggs, but that does make cake a bit more fragile — also more moist, which I like. I figured a fruit cake needed more structural integrity, though. If you decide to substitute flax for all seven eggs, I would suggest letting the cake cool in the pan for longer than usual before trying to turn it out.)

In a larger bowl, beat the oils and sugar together, adding extract if using. Add the eggs one at a time along with a heaping tbsp. of the pastry flour for each, beating well after each addition. (If using the flax, just add it in egg-sized dollops, adding a spoonful of flour each time as with real eggs.)

Sift remaining flour and salt into the egg-sugar-oil mixture and beat. Add the fruits and nuts and mix thoroughly.

Yes, there is no leavening in this cake beyond whatever eggs you are using.

Pour into pans.

Cover pans with foil.

Bake one hour at 300 F. Then reduce heat to 275. Remove foil lids, bake another hour. Check. Bake another hour. Check. Bake half an hour. Check for doneness. It should be light golden on top and a wooden skewer or whatever you use should come out clean when plunged into the middle of the cake.

So, that’s one hour at 300, followed by two and a half at 275. This will vary depending on your oven, your pans, the alignment of the planets, etc. etc. etc. The tube pan will probably take longer. If the tops seem to be getting too dark, put the foil lids back on. (The original recipe calls for 1 hour at 300 and then 4 at 250!)

Let the finished cakes rest a little in their pans before turning them out to finish cooling. Wrap tightly in foil and keep in a cool place — or eat right away.

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New Book, Autumn 2016! Gods of Nabban

I can finally announce this! Gods of Nabban will be coming out from Pyr SF in the autumn of 2016. Gods of Nabban is the fourth novel (and fifth story) set in the world of Blackdog and the Marakand duology of The Leopard and The Lady. It begins not very long after the events at the end of The Lady, and follows Ahjvar and Ghu, soul-wounded assassin and fugitive slave, as Ghu returns to Nabban, the homeland he fled as a boy. Although much in the characters is shaped by what happened to them in Marakand, the story itself moves to the empire of Nabban at the end of the caravan road, and is driven by powers and politics, divine and human, there. Ivah — wizard, scribe, scholar, and now a caravan-mercenary, is in it, and the devil Yeh-Lin, who was, long before, the empress and tyrant of Nabban (and had more recently found gainful employment as a history tutor …)

And Moth gets a look-in too.

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Kew: Third and Final Gallery

Here is another installment in my series of photos from Kew, taken on a day I went up the river from LonCon3 to immerse myself in botany.

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Kew Royal Botanic Gardens: 2nd Gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Continuing my day at Kew back in August 2014, truant from WorldCon, here is a second batch of photos, selected from the 400 or so I took.

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Kew Royal Botanic Gardens – 1st Gallery: Palm House, Waterlilies, Mediterranean Garden

This gallery contains 13 photos.

Kew was one of the highlights of my trip to London last year. I only had one day. It needed three. I took over 400 photos. Some were photos taken for beauty; some for research. Natural history is a great … Continue reading

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