Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Spiced Fruit Bread

Well, it’s actually fruitcake, but that word has some bad connotations, thanks to the radioactive studded substance we find at the grocery store this time of year. For the past 6 or so years, I’ve been baking fruitcake annually around Thanksgiving. Around Thanksgiving because it takes several weeks for the cake to mellow and age (with many spritzes of brandy) before it is ready to be eaten. This way it is ready just on time for Christmas gifting or parties.

This is basically Alton Brown’s recipe from I’m Just Here For More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking, which is subtly different from the Good Eats recipe from the episode “It’s a Wonderful Cake” (although I do recommend watching that episode, you can find it pretty easily on Youtube).

(Makes one 9″x5″ or two 6″x3¾” loaf pans)

Note: The original recipe calls for the single larger loaf. But I had come across a pair of smaller loaf pans, and it turns out the smaller size is perfect for gifting, and doubles your unit yield. Instead of doubling the recipe, prepare multiple batches of the dried fruit mix, as it is hard to split into proper portions.

¾ C Golden raisins
¾ C Dried cranberries
¾ C Dried blueberries
¾ C Dried cherries
½ C Dried apricots, chopped
¼ C Candied ginger, chopped
1 Lemon’s zest
1 Orange’s zest
5 whole cloves, ground
3 allspice berries, ground
1 C Dark rum
¾ C Unfiltered apple juice
½ C Hard apple cider
1 stick Butter
1 C Sugar
2 Large eggs, lightly beaten
5 oz All-purpose flour (1 cup)
5 oz Whole-wheat flour (1 cup)
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1½ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp Black pepper
½ cup Pecans chopped and toasted
  Brandy, for spritzing
  1. Mix together dried fruits, ginger, zests, cloves, allspice and rum – you can do this in the pot you will be using the next day (see step 2). Soak overnight.
  2. The next day, stir in the apple juice, cider, butter and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring every few minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and cool ½ hour until it is room temperature. Stir in the eggs.
  4. Put oven rack to lower middle position and preheat to 325°F. Either butter and flour your loaf pan(s) or spray with “Pam for Baking”.
  5. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the pecans.
  6. Pour the spiced fruit mixture into the bowl and fold in until it is just combined. Do not overmix.
  7. Put the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by poking a skewer into the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean, it is done baking, otherwise let it go a few minutes more before testing again.
  8. Set pan(s) on cooling rack and spritz top with brandy. Cool completely before turning out onto wrack and spritzing with more brandy.
  9. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then foil.
  10. To age, unwrap and spritz with brandy and re-wrap every 2 or 3 days for 2 weeks, and then once a week for the next two weeks. After one month of aging and spritzing the cake is ready to be eaten.

Serving suggestion: toast lightly and spread with marscapone cheese.

posted by neil at 8:18 pm
under Uncategorized  

Friday, November 6, 2009

Another Product Review – Colgate MaxFresh Toothbrush

Contrary to what you might think after the last post, this is not a product review blog (well it’s not much of anything, as I am super lazy). However, I wanted to talk about this toothbrush I bought yesterday – the Colgate Max Fresh.

I was spending the night in Sunnyvale, since I had to take my friend Erin to get some surgery done at 6:30 AM this morning, and driving down to Sunnyvale, then up to Palo Alto from San Francisco would have mean leaving home at 5AM. However, I left my tooth brush sitting on my couch at home, so I bought a new one.

I can’t find a good picture of it online and don’t have a good camera ready and available to take a picture, so I’ll just point you to the official site. This is one of the fancy modern toothbrushes, with a rubber contoured handle and bristles that point off at various acute angles. The site lists some fantastic additional features, including a minty fresh handle to invigorate your brushing experience. I am not sure how much this adds to the experience when you already are most likely using mint scented dentifrice, but at least it has some humor value when you hear about it.

The other feature, the tongue freshener, is what I really want to talk about. I guess it’s a not uncommon feature to have these days – a bit of rubber on the back of the head which supposedly cleans off the tongue, but there is more than just a bit on this toothbrush. The rubber ‘stubble’ is also on the sides of the head, so when you brush you are constantly rubbing it against your cheeks. This is not what I call an enjoyable experience, and even a minty fresh handle can’t change it.

To sum it up, as far as fancy new toothbrushes go, the Max Fresh is a dud. I much prefer my current Oral B CrossAction Pro-Health Toothbrush.

posted by neil at 9:04 am
under rambling,technology  

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