Written by Grace Lommel : DEXTER – Delicious fruitcakes competed for cash prizes at the 4th annual Fruitcake Fanciers Bake-Off at the Abbot Memorial Library in Dexter on Saturday, Dec.10.
Mary Morancie of Dexter entered two fruitcakes this year: a rum-soaked and a dark brandied fruitcake which won first place ($25). This was Morancie's second time entering the Bake-Off, winning third place last year. "I never liked them before. But over the last couple years I've acquired a taste for fruitcakes," admitted Morancie.
That's why Head Librarian Liz Breault, an avowed fruitcake fancier, holds this annual Bake-Off. "Supermarket fruitcakes are horrible," said Breault. "People don't realize how many different types of fruitcakes there are. Just look at that table." The cakes ranged from dark, dense loaves to a blond, cake-like bundt.
Two contestants entered an "Ever So Easy Fruitcake," but for Joan Reed of Dexter it was a winner, earning her second place ($15). This was Reed's second time entering the contest. For Barbara Maslowski of Corinna, first time entrant, the "Easy" was a 20 year-old recipe with fruit mincemeat, sweetened condensed milk and nuts.
Chester Bekier of Dexter didn't worry that someone would enter his recipe. "It didn't come from any one recipe. I just tried this and that," said the first time entrant. What Bekier came up with was a shiny, dark "Pretty Good" fruitcake, heavy with molasses and white rum. Bekier used a hot knife to spread the glaze on a cooled cake, creating a sheen.
Martha Sachs's "North Meets South Fruitcake," a tall tube cake, took third place ($10). Made with molasses, candied pineapple, orange marmalade and six cups of black walnuts, baked for three hours, and soaked in bourbon for a month, this cake could easily serve 12. Sach's cake was decorated with glazed black walnut halves, orange peel ribbons and balsam fir sprigs.
"The presentations were beautiful," agreed Judges Linda Packard and Corinne Neal. Darlene Chadbourne was also a judge.
To enter, each cake had to weigh at least two pounds and contain fruit. Judging was 20 percent appearance and 80 percent flavor and texture. For the flavor, judges agreed that the spices shouldn't overwhelm. For the texture, the ideal fruitcake shouldn't be too moist or too dry, with just enough cake to bind the fruit and nuts.
Neal, a second time judge and a previous entrant, particularly liked June Steiners's brandied "Jeweled Fruitcake." "I could really taste the fruit and nuts. They were so fresh."
But Max Bonitz of Dexter, a spectator, liked Helen Frye's "Christmas Fruitcake." "It's more traditional," he said of the dense, blond loaf made with orange juice and lemon rind with cinnamon and nutmeg – like a real fruitcake."
After the judging the public was invited to sample all the entries.
Frye said it was the first time she had ever made a fruitcake, even one without alcohol. "It was fun. My daughter (Assistant Librarian Michelle Frye) convinced me to do this and handed me a recipe."
The densest fruitcake was the non-alcoholic "Nutty Fruitcake" by Anonymous. Made with only three-quarters of a cup of flour, the loaf was exploding with dates, large walnut pieces and maraschino cherries.
Already the entrants were planning for next year's Bake-Off. "I'm going to try a chocolate fruitcake," vowed winner Morancie. "There are just so many recipes to try.""This content originally appeared as a copyrighted article in the SVWeekly.com and is used here with permission."
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