J-J-J-J Jelly Roll!

Another easy, delicious, and deceptively impressive dessert. It is a wonderful way to incorporate delicious fruit jam into your baking and a great recipe to have in your collection. Join Kori in the kitchen at Raggedy Hen Farm and check out all our delicious fruit jam offerings in the Raggedy Hen Farm store.

Bringing Fruitcake Back

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Fruit Cake has had its share of bad press–some of it very well deserved!  Those 2-ton loaves that come stuffed in cans and sold on the cheap have given this holiday season classic a seriously bad name.  A few years ago, we decided to try our hand at making good, old-fashioned fruitcake~fresh, homemade, full of delicious ingredients, and soaked in brandy.  It was such a hit, we’ve been making it ever since.  We started with an old recipe from Teri’s mother (a copy of a blurry carbon copy no less) and Kori has upgraded and adapted it until we have, what we think is the yummiest, melt-in-your-mouth, almost-good-for-you version on the planet!

We make this huge batch the week of Halloween and then let it age and mellow (see below.)  It is ready to start eating at Thanksgiving and has been known to last nearly a year (soaked in enough brandy!)

FRUIT CAKE–with KORI’S ADAPTATIONS

2 pounds mixed candied fruit

1 pound candied cherries

4 cups shelled pecans, chopped (1/2 cup – 1 cup halves reserved for decorating)

1/2 pound chopped, dried figs

1-2 cups dried cranberries

2 pounds raisins

1 pound golden raisins

1 pound dates (chopped, if you can get them)

1 cup brandy or fruit juice (or blackberry wine)

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 Tablespoons Raggedy Hen Farm Baking Spice Blend (or 1 Tablespoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon each: cloves, allspice, nutmeg)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup butter

2 cups brown sugar, packed

8 eggs (we use our fresh backyard eggs)

1 cup fruit jam–favorite flavor

2/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup cherry or blackberry wine, brandy or grape juice

2 teaspoons vanilla

The night before mixing (or early in the morning), put together the mixed fruit, 3/4 pound cherries (save some for decoration), pecans, figs, raisins, dates, cranberries. Chop nuts, if needed and if not using chopped dates, snip dates with kitchen shears (you might need to dip in hot water periodically to prevent stickiness).  Mix all the fruits well in a very large bowl.  Add 1 cup brandy or fruit juice and stir in.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight or for several hours.

Mix, sift together flour, spices, baking powder, and soda.  Add about 2 cups of this flour mixture to the soaking fruits and stir in.  You will want to have the flour-fruit mixture in a very large bowl since this is where all the final mixing and blending will take place.

Cream butter, add brown sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs 2 at a time.  beat in fruit jam and molasses. Add the remaining dry ingredients to this alternatively with the 1/2 cup of wine, brandy or juice.  Finally, stir in vanilla.

Now, pour the well-combined batter over the floured fruits and mix thoroughly. We usually do this with our clean hands as it is such a bit lot! Grease your loaf pans well (large, small, mini, or a combination). Line with wax paper, parchment or foil and grease the inside again.  Fill pans almost level with the top (they will rise a little, but not too much).  Bake in a 275 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours with a cake pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Once done, take out and cool in pans for about a half hour.  At this point, we generally sprinkle with a little more brandy before removing from the pan.  Remove from pan, peel off paper and put on rack to cool.  Once cool, sprinkle with some more brandy or fruit juice and then wrap each loaf in wax paper and foil.  Put in a cool, dry place to age.  After about a week or two, unwrap and sprinkle with a bit more brandy or juice.  Rewrap and let age and mellow some more.  We generally let these mellow for about a month before we start eating and sharing!

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For the Love of Figs

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We are feeling fortunate this Fall is turning out to be a banner year for figs.  We knew our King Fig tree was working overtime as we watched fruit after fruit start growing on the good-sized, but quite manageable tree we have in the corner of our back yard.  The branches got so heavy that some even drooped down and touched the ground.  The figs are getting wonderfully ripe and we’ve been going out every day for the last week to pick bowls full.

We’ve learned how to tell the figs are ripe as they get very soft and plump and so easy to snap from the branches.  If allowed to go even a day or two beyond ripeness, they will split and fall to the ground.  Fortunately, the chickens absolutely love the dropped fruit and we’ve been tossing the extra soft ones into the run for them to devour.

So far, we’ve made up some fig preserves; we generally use jars of this as a roasting marinade for pork and ham throughout the winter–this makes for the most incredibly delicious pork loin roasts and pork chops!  We also made up a batch of ginger honey fig jam as an experiment–making jam with honey can be a bit of a challenge and this recipe is a bit heavy on the ginger to balance out the sweetness of the honey. And, of course, we are drying the ripe figs in the dehydrator–so yummy and useful!

With such a bumper crop of figs, we’ve also created a jam for the Raggedy Hen Farm store–Ginger Vanilla Fig!  Freshly cooked figs (within minutes of coming off our tree they are bubbling away on the stove), with organic vanilla bean and organic ground ginger.  This jam is delicious and useful–great served over cream cheese with crackers, so yummy on waffles or biscuits, and you could even stir this into a salad dressing or make a meat marinade.

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Just Peachy!

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The end of summer means many things to many people, but one of my favorite seasonal gifts is the availability of ripe, local peaches.  I have never had much luck with growing them myself and our current mini-orchard, with its apple, persimmon, fig, and cherry trees is wonderful, but it doesn’t provide us with peaches.  Yesterday, we headed out to one of our favorite (other) local farms and were delighted to find freshly picked, huge, ripe peaches–still damp with morning dew!

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Since we are convinced that one of the things that makes our jam so delicious is  that we strive to use the freshest fruit in-season, and cook it up into glistening jam as quickly as possible,, we couldn’t wait to get all that peachy magic into jars.  This year, we’ve created a new Vanilla Peach Jam recipe, so tucked in between the soft ripe bits of peaches, there are tiny tasty seeds scraped from organic vanilla beans and we added a pinch of our homemade vanilla extract to the batch as well.

Of course, we didn’t use all the peaches in jam!  Last night’s dessert was a warm peach crisp and we’ll be canning some jars of sliced peaches in syrup for winter use too.  Meanwhile, our chickens have been delighted to feast on all the peach skins coming out in pan-fulls from the kitchen here at Raggedy Hen Farm.

If you’re interested in giving our Vanilla Peach Jam a try, we have it available for a limited time over at the shop!