Fruitcake ice cream fosters connections
Fruitcake has never been my go-to dessert, but I have developed a fondness for it — especially in the form of Salt & Straw's fruitcake ice cream. And of course, there's a great story behind the ice cream.
For more than 25 years, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (who serves Oregon's Third District), has baked fruitcake during the holiday season to share with family, friends and colleagues. He says it is his most enduring holiday ritual. He started out making just two loaves, but now the count is up beyond 200. In a blog titled "The Zen of Fruitcake," he shares that "every year, I vow to deal with wholesale suppliers for simplicity and volume, and every year I don't. In part, it is because of lack of organization, but also because it would detract from the ritual. I like to see who else is digging into the bin of citron for their own fruitcakes. I like the exchanges in the aisles, the knowing smile from the clerks, the occasional interactions with other fruitcake aficionados."
"The Zen of Fruitcake" goes beyond the high that Blumenauer gets from baking. It also includes the delivery — a special exchange between baker and recipient.
"The personal contact gives me the opportunity to exchange Christmas greetings," he writes. "Time permitting, there's a cup of cider. Other times, it's a few minutes on the porch or in the entryway as I interrupt somebody's holiday festivities. But in every case, it is a connection I look forward to, a salute to an earlier era.
"Connection, creation and fellowship. From Thanksgiving to New Year, this simple ritual, however idiosyncratic, has become an expression of what makes the holidays and the New Year special for me."
Cousins Kim Malek and Tyler Malek, founders of Portland-based Salt & Straw (with locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, soon in Lake Oswego and possibly Chicago) received a Blumenauer fruitcake some years back, which spurred them to collaborate with Blumenauer to create a fruitcake ice cream. Using his 17-ingredient fruitcake recipe, they soak everything in brandy and then mix nice big pieces into their salted vanilla ice cream.
I was invited to an event at which Tyler and the congressman tag-teamed a demonstration on how they make the ice cream. And of course, we got to sample — it really is a delicious treat.
To make it even sweeter, the Maleks and Blumenauer are partnering with Community Cycling Center, pledging to the nonprofit all proceeds from the sale of the fruitcake ice cream through December.
"We're so honored to be partnering with Congressman Blumenauer and the Community Cycling Center for the fourth year in a row," said Kim Malek. "Congressman Blumenauer is one of the most passionate bike advocates I know, and quite a great baker! No kid should be without a bicycle, and we firmly believe in the work that the Community Cycling Center is doing to broaden access to bicycling throughout the Portland community. We hope you and your loved ones will join us for a scoop or pint, and help spread the holiday cheer!"
Every $50 raised provides a bike, helmet and training for a child in the Portland area, thanks to Community Cycling Center. A holiday bike drive will be held Dec. 3 to distribute 300 bikes to children; you can learn more about this event online at communitycyclingcenter.org. But keep eating the ice cream throughout December, as it all benefits the programs of CCC. You can learn more about the organization's good works on the website listed above.
Other holiday flavors Salt & Straw is offering include Peppermint Cocoa, Apple Brandy & Pecan Pie, Spiked Lingonberry Eggnog (really yummy!) and Gingerbread Cookie Dough.
You can order online (and have it delivered via mail!) at saltandstraw.com or visit the stores located at 838 N.W. 23rd, 3345 S.E. Division and 2035 N.E. Alberta, or go to Wiz Bang Bar in Pine Street Market, 126 Pine St., all in Portland. The Lake Oswego shop is slated to open in spring 2018 in The Windward in downtown Lake Oswego.
This is truly delicious fruitcake — it's a light cake, not dense with fruit and nuts. I love that they toast the fruitcake before adding it to the ice cream. It has just the right flavor and texture. Salt & Straw was generous enough to share the recipe. But go sample their version before you bake this so you know exactly what it is intended to taste like.
Bon Appetit! Make Eating an Adventure!
Salt & Straw and Congressman Blumenauer's Fruitcake Recipe
8 ounces butter, room temp
2 2/3 cup sugar
6 eggs, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon mace
1½ cup milk
1½ cup sour cream
4 ounces citron
4 ounces lemon glace
8 ounces cherry glace, chopped if whole
8 ounces green cherry glace, chopped if whole
4 ounces currants
8 ounces golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350 F (temperature may vary depending on oven). Prepare loaf pans (you can make large or small loaves, but only fill pans three-quarters of the way with batter) by spraying with non-stick spray. We used six 6-inch-by-2½-inch pans for this recipe.
Cream butter and sugar together in mixer with paddle attachment. Once butter is lightened and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, scraping bowl well between each addition. Add vanilla.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and spices together. Stir milk and sour cream together. Alternatively add the flour and milk to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
Fold in fruits. Bake until golden brown (about an hour), and set in center. Check doneness by inserting a skewer or knife tip into bread; the skewer should have a few moist crumbs but no raw batter.
— Recipe courtesy of Salt & Straw.