12 October 2012

Fruit Cocktail Cake


I had a request from a reader to post a recipe for a Fruit Cocktail Cake. I tried to do a little research on the history of the recipe and couldn't find anything, other than the fact that it is also sometimes called an Ugly Duckling Cake.  I have no clue where that name came from since this cake is actually quite lovely in appearance.  I suspect that this cake, like so many others, came from a housewife who didn't have fresh fruit in the pantry and used what she had on hand.  If I'm right about that, then we should all thank her for her efforts.

I know you're thinking that there is no way that fruit cocktail could make anything that tastes even remotely palatable.  Fruit cocktail is notoriously mushy and pretty darn tasteless.  I'm not sure that it really has anything positive to spotlight.  It sure does make a spectacular cake, though.  You actually would be hard pressed to locate more than a nugget or two of discernible fruit in this cake once it's baked.  The fruit cocktail dissolves into the batter, adding a little sweetness and a whole lot of moist-ness.  This is one of the richest, most delicate, and moist-crumbed cakes I have ever had the pleasure of making or tasting.

I thought I would go in a different direction and try out my favorite broiled frosting on this cake.  A broiled frosting is almost the pinnacle of simplicity.  You mix the stuff together, spread it over the hot cake, and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes.  It transforms into a nice, crunchy layer of coconut and brown sugar yumminess on top of the cake.

pre-broiled icing mixture

Fruit Cocktail Cake
makes two 8" round cakes or one 9"x13" cake 

Print me, Please!!!

for the cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 - 15 oz can fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, undrained

for the frosting:
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) melted unsalted butter
1 cup shredded coconut

To make the cake:  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Spray your pan(s) with nonstick spray; set aside.

Mix together the sugar, butter, and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.  Add the fruit cocktail and stir until combined.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s).  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until slight brown, springy to the touch, and a tester comes out clean.  Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the icing.  Combine all the ingredients until well mixed.  After the cake(s) have cooled for 10 minutes, spread the icing on top of the cake(s) that have cooled for 10 minutes.  Put the cake(s) under the broiler until the icing has melted down some and the coconut is lightly toasted.  Remove from the oven and let cakes cool completely.

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