Preparing To Bake
Mixing is probably the most difficult job of making pecan fruitcake, at least the job requiring the most muscle. However, at the beginning of the process a 60 quart mixer aids in the mixing.
Incorporating the flour, butter and brown sugar together is a process called "creaming". This requires quite a bit of skill and experience since problems will arise with the baking if the mixture is "creamed" too long or not enough. Dave has done this so many years he could probably do it in his sleep.
The pure honey, dark rum and fresh eggs are then incorporated in the batter as gently as possible to eliminate overbeating.
Dave's favorite part. Before dividing the batter, he makes sure that it is mixed well.
Division of the batter is done to measure just enough for each batch of fruitcakes.
The most physically demanding part of making fruitcakes is hand mixing over twenty pounds of batter, nuts and fruit. At Sunshine Hollow, it has been done this way for 30 years to make sure the pecans halves, pineapple chunks and whole cherries are not crushed or broken. The cakes glaze and decorate themselves during the baking process so having the whole pecans and fruit on top makes them look scrumptious. Many bakeries only decorate the top of their cakes with whole fruit and pecans, but Sunshine Hollow's cakes have fruit and pecans throughout.
The mixed and finished batter is then panned into different sizes of fruitcakes. The same batter is used for making all sizes of cakes except the "Little Dazzlers." Little Dazzlers use a smaller size pecan to make it easier to get the batter into the miniature baking pans.
The mixed and finished batter is then panned into different sizes of fruitcakes. There are six different sizes of cakes. Some are used for mail order sales, while some are sold at the Bakery Sales Shop and at Christmas Shows.
As the fruitcakes are panned into different sizes, the weight of each cake is confirmed to make sure it is full. A little more batter is always added to each cake to make sure the customer is getting full measure.
An important part of panning is leveling each fruitcake. The fruitcake batter is so dense that it has to be manually distributed and leveled in the pan. Leveling and placing batter also contributes to the beautiful look of the cake once it is baked.