Joke…or a little piece of heaven?

Beware! This post probably contains more verbiage about fruitcakes than you can tolerate. But heck, it’s that time of year!
It’s fruitcake season. Fruitcake: The brunt of jokes (the first one I heard this year: “My family has one fruitcake. We pass it from person to person every year..”). For some, like my husband, it ignites an annual quest: Find a fruitcake, a decent fruitcake, that can approach the taste ambrosia his grandmother created each year. As his search has become more, well, fruitless, the longing increases. His grandmother used fruit, lots of fruit. “All these have too much cake! It should be more fruit!” Grandma started making her cakes in September. “Lots of green and red cherries. And citrus peel.” After they were baked she’d wrap them up and then soak them in brandy, dousing them repeatedly month by month until they were just right. By Christmas they were perfect and the little boy version of my husband feasted so contentedly he’s never recovered. Though the fruitcake above is iced with marzipan, this is the first fruitcake that’s come anywhere near passing muster in decades. My husband’s face lights up like a four year old catching a glimpse of Santa when I dole out the nightly slice. It remains hidden. Otherwise it would disappear in moments as he beasts it.

Me? I’ll eat fruitcake but my affection for it doesn’t approach the level of addiction of, say, chocolate. Fruitcake had an entirely different place in my family history. My uncle, a commercial baker, was in charge of fruitcake production for Hostess Bakeries. We got a fruitcake every year in one of the distinctive Hostess antique-looking gold tins with a picture of a woman on it. I think she was holding a plate with a fruitcake on it. And every year around the Christmas table we’d hear war stories of fruitcake production from my uncle who, by Christmas, had seen enough green and red cherries to jade the jolliest of Christmas elves. The only brandy I knew that was related to fruitcake was probably downed in relief by my uncle. I took it totally for granted, much like my childish belief that nothing would ever change. I don’t remember when we stopped getting the cakes. My uncle moved up the corporate chain and eventually moved to the East Coast for the remainder of his working career. He moved on to Twinkies. (Really!) But that’s another story.

So. What about you? Shall I cut you a slice, or is there another treat that speaks to you of happy holidays?

5 thoughts on “Joke…or a little piece of heaven?”

  1. Unless it is chocolate, cake holds little appeal to me. Perhaps I’m missing many pleasures, but I think I’ll pass on fruitcake. Have you ever seen Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory?” I used to love watching it, but it hasn’t been available for years and years. Fruitcakes figure very prominently in this lovely Christmas story. Last year I saw a local theatre production of it; fun, but not quite the video version which is unavailable now. If you haven’t read the short story, be sure to get it this year. You’ll love it.

  2. I’m not that fond of fruitcake – but my mom used to make one that she put in the oven to bake in a huge roasting pan – and stirred it every hour until it reach a certain consistency – then she pressed it in bread pans to cook and form into loaves. It was more fruit than dough – that’s for sure. I didn’t get the recipe when she passed away and have been looking for it for almost 20 years.

    On facebook my niece mentioned she was making fruit cake and it sure looked like my mom’s. She said she had gotten the recipe from her other grandma and when she shared the recipe – it was the EXACT one my mom had used. Both my mom and my niece’s other grandma lived in the same town – they probably shared the recipe. So now I must get busy and make a small batch – small because I don’t want 12 loaves of fruit cake – not even 6, so I’ll make a quarter recipe and fill my bread pans a little fuller.

    Does perhaps your husband’s fondness of his childhood fruitcake have something to do with the repeated dousings of brandy? LOL

  3. Oh, I DEFINITELY want a piece. I never understand all of those jokes about fruitcake. I could inhale a whole fruitcake at one sitting.


  4. hahaha, nice! i once indeed saw a recipe for fruitcake and that you had to sort of keep it for a while… i found it odd, and besides, cakes need to be eaten right after you make them. or the next day…. but now you got me curious again!
    i do want to know about the twinkies too! i got interested in those once they were not available anymore. then i really wanted to taste them, but i never did. buuhh. although i most likely didnt miss much.
    but actually for cakes/pies/tarts whatever you call them; just stay with apple pie! traditional dutch apple pie! served warm, with some whipped cream on top. ah, and a coffee….

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