I did a brief survey on Facebook, asking my friends what their first thought was about fruitcake. One in particular described it as a “brick-like-thing,” which made me laugh out loud. So, how do you describe fruitcake? Is it a dessert or a doorstop? The response on Facebook was almost unanimous. “YUCK!” But then, there were comments like:
I have a vision in my head of a ‘person,’. ..but love the food version! Lol
Years ago, before our time, fruitcakes were the only cakes containing nuts..and fruitcake is generally disliked by many….put the two together and you get ‘I don’t particularly care for that person-they’re as nutty as a fruitcake.”
Not a fan! Never have I ever been able to swallow a bite!
If you’re talking about that brick like thing we all get for Christmas, then, YUCK! But, if you’re talking about one that someone actually takes the time, and I mean days, to make one from scratch, then they are so good. Must be all that rum that the fruit and nuts are soaked in, then all the rum they pour over the cake itself, lol.
Yuck! But I have memories of my dad buying 2 fruit cakes that came in the can at Christmas. He would pour a little bourbon over it to keep it moist and wrap it up tight and place it back in the can. He would have a small slice in the evening and cherished the fruit cake for a few months.
So, the holidays are over and your refrigerator is filled with leftovers. And then there’s that little loaf of dried fruit. Do you share it with your neighbors? Feed it to the dog? Or do you prop it in front of the door so Rover can come and go as he pleases?
Another friend of mine said, “with all the talk of bourbon and rum, there may be a secret society of fruitcake lovers that the rest of us are not privy to”. I’m going with this theory. Pour enough liquor on anything, and the taste is irrelevant.
But, then, there’s my husband’s grandmother’s version that my mother-in-love sent me… This sounds delicious. My mother-in-love is another one who doesn’t care for fruitcake, except for this recipe. She and I have similar tastes in just about everything else, so I’m guessing I would like it, too. I don’t think I ever tried it, because I was predisposed to the notion that it would be “YUCK!”
And just like one of my Facebook friends said, “it takes days to make it from scratch.” As one of our many southern traditions during the holidays, I hope that by sharing this recipe here, I can improve our relationship with fruitcake.
Big Mother’s Fruitcake
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 box white raisins
3 cups pecans
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 sticks margarine (melted)
1 T. vanilla flavoring
2 lb. vanilla wafers
1 bottle Mogen David wine (blackberry or grape)
Candied Fruit: (you can substitute any variety)
2 – 16 oz. mixed fruit
1 – 8 oz cherries
1- 4 oz cherries (for top decoration)
2 – 4 oz lemon peel
2 -4 oz orange peel
Soak vanilla wafers in wine for several hours or overnight. Mix sugar and spices, add well beaten eggs and add to wafer mixture. Add margarine and vanilla and mix well.
Mix fruit and nuts and sprinkle with flour. Add floured fruit and nuts to wafer mixture and mix well.
Cook 2 ½ hours at 250 degrees in greased and floured pans (tube and loaf). Ovens vary so test with toothpick.
Now, if you want a really tasty fruitcake that you don’t have to spend days in the kitchen preparing, there are a group of monks that make and sell them from The Abbey of Gethsemani. My mother-in-love read about them in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago and has ordered one periodically since. She says it is the next best thing to her mother’s recipe.
“The Abbey of Gethsemani is a community of Roman Catholic monks belonging to the worldwide Order of Cistercians of Strict Observance commonly known as Trappist. The community was established in 1848 in Trappist, Kentucky. Currently 48 monks live here.”
These monks began making fruitcake in 1955 and use four-year-old, 100 proof, Jim Beam Bourbon made in Kentucky as a key ingredient. It is injected into the fruitcake after it is baked. You can keep it for up to a year without refrigeration, and it should be eaten at room temperature.
Due to the fact that there are 2 ounces of good bourbon in these, I strongly recommend that you NOT feed it to Rover – regardless of how you feel about fruitcake. And another thought… either a sweet grandmother or a community of southern monks have spent time preparing these cakes, so splurge a little. Be a fruitcake. Eat a fruitcake. Prop your doors open with a real brick that you’ve painted a pretty color and welcome your friends in for slice of
bourbon, I mean fruitcake. Serve it with a hot toddy and your friends just might become homesteaders, so be careful which fruitcakes you serve it to.