First off, if you don’t like fruitcake, or if you are prone to making fruitcake jokes, you should leave now, because this is a fruitcake post.
I love fruitcake. And this is the fruitcake season, my friends! In looking up fruitcake online, trying to find some funny graphic to jazz up this post, I found this helpful definition from “the urban dictionary“:
1. A derogatory term for a homosexual man.
2. Someone who is completely insane.
3. A cake made with bits of fruit and drenched in scotch.
Yeah… I’m talking about definition #3, which in my opinion should be #1 in list order. (Though I guess, when you realize how much I love fruitcake, you may be whispering definition #2). If you are imagining a brightly colored, shiny, store-bough fruitcake, STOP. Really, that’s not fruitcake. That’s garbage.
There is a scene in Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” which gives the joy (and insanity) of fruitcake its due. Not because it depicts fruitcake production accurately (though it mostly does) but more because it delves into the psychology of the fruitcake, which is deep and profound. To make a fruitcake, you gather ingredients which are rather precious (or at least, traditionally precious): nuts, dried fruits, alcohol, butter and sugar. You spend a good deal of time and energy measuring, mixing, baking, basting. Then you just give it all away, usually to people who don’t appreciate the glorious gift you have bestowed upon them.
I keep a mental tally of people who tell fruitcake jokes and make fruitcake-derisive comments, and trust me those offenders are off the fruitcake list. Forever. My fruitcake is a labor of love, and I can’t give it away to people who would mock it. Also it is expensive. I use high quality and all natural dried figs, apricots, pineapple, cherries, apples, and raisins. Whole walnuts and pecans. Dark rum and brandy. Once I priced out my ingredients and calculated that a mini-loaf costs me $5 to make.
Here is a bad picture of some fruitcake slices, made worse by the fact that 1. I took this picture, and 2. this is last year’s fruitcake from the freezer (yes, I hoard it):
So anyway, this weekend will be fruitcake weekend. The recipe I use is from “Christmas 101” by Rick Rodgers. If you are looking for a fantastic cookbook for holiday baking and meal planning, you should pick that up. The cookie recipes are all superb, and the timetables for dinners are very helpful. He has a wonderful style of writing, and also adds in little personal stories and general historical background on popular holiday foods, which are all super interesting.
I will try to take some crappy pictures on fruitcake day, but honestly the rum flows pretty freely during fruitcake production, and I can’t be responsible for my behavior. Though I suppose that would increase the entertainment value of my food-related posts 🙂