The Wonderful Fruited Cake

You either love it or hate it...from what camp are you?

Some will smile with delightful anticipation…some will screw up their faces in distaste.  Such is the essence of fruitcake, it seems — you either love it or hate it.

I am of the camp that loves it.  The rich, buttery aroma of those heavily fruited cakes is as much a Christmas tradition to me as the tree itself.  Of course, it wasn’t always that way.

When I was a little girl, my mother always made two fruitcakes every year — one light, and one dark.  On a day that was deemed “just right” for the long, slow bake — perhaps one of those days when the air smelled like snow — she would get up extra early in the morning, cut and flour the huge mixing bowls of nuts, raisins, and candied fruit and set out the rest of the ingredients to come to room temperature.  Pounds of rich butter (margarine or shortening won’t do for fruitcakes!) and a dozen eggs warmed on the counter.  And then came the arduous task of mixing it all together and putting it into the prepared pans.  The kitchen would soon be filled with the wonderful aroma of spices and butter, molasses and dark sugar.  I would be shooed into another room to play lest my jumping around would make the cakes “fall”.

When the cakes were finally ready to come out of the oven, there was such excitement and nervous anticipation as they cooled a few minutes in their pans.  Then they would be turned out onto racks to cool with proud exclamations of how “perfectly golden” and “wonderfully moist” the cakes were.  When fully cooled, they were wrapped in a layer of brandy soaked cheesecloth, then plastic wrap, and then stored in cake tins from the 1950′s that were just the right size for the cakes.  They were left to “season” in a cool, dark place until the ceremonious first taste.

Then one day in December, my Mom and her best friend, Florence (my godmother), would share the ritual of the first cut over several cups of tea in china cups, always pronouncing that, indeed, that year’s cake outshone all those that had gone before.

It took me a while to warm up to fruitcake, and I never did develop a close relationship with the dark cakes, but I eventually came to look forward to the fudgy, golden goodness of the light ones.  My Mom hasn’t made fruitcakes, light or dark, for a few years now.  Manipulating the heavy batter bothers her arthritic hands and arms and, though I completely understand why she gave up the ritual, I must say that the lead up to Christmas doesn’t seem quite the same without this long-standing tradition.

So, I’ve taken over the baking of the fruit cakes.  Rather than make one large cake, I usually bake three smaller ones and share them with my parents, Charlie’s folks, and keep one for us me.  Charlie and none of our daughters can stand fruitcake — which leaves all the more for me. :)

How about you?  Love it, or hate it?

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Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

15 thoughts on “The Wonderful Fruited Cake”

    1. It’s a good recipe, Joey — one my Mom has made forever. :) (Aren’t those always the best?) It really is almost fudgy in texture and so buttery. Yummm! I know, some people think they should be used for doorstops…sacrilege, say I!! Thanks for stopping by…I know you’ve been a busy gal!

  1. Nancy girl those fruit cakes look delicious !! .. I am a dark fruit cake lover and it has to have marzipan topping for it to be really yummy .. not too much of the candied fruit .. more raisins, currents, nuts … cherries !! LOL
    Well .. now you know there are other fruit cake people out here and you don’t have to hide being one ? LOL wink wink .. we can come out of the closet ?? LOL
    Joy

    1. You’ll have to check out this link sometime, Joy: http://mbgoodman.tripod.com/fruitcake.html It will take you to the homepage of the Society for the Protection and Preservation of Fruitcake. :-) It has some great recipes and interesting anecdotes on it.

      The one thing I never put in my cakes are currants — can’t stand the gritty bite of them. :-) How are things in ON? Wintry? It’s extremely windy and rainy here today, but colder weather and some snow on the way later in the week. Eeek! So much to do!!

  2. Beautiful post about this family tradition, Nancy! Those cakes look lovely…and delicious. I didn’t used to like fruitcake but find them tasty now. As I’ve gotten older the extra sweetness of the candied fruits agrees with my palate! Of course, it depends on the fruitcake itself…for there are many varieties. The one you make sounds wonderful–makes me wish I could have some right now! The idea of soaking them in brandy is a nice touch, as not all fruitcakes have that added delight. I hope you will have a wonderful holiday season;-)

  3. My husband and I like it, and use my mom’s handwritten recipe when we make it. I have all the ingredients, but haven’t put them together yet.

    This is a wonderful Christmas post, Nancy, and is what holiday memories are made of.

  4. I love fruitcake! I also have wonderful memories of Mom and Grandma making those cakes in early November. I continued the tradition with my children. I can remember my John at the age of 3 sitting on the table with the huge bowl next to him and he with a big wooden spoon…trying to stir that stiff mixture. That fruitcake baking smell that filled the air was Christmas to me. Thanks for bringing back some memories. Balisha

  5. Beautiful post, Nancy. I appreciated seeing it. The warm aroma of fruitcake is, indeed, one of my favourite Christmas memories. I never liked it as a child (preferring instead to pick the gumdrops out of the gumdrop cake), as I suspect I thought it might be too healthy. I do enjoy it now, especially the ritual of making the cakes, then the joy of giving them away to seniors, who no longer do their own baking. Fruitcake and tea. hmm.

  6. It’s wonderful that you have taken on the role of baking the traditional cakes, Nancy.

    Personally we enjoy the dried fruit version of fruitcake, but none of us in this family go for the candied fruit versions. My grandmother, who lived in Phoenix, AZ and grew her own dates, made delicious date cakes topped with a coconut and butter frosting. That was/is my favorite fruit cake.

  7. How great you have taken on the baking of the Christmas cakes. As I responded on FB the day you posted this, I love it, especially the dark cakes. Yours look yummy!

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