“Fruitcake Gets Bum Rap”-a quirky individual who gets shuttled off to jail on an imaginary charge.
No, not that kind of fruitcake. I would never use such a politically incorrect term to define someone who might resemble my Great-aunt Lizzie who made pies out of left-over jams and jellies. I’m referring to the type of cake made from candied fruits and nuts that some insist on baking or buying to give as Christmas gifts. You’ve heard Jay Leno make fun of a family tradition of giving this cake, where one recipient says, “Why, thank yew sooo much! I just love fruitcake.” Then that person proceeds in wrapping it anew and giving it to someone else. The same cake is passed around for years—and never deteriorates!
I, for one, really, really do love fruitcake. Admittedly, some are better than others, but even the cheap ones that come in a decorative tin and sold in your local discount store have something to offer. At Christmas parties, someone always contributes a plate of dark sliced fruitcake, perhaps a little dry, forlorn, skipped over by guests as they select a tidbit here, a morsel there. Me? I’ll take a piece of the cake every time.
My mother made an excellent fruit cake back in the fifties and sixties. She used the common candied cherries and pineapple and citron, sometimes dyed green, raisins, and lots of good old Texas pecans. She would buy a big sack of pecans as early as she could in the fall, and Daddy cracked every one and picked out the nutmeats. Fresh pecans make a big difference. Since we were teetotalers at home, Mother would tell Daddy to buy a bottle of whiskey—she said whiskey, but probably meant bourbon—when he next had to work over the state line in New Mexico. Most of the South Plains counties were “dry.” After soaking the 10-inch-tube-pan cake two weeks in the alcoholic beverage, let me tell you, that was a good fruitcake. I especially enjoyed it for breakfast with a hot cup of black coffee.
Years later, I found my own recipe for fruitcake. I’d like to share it with you.
BRANDY NUT CAKE
3 cups chopped Texas pecans
1 ½ cups halved maraschino cherries
1 cup dark raisins- ½ cup light raisins
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbs. apricot brandy
½ cup apricot brandy, for soaking
Combine nuts and fruits. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add to nut mixture, tossing to coat well. Beat eggs till frothy; add the 2 Tbs. brandy. Pour egg mixture over fruit mixture; mix well. Pour batter into greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3 loaf dish or pan. Bake in 300 degree oven 1 hour and 45 minutes. (If you use a dark pan, perhaps lower the temperature a few degrees or test for doneness a few minutes early.)
When the cake cools, wrap in clean cheese-cloth. Dribble apricot Brandy over all sides until soaked. Wrap in aluminum foil. You may add more brandy later, if you wish. Store the cake at least a week.
Enjoy! And Merry Christmas.
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