Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Calendar Day 14: Fruitcake

(Originally posted in December 2009.)

Is there no one who loves fruitcake?

I do. Kind of. If it’s moist (= has lots of booze). The fruit must not be old and the nuts should also be in top condition; pecans are the best.

All right, so I’m a self-proclaimed fruitcake expert.

Because I started making fruitcakes when I was 12 years old.

That was the year my mother broke her wrist when we all went ice skating.

You need a really strong wrist to make a good fruitcake.

The men in our family (my father and brother) were almost totally helpless in the kitchen.

So it was up to me to keep the tradition going.

Fruitcake baking in our house was done on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Step one: Put the butter and brown sugar together in bowl; stir until thoroughly combined into a mixture of smooth consistency. This was where the elbow grease came in. (A mixer would have been a wimp-out and also posed the danger of a mixture that was too lumpy or too liquid to support the fruit.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no need to worry about flabby upper arms if you make enough fruitcakes. I stirred and stirred and stirred. I used my left hand to support my right arm. I changed to stirring with my left hand. Then back to the right hand. After what seemed like hours, that “smooth consistency” was finally achieved.

The rest was pretty easy. The only tricky part was to bake it for exactly the right amount of time; too much would ruin the taste and too little would leave it with no structural integrity.

And structural integrity is important. Because for the next month – and this is why fruitcakes are baked on the Friday after Thanksgiving – the liquor of choice would be added in generous doses every other day. And if the fruitcake is underbaked, that equals a runny mess.

My family showered praise on me that Christmas for producing an outstanding first fruitcake. My Smugness Coefficient skyrocketed and my nose didn’t come out of the air for a full week.

My mother and I must have made a few fruitcakes during my high school years; these were probably cooperative efforts.

I don’t make fruitcakes any more. I have one labor-intensive dessert to make for Christmas – kolaches – and that is enough. Plus my mother-in-law makes a killer fruitcake (sooo moist … mmmmm).


  1. No wonder I never liked our families fruit cake. No one drank liquor so I wonder what they put in it.

  2. Had I known the secret to a great fruitcake (other than the stirring) was liquor I would have tried the real thing years ago. It's your birthday?? Maybe candles on a fruitcake? Have a happy one and thanks for sharing.

  3. Good work, Greta - I may try
    fruitcake again based on your post (only a wee bit with lots of cherries!) Happy Birthday :-)

  4. Lady, you made my arms tired just reading this post! lol! I don't think I would ever be ambitious enough to try baking one myself. You have my admiration!

  5. i like pecans in mine too. but i do use a mixer for the batter before adding all the stuff.

  6. LGO - While I think the pre-liquor ingredients are also important, the liquor definitely enhances the flavor!

    FHW - Thank you for your birthday wishes!

    anaharcockermom - Candles on a fruitcake is a neat idea. What I had was close - it was kind of a fruit tart thing - delicious!

    Jo - Good cherries in a fruitcake are a must - good luck with your fruitcake!

    Lori - Yeah, I don't think my arms and wrists are up to this effort any more (though I still have my mother's recipe).

    Kristin - To me, pecans are the king of nuts, though I like most of the other nuts, too. If I did return to making fruitcakes, I would probably use my KitchenAid, too.

    Thank you all for stopping by!