The fruitcake quandary
I have a dirty little secret to confess: I like fruitcake. And what's happened to fruitcake in my lifetime annoys me.
I guess store-bought fruitcakes are the reason it's now the butt of so many jokes, but you simply can't make and give fruitcake anymore and expect it to be appreciated.
I wish I could cut each of you a slice of my mother's Virginia fruitcake to try. It's a white fruitcake, which means it's made with finely diced citron (cut by hand), Brazil nuts and pecans and is light in color. It is, of course, soaked for months in brandy and rum, so it's quite alcoholic. A very adult treat to have thinly sliced with tea.
Needless to say, it looks nothing like the fruitcake pictured. It has no candied cherries, and all the nuts are chopped quite fine.
I used to make a batch every year until my brother (yes, Brother Bim, that brother) made some really ugly fruitcake jokes one year when I sent him one. Since he worships everything else that ever came out of our mother's kitchen even more than I do, I realized everyone else I gave a fruitcake to must have just been being polite.
My husband and Gailor, of course, aren't interested because it doesn't involve chocolate.
When I was at Whole Foods the other day, the bakery was handing out samples of its fruitcake. It was nice and moist, and I'm sure the ingredients were all very healthy, but there wasn't even the fragrance of alcohol. I didn't really see the point.
I love all the old-fashioned Christmas desserts, probably because my father the English professor did. My mother made a plum pudding every year, with suet of course; and he was in charge of making the hard sauce. He insisted on creaming the butter with granulated sugar because that's how the Victorians would have done it. (They didn't have confectioners sugar.) My younger brother and I hated it because it was grainy.
I even made a figgy pudding once.
(AP Photo/Ryan Hasler)