Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fruitcake Time

There are lots of jokes about fruitcakes, most of which involve (a) how no one eats them but re-gifts them, (b) how they're so heavy they could serve as manhole covers. That sort of thing. I just checked Google and found a site that lists the "six funniest things ever said about fruitcake" (link to site). And (see above) there are all sorts of cartoons.

But there's a fruitcake in our family (no, not one of my brothers) that I've always loved. My grandmother made it; her daughter, my mother, made it; I've been making them for years (and my older brother has recently begun to do so, too). Last year I posted that recipe, though, as I said then, I'm not sure where Grandma got it--a magazine? a friend? It's more or less a "white" fruitcake (see photo at the end.)

Here's a link to last year's post--a post (I just discovered) that repeats some of what I've just said. So it goes in one's galloping dotage! Anyway, last year's post contains an image of the recipe, so--if you're interested, click away!

I'm writing today about the fruitcakes because today is the day I'm baking them. Mom always said you should bake them over Thanksgiving. And I always have done what my mom told me ... okay, not always ...

An hour or so ago I started the process: chopping dried apricots, setting aside cups of mixed candied fruit, walnuts, white raisins, maraschino cherries in their juice), milk, eggs (EggBeaters), a bit of baking powder, a bit of vanilla extract, some unbleached white flour. I begin by creaming the three sticks of (soy) butter with a cup each of light brown sugar and regular sugar. (I think that's all? I'm going on Traitor Memory right now.)

As I type these words, they are serving their hour's sentence in the 325 oven (though I've discovered it almost always takes longer than that, despite what the recipe says). I can smell them, right now, and that smell propels me back to my earliest boyhood. And I see my grandmother's wry smile, hear my grandfather's unique body-shaking laughter, see my mom bringing one to the table, see my dad's eyes light up (food! his favorite thing on earth--except for his second son, of course), see my brothers eyeing the choices (which piece is biggest?). I remember wishing for more and more and more.

Until recently, I've made ten little loaves in the little loaf pans I get at the grocery. We would give them to friends, take them to parties, mail them to family, consume some in a feeding frenzy that would make piranha and sharks feel ashamed for how timid they are.

But last year I made only five--and will probably do so this year, too. I baked just five today. Now that my brother's making them, I don't need to send any to Massachusetts (where he and my other brother live)--though I will probably send one to Mom. There's a neighbor here who gets one every year. We'll give one to our son's grandmother-in-law (who loves them). We'll keep a couple in case we get visitors--and to slice on Christmas Day.

Last year, I still had one in the freezer in September. So I took it out to Mass. for my mom's 96th birthday celebration. It didn't last long.

just out of the oven
28 Nov 2015

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