Life, Death and Fruit Cake

My grandmother passed away recently.  She was hale and hearty and in great shape until one morning she suddenly died.  No warning, just gone.  It was a shock, but also blessing…. She was never sick, never in a nursing home or hospital…. just suddenly gone.

It is strange the things that will suddenly hit you when someone passes.  In the middle of the funeral it occurred to me… “Who will make the Thanksgiving Turkey?”  Grandma taught me to make the majority of the Family Recipes and passed on the responsibility of making the Birthday dinners (lasagane) and some of the special cookies…. But the turkey….. I have steadfastly refused to learn to make the turkey.  When I was writing the family cookbook, I spent the day with Grandma, trying to figure out how many cups equal a “handful.” Her recipes included the measurements “handful,” “pinch” and “some.”  I told Grandma that I wasn’t paying any attention… I was NOT going to learn to make the turkey…. that was her job and she would just have to live forever.

Apparently, Grandma decided to call my bluff…. This Thanksgiving I’ll have to figure out how to make the damn turkey…. It will never be quite the same, but I will try… and I will be thankful for the time I had with Grandma.

Fruit Cake was another one of Grandma’s special holiday treats….

I’d never understood the fruit cake jokes…what were these people talking about?!  My grandma’s fruit cake was delicious! ….until I started working and someone gave me a a fruit cake as a gift…. dry, nasty, brick-like… Barf!

After tasting that…. that… fruit barf! …. I’ve tried to make it a point to share one of Grandma’s fruit cakes with friends or co-workers each year.  My mission: to share GOOD fruit cake with the world.

Once I started to make the fruit cakes I began to understood why they are a once a year treat…. They take 4-5 hours to bake and THEN 4- 6 weeks to “cure”.  Oh, but they are worth it.  Maybe that is why so many of the fruit cakes you come across are so nasty… people aren’t wiling to put in the time and effort?

Baking and cooking is an act of love…. and nothing says love like a really good fruit cake.

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Fruit Cake

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb. – Raisins
  • ½ lb. – Cut Dates
  • ½ lb. – Cherries
  • 1 lb. – Assorted Candied Fruit
  • 2 c. – Chopped Nuts
  • 2 ½ c. – Sifted Flour
  • 1 tsp. – Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. – Salt
  • 1 tsp. – Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. – Cloves
  • ½ tsp. – Nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. – Ginger
  • 1 c. – Margarine
  • ½ c. – Brown Sugar
  • 1 c. – Corn Syrup
  • 4 – Eggs (Slightly Beaten)
  • ¼ c. – Orange Juice

Bottle of brandy.

Combine fruit with 1/4 cup brandy.  In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Combine fruit with ½ cup dry ingredients.

Cream butter.   Add sugar and cream until light and fluffy; add corn syrup and mix well.

Add dry ingredients one cup at a time, beat until smooth.  Add eggs, beat well after each addition.  Add orange juice, mix well.   Fold fruit into mix.

Makes two loaves.

Bake at 250 4-5 hours

Wrap each loaf in flour sack dish towel (You want something thicker than cheese cloth but thinner than a terry cloth towel.)  Pour 1/4 cup brandy over each wrapped loaf.  Store in an air tight container.  Reapply brandy each week for 4-6 weeks.  (Seriously) Decorate the tops of the loaves with candied fruit and nuts.  Share GOOD fruit cake with the world.

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