Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Lou & Lucy’s Leftovers

Ever have a hankering for some good ol’ fruit cake?

It happens in my household every year around these holiday times.

For years we would receive a delicious fruit cake from a vault in Texas somewhere that my wife’s aunt would send us.

She’s no longer with us (the aunt, not the wife), but I always think of her when visions of dates and candied fruit pop into my head.

So, this year I perused the Internet and found an old recipe from a Fannie Farmer cookbook that was simple enough that even I, a non-baker, could make.

Its ingredient list consisted of butter, dark brown sugar, lemon extract (I used vanilla), eggs, molasses, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, mace (didn’t have), ground cloves, salt, milk, candied fruit, candied cherries, candied citron peel, dates and pecans.

The fruit cake (two of them, actually) came out even better than I expected. Moist, fruity, datey.

The final instructions called for soaking the fruit cake in brandy for a few weeks.

Now that’s a recipe you have to love.

— Lou

I used to buy my late stepfather a fruitcake every year for Christmas. He savored it for months. Every time it looked a little dry, he’d splash a little brandy on it. It stayed very moist indeed.

I often had to search the stores for a fruitcake as the time honored confection became a bit of a Christmas joke.

A recipient of one these from an aunt or distant relative might ask the question, “Another fruitcake? What will we do with this?” The answers might be: use it for a doorstop or use it to hold up that broken table. I read that Johnny Carson often joked that there existed only one fruitcake in the world and it was passed around from family to family at holidays, ever unwanted, yet indestructible. I think that is the point. Historically, it is meant to last. The Egyptians entombed them. The Romans took them into battle. The cakes traveled over on the Mayflower.

All I can say is, be nice to your fruitcake and don’t knock what you haven’t tried. Or, at least, don’t knock anyone out with it.

— Lucy

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