Every year, my sister P sends us cake made from (mostly) Mum’s recipe. We keep the cake until the following Christmas, because aged cake always tastes better.
P took over the Christmas Cake making a few years ago when Mum moved to an assisted living apartment that didn’t have an oven. The first year, she phoned Mum to ask if she could make a few substitutions. For instance, would it be okay to use only cashews? (Yes, no problem.) And, because she was having difficulty finding candied papaya, could she leave it out? (Yes, no problem.) Then came my sister’s fateful mistake: Mum’s response:
P: [gaining confidence] Would it be alright to use my homemade plum jam instead of strawberry jam because nobody here will eat it – we really don’t like strawberry jam?
Mum: [aghast] No! It has to be strawberry jam. I ALWAYS used strawberry jam. Your grandmother ALWAYS used strawberry jam.
And so, being the obedient daughter she is, my sister used her homemade plum jam and after Mum tasted the cake, she confessed her transgression. Mum was a little surprised, having forgotten how adamant she had been about the strawberry, and said, “Of course it doesn’t matter. It’s only a little bit of jam in the batter anyway!”
Thus began P’s manipulations of Mum’s fruitcake recipe. First it was just the jam. Then, she omitted the maraschino cherries because she can’t stand maraschino cherries (who doesn’t loathe them??) The next year, she agreed to put the cherries back, but replaced the maraschino cherries with dried cherries. And she omitted the peel. Because she can’t stand candied peel. Each year that P made it, the cake has been delicious. Each year it has been different from the previous year. Each year since she refused to add candied peel, we’ve begged her to put it back. She finally agreed to try adding candied peel to the cake. By candying it herself.
Naturally, this year, we HAD to taste both 2017 and 2018 side by side. We neeeeeeeded to taste the peel!
The cake on the right arrived at our house in early December 2017 – it has been in its tin since then, waiting to be opened; the cake on the left is this year’s cake made in early November 2018.
For the taste test, we tasted each piece on its own, and also each piece paired with 10 year old cheddar from Quebec.
We loved both! But, even though it hasn’t aged quite long enough, this year’s cake with its added lemon peel edges out last year’s cake. 2018’s cake is going to be stellar next December!
Thank you, P!
We ♥ fruitcake!
- Currant Affairs (BBB December 2018)
- Lucky Us
- Mmmm! Blue Cheese and Port
- Candied Citrus Peel and Ersatz Stollen (BBB December 2011)
- Dark Fruitcake