We don’t eat dessert every night but the other night after dinner, we really wanted dessert. And we hadn’t made anything. I suppose we could have mixed a little apricot jam into plain yogurt. Or we could have had cinnamon toast. And then we remembered that we still had a little piece of my mom’s fruitcake left from last year. (It always reminds us of the pan-forte we had in Siena.)
For as long as I can remember, Mom has made the cake each year for Christmas. She also made it for our weddings. I used to love coming home from school on the day that she and my Godmother made the cake. At lunchtime, the baby’s bathtub that they used for mixing would be full of cake batter – smelling of spices and brandy. We would get to stir the batter. I loved the feel of the big wooden spoon in my hand and the thrill of stirring the gemlike fruit and nuts in the bathtub as I made my wish. And then after school, the house smelled even more wonderful with the even more intense smell of spiced cake and whatever Mom and my Godmother were preparing for dinner. And my Godfather would come home from work with Dad and we’d all sit around the dining room table, laughing and chattering about the day’s events, excited about Christmas being just around the corner.
I confess that even though the fruitcake recipe is here, I never make it because Mom gives us a generous piece of the cake she makes each year for Christmas. Have I mentioned that her cake is really really good? It is also really really rich. A little goes a very long way. And it always improves with age (which seems almost impossible – how can something that is virtually perfect improve?).
What a wonderful dessert we had! Thinly sliced pieces of cake with thinly sliced cheddar cheese. Delicious! Thanks, Mom!