Almost Wordless Not-Wednesday: Fruitcake

:!: :?: :!: :!:

One of our friends loves this card – she imagines that she doesn’t like fruitcake.
:lalala: Poor her! :lalala:
:hohoho: She clearly hasn’t tried Mum’s fruitcake! :hohoho:
Christmas Cake

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.

summary: Edward Gorey fruitcake card; Mum’s fruitcake; making substitutions; 10 year old cheddar; an almost Wordless Not-Wednesday post

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!

Christmas Cake

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!


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1 response to “Almost Wordless Not-Wednesday: Fruitcake

  1. Patricia

    You’re welcome! I like making the cake every year, it’s become an adventure in experimentation. I make copious notes every year about what works and what doesn’t. Boy, my chef son, and I have long conversations about what will work and what won’t.

    My issue with store-bought peel us that it’s really big lumps of rind. Even thinking about it makes my face squinch up. The 2017 cake had lemon zest in it–just plain lemon zest. I bowed to pressure and candied my own peel this year by carefully peeling strips off a couple of lemons, a grapefruit and a couple of oranges. I made sure to scrape off all the bitter pith, too. No big honking pieces of rind for me!

    I had a jolly time making candied peel because earlier this year, I bought an Instant Pot. Of course, I had to play with it. Candied peel in the Instant Pot takes way less time (impatient? Me? Tchah!) and I don’t have to stand over a stove stirring things. I used some of the citrus syrup left from the candying process in the cake.

    I have to say, though, there’s a vague sense of unease when every year I don’t use strawberry jam. This year, I used Saskatoon berry jam that I’d made in the summer and I could hear Mum’s voice in my ear saying, “but the taste!” I said to her, as I do every year, “I reckon the original makers of this cake would have used whatever jam they had on hand and I have This kind. Now get out of my head and let me make the cake.”

    I wonder what I’ll do next year….

    edit: Hahahaha! As if that little bit of strawberry jam would do much to change the flavour of the cake! Having said that, what a great idea to use Saskatoon berry jam! I bet our grandmother would have chosen that in a flash over mundane strawberry jam! -Elizabeth


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