Fruitcake, Anyone???

I have an uneasy relationship with fruitcakes.

You know, the stuff you eat. Well, I suppose you eat it. I mean, from what I’ve heard, no one eats it. It gets shoved into the back of some cupboard, or into the corner of a freezer, and there it stays until is discovered, like an Indiana Jones artifact. You have to dig it out with a pick.

And by then, it will have acquired the density of a hockey puck.

But my questions is, if so many people hate it, why does it keep showing up on store shelves? Somebody must be buying this dreck.

And what about the people who make them?

If you stop and think about it, there’s an awful lot of fruitcake around at this time of the year, and if you can find one person who says he or she likes it, then you’re farther ahead than me, my friend.

My mother used to make fruitcakes. She would start in September so that they would age properly.

“Age” properly??? I don’t get it. They are the only thing on the face of the planet that doesn’t age.

If Armageddon were to occur tomorrow, the only thing left would be fruitcake. It would be a sea of fruitcake. You would have to elbow the fruitcake out of the way. Every fruitcake that everyone in the world has ever been hoarding would float to the surface, bobbing there like little brown pontoon boats.

Sorry. I just had to have a mini-rant.

Anyway. Once she had made them, she would store them in cake tins and every couple of days, she would take them out and paint them with rum.

Now, I’m half French. And I was raised mostly around my French relatives. And to me, and them, the whole fruitcake thing was a complete mystery. Why would you put this lurid neon fruit that you would never eat by itself for fear of contracting a dread disease, into a pan of perfectly good batter, leave it for months, douse it in rum, and then oooh and ahhh over it?

I suppose it had to be doused in rum. That was the only thing stopping it from getting up and walking out and starting its own colony.

fruit cake side view
fruit cake side view (Photo credit: Dani P.L.)

Anyhow, once it emerged from hiding, my mother would spend the rest of the holiday coaxing, cajoling and ordering people to eat it.

I mean, I know that there used to be a time when fruit had to be preserved and anything sweet, especially at Christmas, was a delicacy.

But my goodness! We aren’t eating hard tack any more, so what’s with the fruitcakes?

And those blanched nuts on top of it. Yikes! The word “blanched” says it all.

To me, a fruitcake should be made with real fruit, dried or fresh, and not that stuff that has survived a nuclear winter. And if you want to add some real nuts, that’s good, too. I’d be happy to try some fruitcake that has been made with real ingredients.

What about you? Are you a secret lover of fruitcakes? Do you feel that fruitcakes have been unfairly targeted by discriminatory forces? What is your fruitcake opinion?

I’d be delighted to hear from you.

22 thoughts on “Fruitcake, Anyone???”

  1. Okay, first of all, I confess. I’m one of those weird people who like to eat those store-bought fruitcakes with the dayglo fruit in them. I think the main reason people don’t like to eat them is because they are so super sweet.
    That said, I never knew they had to be aged or painted with rum. I’m my family’s baker. When I make fruitcake, I usually use a standard spice cake recipe, walnuts and/or pecans and several different kinds of ordinary dried fruit. I’ve never had any complaints at all, but I don’t make bucketloads of them for Christmas. It’s just too much work!

    1. Your recipe sounds good! And you’re right, many are so very – to my taste buds – unpleasantly sweet. One of the other commentators noted that his mom used suet in her cakes, something my mom also used but that I forgot about. I believe that these cakes came from a time when bakers couldn’t waste anything and when rich treats were a real rarity. My mother’s cakes were extremely heavy – a small one probably weighed 3 kilos. And yes, they are a lot of work, but yours do sound good. 🙂

  2. Oh dear – Another fruit-cake lover here (in literal and metaphorical senses!). And the more rum/brandy/sherry or other toxic liquid the better! Part of the attraction is that I can pretend to be having several of my five a day ;)|

    1. I’m really glad that you love the metaphorical fruitcakes – I do, too. 🙂 As to the real ones, well, I’d rather have my rum/brandy/sherry right out of the bottle! Why hide its natural taste with a lot of old fruit??? 🙂

  3. There are very few things that cause my gag reflex to kick in but being presented with a slice of fruitcake is one of them. MY mother took pride in her fruitcakes too and I’m not talking about her three darling sons here. She didn’t soak them in rum as I think the suet she used was enough grease, I mean moisture to keep them going forever. I don’t know how many times we found fruitcake in the cupboard that had been there as you say, tuned into hard tack. Aacch! Great post and Happy New Year.

    1. Oh yes! I forgot about the suet! My mom used that, too. As a child, I really couldn’t stand it – it was so spicy – I think she used a lot of ginger – and the sweetness from the candied fruit was so cloying. On top of that, there was the rum. As a child, my taste buds were going off like a fire alarm. As an adult I can tolerate it better, but only to be
      polite! Happy New Year to you, too, Nelson! 🙂

  4. My mom made fruitcake, too, but not way in advance and there was no aging that I remember. Nor was there painting with rum. Anyway, her fruitcake was good and everyone liked it. I have only had fruitcake once in recent decades, made by someone from my mother’s generation and it was delicious. Moist and healthy, like a super fresh energy bar. I wouldn’t choose to eat it, however, but not because it’s horrid, more because it’s so high in calories.

    1. Yes, it’s got to have one of the highest calorie counts. When I was in the army we used to get a sort of hybrid fruitcake that was just under 1000 calories for a small slice. I didn’t like to eat it – in taste it was a cross between wet sawdust and raisin bran that had gone stale. Your mom’s sounds like a real winner, though! 🙂

  5. This had me laughing out loud!!! I had never really thought about fruitcakes in this way. When you really think about it- blanched nuts and dayglo fruit- why are we even considering this a holiday treat?!? 🙂

  6. Well, I actually like our Christmas cake we have here in the UK. We top it with marzipan and then ice it and in small quantities it’s delicious, whether shop bought or homemade. We did have a version of fruit cake one year sent to us by friends in Pennsylvania which came in the most beautiful tin and which had glazed fruit and nuts on the top. When we sliced it and tried it with eager anticipation on Christmas afternoon, it was as if it had never been cooked, just solid all the way through with that neon kind of fruit you mentioned. It was the most disgusting and disappointing cake we’d ever had!

    1. I have a special palate place for marzipan! I really do love it. 🙂 And the cakes you describe sound wonderful, probably because the right ingredients are used in them. Over here, however, and particularly among the commercially made cakes, there’s not only the issue of that weird “fruit,” there’s probably 8 different kinds of chemical preservatives, a vat of petroleum-based oil additives, bag of sawdust fillers and a crow in a dead tree. All joking aside, an unfortunate, sad reality.

  7. ERMEGHERD I am laughing hard here – you are a funny bugga! Yup *nods* keep your fruit me they are in the same pontoon boat as minced tarts ewwww… I love my sugar don’t get me wrong, but yes I have a fruit cake in my freezer from last year and damn it …now it get’s thrown! 😉 xx

    1. I forgot about mince pies! They were another favourite of my mom’s and equally as gag-inducing. So sweet! But – I do have to tell you about a wonderful and simple recipe for mince “rolls” that M and I got from one of Jamie Oliver’s shows. They turned out perfectly and are very yum! I can email you the recipe if you’re interested. As to the freezer fruitcake – yup – probably time to toss it! 🙂

      1. lol yes it’s gone to the great fruitcake heaven in the sky! I shall email you the lamb recipe I completely forgot – what was I thinking! 🙂 Hmm what’s in the mince rolls? Don’t tell me fruit mince? 😉 xx

        1. Yes – fruit mince in a very thin layer over puff pastry. It added just enough sweetness. M also added dried cranberries, blueberries and chopped pecans, so the rolls were tart and crunchy, as well. I really dislike fruit mince and I was dubious about these, too, but they were fantastic. Don’t worry about the lamb recipe – just email it when you have time. Happy New Year! *Hugs*

  8. Needless to say, when I read the title my mind jumped to anyone of a number of politicians who are around these days.

    You describe the fruitcake experience perfectly. I remember my mother doing the same things with the fruitcake and making sure everyone got at least one slice of the “delicacy”. To this day, I can’t handle dried fruit.

    As you note, no one admits to eating them yet they disappear from store shelves. Sort of like after an election. No one admits they voted for the winning party but there they are!

    Have a great 2017..

    1. Oh my. Dried fruit can be a real problem. I like some of it though, like cranberries or blueberries – those that retain their tartness.

      Good comparison – they are rather like politicians! 🙂 I’m feeling rather virtuous because I gave my two cents (probably only worth one cent) on election reform. The questions were pretty loaded but I thought that for the most part, they were at least the right ones.

      Happy New Year, Nelson! Continued good health to you in 2017. 🎉

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