As the Christmas season approaches, I can’t help but think about my grandmother and my mother’s fruitcake recipes. Totally different in looks and taste, but both very much a tradition in our family.
They both are passed away now, but the memories of Christmas traditions will remain with me forever……sort of like that fruitcake that you hate)))
My grandmother’s cake….I wish I had a photo to share with you. The cake baking process started several days, probably about a week before Christmas. Her grocery list included the basic cake ingredients, but also candied cherries….red and green, candied pineapple…red, green and yellow…candied citron whatever that was…I really never knew. And raisins……regular and yellow…and currants. Not to mention the pecans and walnuts.
If a grocery store was out of one of the candied fruits, panic would set in. Once we grandchildren were older, or away from home and married, she would call us…..pick me up some green cherries! I have to have some green cherries!
Mama (which is what we called our grandmother) would bake the cake layers and use a lot spice in the batter along with the nuts and some of the candied fruit. The icing that went between the layers and on top was more like a thickened glaze with grated orange rind and coconut.
More of the candied fruits and nuts (these nuts had to be nice half pieces) were used for decoration on top. She had a glass cake plate that had a metal cover.
This cake plate and cover isn’t my grandmother’s but it looks just like it. Except for an occasional dent here and there.
The cake was heavy! It would sit on top of her freezer waiting patiently for the Christmas feast. In our case, it was the noon meal on Christmas Eve.
Once everybody had eaten their fill of turkey, ham, dressing, fruit salad and all the trimmings…..out would come the cake….and people would just start drawing up……. My grandmother would make sure everyone, I mean EVERYONE had a piece or just a bite of her fruitcake……there would be no rest until everyone had tasted it.
I don’t know anyone who liked it. I think it was the spice…..or maybe the grated orange peel. Or maybe it just was that we would be too stuffed from the lunch to eat anything else. Actually it was much more palatable several days after Christmas when the rest of the goodies were gone, and you were down to that last Christmas delicacy……..Mama’s fruitcake.
Now Mother’s fruitcake…..was a fruitcake all together different. She made her fruitcake out of crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers, pecans, raisins, maraschino cherries…..and it was all held together with melted marshmallows or marshmallow cream. What’s not to like about that cake!
She would crush up the graham crackers, carefully saving the box. Everything would be dumped into a big bowl and the melted marshmallows poured over the ingredients. She would take her hands and work this all together then pack the cake back into the graham cracker boxes that had been lined with wax paper. The cake would go in the refrigerator and she would have to run us out of the kitchen. We wanted a piece of her fruitcake before it could even set up!
It wasn’t like a fruitcake competition or anything……but there were always two fruitcakes for Christmas! My mother would bring hers in unannounced, neat little squares of goodness, just sitting quietly over there somewhere with the other desserts.
The lunch was always at my grandmother’s house and when she would bring out her fruitcake everyone would admire it, take a bite and comment on it. Then before they left the kitchen, they would go buy and pick up a piece of Mother’s no bake fruitcake and gobble it down licking their fingers.
As we children grew older and left home….my mother would make several of her cakes and pull one out of the frig for you to take home. I don’t think there was ever a bite wasted of her fruitcakes….not at my house anyway.
One year I decided to make my own no-bake fruitcake with her recipe….but I thought I had a great idea of packing it into empty Pringles cans……figured I could slice it off in neat little cake rounds…..what a nice touch. Well…need I say more…..I wound up having to cut the cans OFF that cake….neat it was not))
Now that I’m older and have baked a few cakes myself…..I understand how my grandmother must have felt and why she wanted everyone to have a bite of her cake. That was HARD WORK and one needs to be appreciated for that kind of effort.
I wish I had a copy of her recipe….I would bake that cake myself…..and make EVERYONE eat it))))