Saturday, December 06, 2008

In defense of fruitcake

Things are getting a little bit panicky around here as Christmas approaches. For example, here was my To Do list for Saturday:

  1. Put out canned goods in special bag on front porch for St. Nicholas Day food drive in the morning

  2. Travel back in time and remember to buy extra canned goods at the grocery store for St. Nicholas day food drive on Saturday morning

  3. Rummage through pantry to find canned goods to put out for St. Nicholas Day food drive in the morning

  4. Add canned goods to shopping list because we are now out of canned goods

  5. Go to grocery store, pick up canned goods

  6. Drop girls with their father for a couple of hours

  7. Go Christmas shopping for girls in blessed, blessed solitude (well, except for the eleventy squillion other shoppers)

  8. Hit LCBO for sherry

  9. And cheap French merlot

  10. Pick up some fruitcake
I like fruitcake.

There. I said it. My name is Alison, and I like fruitcake.

I know I've just put myself into the tiny minority of the population that sees this dessert as something other than a bad joke. Maybe it's my British heritage, but one of the best things to look forward to at Christmas is a slice of rich moist fruitcake with sweet marzipan icing and a glass of sherry.

I've been blessed to know some fantastic fruitcake bakers in my time. When I lived in Toronto, there was Mike, at work, who baked a light and a dark fruitcake and would invite you to his office at Christmastime for a slice of cake and a small glass of sherry and a chat. Also during the Toronto years was David, whose cakes were soaked in enough rum and brandy that you could not legally drive after having a slice. It was the best dessert at the pot luck Christmas lunch every year if you were smart enough to like fruitcake. And a couple of years ago, Paula, the mum of one of Leah's friends, gave me a delicious fruitcake she'd baked in a mini loaf tin, just enough to last me a couple of days. It rocked.

In fact, since I've been on my own, my Christmas Eve ritual has been to put the girls to bed, and after they have fallen asleep and I've put the presents under the tree and stuffed the stockings and hung them from the mantle, I cut myself a slice or two of fruitcake, pour myself a glass of sherry, put another log on the fire, turn off all the lights except the twinkling multicoloured lights of the tree, and savour the delicious combination of flavours while I watch my favourite Christmas movie, Die Hard. (What? Not a Christmas movie, you say? It takes place on Christmas Eve, remember?)

Oh, who am I kidding. In theory that's my ritual. That's what I plan to do every year. But the cold hard truth of the matter is that once the girls are asleep, I can usually be found dragging all the presents up from the basement and I end up wrapping until 3 a.m. when I toss down a rum and eggnog and stagger off to bed for a couple of hours of sleep before the girls get up.

But on Christmas day, once the presents are open, and the girls are playing with their new toys, I'm eating fruitcake. And loving it.


  1. My mom makes a rum infused fruitcake which she makes a month or two ahead of time. It takes a 40 oz. (The cake is bundt pan size.) Every few weeks, she'll douse the cake again.

    It's delicious... if completely not kid friendly.

  2. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Pete and I consider Die Hard to be a Christmas movie too! Alas, we never watch it on Christmas Eve any more for the same reasons you don't either -- too much going on with welcoming Santa into the house and all that.

  3. Not big on the Christmas Cake, I'll have it if we're at my parents but won't bother to make my own if we are here.

  4. Haha! Well, there is nothing wrong with fruitcake! :)

    You sound just like me when it comes to packing gifts. I always plan to finish early, but packing always takes more time than I thought!

  5. My grandmother made a killer fruit cake that I guess was technically not a FRUIT cake -- she used orange slices (sliced up) as the fruit. And then she poured something delish over it to make it good and moist. I'm beyond upset that no one kept a recipe!

  6. My mother makes a Christmas steamed pudding that I enjoy with the liberal dose of hard sauce. I haven't made a fruit cake since I was eight.

    I'd love to have any fruit cake recipe (as long as it doesn't include copious amounts of raisins. Just not my favorite fruit.)

  7. i love it too. well, i think i love the icing and marzipan the most. i think i've forced myself to love it because most people recoil from, so there is not competition.
    your fantasy xmas eve sounds divine. i hope you get to do it one year.

  8. Anonymous8:07 AM

    hmmm. I don't think I've ever actually tasted fruitcake. Perhaps I should?