Thursday, December 03, 2009

It's all about the fruitcake

It's not very Christmassy out today. Far from it. It's raining out today. Raining! This is so not the status quo for Ottawa in December. In fact it's hard to get in the Christmas spirit when the day looks more like it belongs in a rather inclement October.

But Dani over at Postcards from the Mothership is hosting a Loblaws Christmas giveaway of some amazing President's Choice products just in time for holiday entertaining. Pop over and check it out. (After you read my blog, of course.)

She asks the question, "What's one treat you look forward to during the holiday season?"

For me, it's all about the fruitcake. I love fruitcake. Hey, I even blogged about it last year. And it seems apropos to post it again.


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. I make a wonderful dark fruitcake -- at least, I think it's wonderful. It's quite addictive (of course, perhaps it's not the cake but the Port, which is my drink of choice with the cake)!
    This year I made my cakes at the end of September, and they've been carefully fed brandy every couple of weeks since then. Should be "lightable" by Christmas!

  2. I can't do fruitcake. Or Christmas pudding. I wish I liked it....

  3. Jo - I will eat dark fruitcake too, especially one that's been fed brandy. If there are any leftovers, maybe a piece could find its way into your luggage next time you come up for the DITA mapping meeting? Maybe?

    Badness - that's too bad. But, more for meeee!!!! (Sorry, was that rude?)

  4. I was thinking the same thing. If everyone's not feeling too roly poly after Christmas, a bit of fruitcake might liven up our meeting! Of course, if no one else likes it....

  5. You must have a different kind of fruitcake up there in the Great White (Wet?) North. Down here, the stuff is inedible, whether it's homemade or store bought, cheap or expensive.

    We used to watch "Die Hard" every Christmas Eve. Then we had the girls and now there's never enough time.

  6. Hi I'm BB and I'M a also a fruitcake... sounds like an AA meeting. Once I get started I just have to have one more slice, just one more teeny slice.

  7. My mom used to make a light and a dark fruitcake every year, but I was the only one who ever ate them so she gave it up. I miss them, though -- especially that dark one. Mmmm.

    We watch Die Hard every year on Christmas Eve! We're soul sisters :).

  8. Hmm. I tend to like my fruit and my cake separately. Sweet marzipan icing sounds like something I could get behind, though. And I've been rocking the wrapping-til-3-a.m.-Christmas Eve thing too, until this year -- I've wrapped every godddamned present the goddamned same day I buy it, with stupid rain falling instead of the stupid snow that isn't falling. Merry damned December. (Sorry. I just got my daughter's ears pierced for the second time, and I have a stupid rainy-November headache).

  9. And I always thought Canada was a civilised country! I can't believe good fruitcake isn't available on every street corner...well at least in every supermarket!

  10. BB there is my big brother. BB loves fruitcake, as do my mom and my sister. I'm the only one in the family who hates the stuff.

  11. Jo - if no one else likes it, then we can feast!

    Jen - I've never eaten fruitcake south of the border, but you can buy quite nice ones here in the grocery store, though they don't compare to really good home-made ones.

    Big Brother - It's SO NICE to meet another addict, er, fruitcake lover. I'm secretly kind of glad that people like us are so rare, there's more for us!!

    Lynn - We ARE soul sisters! We really must meet sometime. And eat fruitcake. I was so sad to miss Blog Out Loud and a chance to meet you in person.

    Biblio - Yeah, I'm trying to do the wrap as you go thing this year. I really am. Wish me luck.

    UK Jen - You CAN get good fruitcake in Canada. We are a well behaved Commonwealth country with good, or at least acceptable, fruitcake avaiable in grocery stores. You might be confusing us with our neighbours to the south where US Jen says the fruitcake is inedible.

    Jazz - I'll bet your mom wishes your brother was more like you so she'd have more fruitcake to eat herself.

  12. I love fruitcake and have an amazing recipe from my Grandma. I make it in mini loaf pans too because a little goes a long way when I give it away.

  13. Natalie11:31 AM

    Ahem...Jo, if you're listening...I may not be invited to the DITA meeting, but feel free to drop off some well-imbibed fruitcake in my office on the way in! I make wonderful inebriated fruitcake too, by the way, but so far this year I haven't had the inspiration. But I promise that when I make more, I will share.

  14. you just made me feel warm and fuzzy. thanks!

  15. I like fruitcake too, as long as it is boozy and not too dark. My guilty pleasure at Christmas though is brussels sprouts. I love sprouts, the rest of my family hate them and Christmas is the only time I am allowed to have them. It's the LAW. You have to have sprouts at Christmas.

  16. Sarah - yes, the mini loaf tin is a genius idea.

    Natalie - If Jo and I leave you any, we'll drop it off in your office. Please have some sherry or port waiting. :-)

    Meanie -- you're welcome! Warm and fuzzy is a good thing to feel at this time of year.

    Loth - I wrote you a response, but it's much too long, so I'm posting it to your FB instead.

  17. I am now cravng fruitcake. To me, fruitcake IS Christmas. Can't have one without the other. Love some with marzipan on if poss. but if not, I'll eat it anyway.
    off to the shops