December 17 of 31 December-ish posts
First, before you read any further and must feel that crushing disappointment of yet another recipe blog that doesn’t seem to put the recipes at the top of the page, while you scroll to the bottom and try to find something resembling an ingredient list, let me be honest and up front: if you’re here looking for a fruitcake recipe, there isn’t one.
I often post recipes. This is not a recipe, this is:
… something I should have cooked in 2022, but didn’t.
You know fruitcake.
Cake. Fruit. But somehow both and neither at the same time.
The cake that is more of a dense loaf full of what should be healthy ingredients but is masked in sugar and spices and alcohol to the point that no is even sure if they should hate it or love it or mock it for the curious monstrosity that it is. Booze-soaked gluten gluing together colourful lumps of sweet, sticky globules that may be candied nuts or sugary, dried fruits, or mystery orbs summoned from the Christmas dimension to haunt our dreams.
I love weird things, though, and I especially love weird foods. A well-made fruitcake is weird and wonderful and a baking curiosity that often defies logic, reason, and sensible palates.
I have never made a fruitcake.
And it seems like it is one of those deserts where there is really only a short window, sometime around Halloween or early November, when bakers should be thinking about fruitcakes that might be needed for the holiday season, when fruitcakes will be tolerated in small doses for the holiday season, and outside of that short window fruitcakes are just not done.
I thought about making a fruitcake in mid-November. We had just come back from New York and I was pondering my next bit of time off around the holidays and thinking I would like to break out the cookie recipe book and get some serious baking done. Fruitcake popped into my head, because while I do admit fruitcake is not everyone’s jam, if you’ve tried good fruitcake you understand how this concoction has survived the eons of time since that first batch of fruitcake was made… some of which may still survive in your grandparent’s holiday stash.
I thought about making a fruitcake in mid-November, and then I went to the grocery store with a list. Yes, I made it as far as the market with an actual recipe that I’d researched online, suffering through hours of endless recipe scrolling, reading heartfelt, keyword-stuffed stories of precious family Christmas memories vaguely connected to the recipe hidden at the bottom of the page. I found a recipe that had ingredients I thought looked like something I could both find at my local grocery market and which collected together resembled a fruitcake I would enjoy.
I thought about making a fruitcake in mid-November, but then pricing out the ingredients in the store gave me some serious pause. Pause. As in pause, put down the bag of dried apricots and step back slowly and carefully from the merchandise. I mean, we keep a well-stocked kitchen, but the collection of fruits, spices, nuts and booze that I needed for this recipe was creeping up well into the triple digits at the cash register.
For my international readers, some comparisons: locally a 10kg bag of flour is worth about $15 right now, a liter of rum is worth about $30, and a week’s worth of groceries for a modest family of three averages at about $200. My fruitcake was going to set me back over $150 in ingredients. Y’know, like almost a week’s worth of groceries for cake ingredients … and all this for a cake that most everyone was likely going to turn up their noses because of it’s reputation. (You know what I’m talking about.)
I thought about making a fruitcake in mid-November, but I didn’t.
To that end, if you have read through this sad-sack story of fruitcake or merely speed-scrolled to the bottom looking for a recipe here’s the rub: I neither made a cake, nor saved the recipe, nor do I have a happy ending to this tale. I just didn’t do fruitcake in 2022.
Maybe that’s a good thing.
Maybe that one time I had great fruitcake will forever be a magical, weirdo memory untarnished in my mind.
Maybe I would have crushed fruitcake, or maybe fruitcake would have crushed me.
This will not be the year I figure that out.
All that said, next year in 2023 when mid-November rolls around again there is one post I would like to scroll to the bottom of and find a great fruitcake recipe. This one? Maybe? Maybe you have a recipe you can post or link to in the comments. Maybe this could be an amazing fruitcake recipe page afterall? And like all those terrible recipe blogs, we can keep it hidden at the bottom of the page, tucked into the comments for someone to find after scrolling right to the end of the heartfelt story. Maybe.