My dad being a big fan of fruitcake, I've tasted my fair share. Every Christmas I have a little slice, wondering if this will be the year my palate changes its mind. I did after all use to hate all sorts of things as a child that I now love: butter, eggplant, ice cream that doesn't contain chocolate.
Now, I think I've given fruitcake enough of a chance that I may be permitted to state my disapproval. First of all, those ever-present red and green maraschino cherries really disturb me, not to mention make my tongue instantly curl up in a saccharine-induced kind of seizure. Second, the term "slice" of fruitcake is ridiculous, since what follows the downward motion of the knife is reminiscent of a dried fruit landslide as everything sort of crumbles and scatters all over the place. What is the point of all that labor, chopping and baking and basting for months, if the result is a mouthful of boozed up raisins tenuously held together with a bit of dark spackle?
I didn't start this post merely to lambast the poor fruitcake, however. I think it has been sorely misrepresented for too long. Although I've never tasted good fruitcake, I believe it has the potential to be something...dare I say, yummy? Consider the concept: dark spicy cake studded with fruits and peels, aged for months, and saturated in liquor. When it comes to baking, there's nothing as alluring to me as a troublesome, time-consuming recipe--hence my love of sourdough bread baking, which definitely requires patience. And this fruitcake-making thing sounds like a bloody nuisance. Perfect.
And so I now embark on a quest: to create palatable, no, yummy fruitcake. I'll try to challenge the recipes and go a little easier on the nuts and dried fruit, and there'll be no jujubes or glace cherries winking from my cake like misplaced Christmas lights. Also, I've decided to milk this fiddly endeavor for all it's worth--infusing my liquor with tea, candying my own nuts and peels, soaking the fruit in liquor for a month first, and I think I will let the cake age until next Christmas, seeing as it is practically November now. What I really would love is to make a fruitcake with my sourdough starter, but I can't find a satisfactory recipe (there seems to be only one on the entire world wide web), and considering I might quite possibly collapse in utter despair if an entire year's worth of waiting for my own fruitcake comes to something gross, I will not take that risk.
I'm taking my time on this one. I do have an entire year, after all. Every so often, I'll complete another small step. I don't think I'll actually bake the cake until next month. I promise to keep you all updated. Exciting, eh? Hello? Hello?
Oh, come. This will be fun! And maybe at the end of this project, I'll have something that will change my mind about fruitcakes. And, perhaps, yours as well? My husband's eyes are already rolling with fear, but if anyone wants to try some next year, I will be most happy to share. Or, better yet, does anyone want to join me in my fruitcake odyssey? We could do the same recipe or do different ones. Doesn't matter. Could even keep each other updated and offer advice, such as what to do if one's fruitcake is developing an unattractive bloom of green fur. Mwaha, nonsense, of course!
Perhaps someone else could try what is called a white fruitcake, which uses clear liquors, pale fruit, and presumably no spices--lighter and prettier, I guess. Ummm, tempting.
Promise to keep y'all updated! Oh, stop that moaning.