From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Just in time for the holidays: Fruitcake (itís more than a doorstop)

by Sierra Lawrence, for the Inland Register

(From the Nov. 14, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

Ever wonder where fruitcake comes from? Legend has it that fruitcakes were first made in Rome, and were originally made with seeds. Later, honey and fruits were used to sweeten the cakes.

Another story says that Crusaders carried fruitcakes with them to sustain them on their long journeys to the Holy Land. During the 1700s in Europe, cakes were made with nuts, too, and used to commemorate the harvest. The cake was saved until the next harvest, and it was hoped that it would bring another successful harvest. In late 18th century England, there were laws restricting the consumption of ďplumĒ cake to Christmas, Easter and other sacramental occasions. Nowadays, fruitcakes are usually only associated with Christmas.

I have a confession to make: Yes, folks, I eat fruitcake! Honestly, my great-grandmotherís fruitcake is rather tasty. I have early memories of Christmas spent watching my Nana make hard sauce to go with the fruitcake she made. I also recall pondering that something hard canít really be a sauce, since itís, well, hard. My great-grandmother passed away about six years ago at age 93. Luckily, my grandmother still makes Nanaís fruitcake, and thus I was able to pass this time-tested recipe on to you, as my gift. After all, isnít that what people do with fruitcakes - pass them on? Except you will only have the recipe to share, since you will have actually eaten the fruitcake. Guess you will have to find something else to hold your door open.

Nanaís Excellent Dark Fruitcake

1/2 cup sherry
2 cups pecans
2 cups walnuts
2 lbs. raisins
1 lb. currants
1 1/2 lbs. chopped, mixed dried fruit, including dates, lemon peel, orange peel, cherries, pineapples, etc. (found at the store in bags)
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice

1. In a very large bowl, mix the sherry with the nuts, raisins, currants, and dried fruit mix. If you wish, let it soak overnight for better results. (My Nana recommends soaking the fruit in brandy for several days to improve the flavor even more.)

2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a large tube pan (or many small bread pans) and line with brown paper. Then put greased waxed paper on top of the brown paper.

3. In a separate bowl, cream butter until light, add sugar gradually, and continue creaming until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Mix spices, baking powder and salt into sifted flour, and add flour a small amount at a time into egg mixture. Add flour/egg mixture into dried fruit, mixing well. The mixture will be very stiff.

5. Place a roasting pan half full of hot water on the bottom rack of preheated oven. Spoon mixture into tube pan and bake on center rack at 250 degrees for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Cake is done when sides pull away from edges of pan. Carefully turn out from pan, removing papers. Cool slightly, about 1 hour, and wrap in cheesecloth and aluminum foil. Keep well wrapped in fridge about 3 weeks, and add about 3 tablespoons brandy, every three weeks or so. You can continue this as long as it takes to finish eating the fruitcake, up to one year.

(Got a favorite seasonal recipe to share? Write or e-mail Sierra Lawrence, c/o Inland Register, P.O. Box 48, Spokane, WA 99210-0048.)

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