Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ah, Yes, Fruitcake


When I was a kid, my mom baked a big and a small fruitcake at Thanksgiving. The small one we ate immediately. The big one she dribbled with either wine or grape juice, wrapped it in cloth, put it into a green cake tin, and stored it in the pie safe on the porch. I can’t tell you how eagerly we awaited the cutting of the Christmas fruitcake. Only Aunt Myrth’s coconut cream pie could compete with fruitcake as the most treasured dessert.

To this day, I become emotional about fruitcake, and it always tastes wonderful to me, regardless of the variations in the recipe, well almost. One year I made one using mincemeat as an ingredient, and it didn’t turn out so well. In fact, I was baking it in Chicago when my mother called from South Carolina with the news my father had died suddenly of a heart attack. His death wasn’t unexpected—he’d had a number of heart attacks. In fact he told my mother several days previously that he felt like he was going to have an attack, and he knew it would be his last one.

I’ve baked fruitcake through the years for my family but without conferring on them the high regard I have for it. This year I subjected my son and his family to left-over cake from last Christmas. As usual, I ate more of it than anybody else. Every year I swear I’ll never bake another one. Maybe 2012 is the year to dig out Aunt Myrth's coconut pie recipe.

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