A couple of weeks ago, my oldest boy said something to the affect of, "Hey mom, why would anyone give fruit cake as a present when EVERYONE knows that it's disgusting?"
A teachable moment if ever there was one.
I have wonderful memories of receiving a great big brown box in the mail each Christmas from on old family friend. It was always stuffed full with little newspaper comic-wrapped packages for each member of the family and one perfect little foil covered homemade fruit cake. I don't remember a single gift that I ever received from those boxes, but I DO remember, oh so fondly, the fruit cake. I remember sneaking into the fridge to peel back that foil for just one more scrumptious bite. I remember trying to divide the last wee bit into infinitely smaller and smaller pieces to make it last as long as possible.
It was, hands down, one of my all time favorite holiday treats.
It is a crying shame really, a travesty, that fruit cake has gotten such a bad reputation when it really is so truly delectable.
So, I spoke with my mom, we dug up the recipe, and we spent a day in the kitchen.
54 eggs whites, 2 pounds of butter, 24 cups of fruits, nuts and coconut, and a mile high mound of dishes later,... and we are now prepared to change the way the world (or at least our friends and neighbors) think about fruit cake.
Yes we can!
And what does the boy now say about fruit cake?
One taste and he declared, "Oh my gosh, we should make these every year!"
So, friends, if you have never had a truly delicious fruit cake, or if you remember them from long ago and agree that the world should come to know and love this tasty little treat, then you must, you simply must, make some up and help us to spread the good news... fruit cake is delicious, and so worthy of its rightful place at the holiday table!
Here's what to do:
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (softened to room temp.)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
3 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 egg whites beaten to soft peaks
1 cup candied cherries (chopped)
1 cup candied pineapple (chopped) *
2 cups nuts (we use pecans... of course)
2 cups sweetened coconut
Preheat the oven to 250. Cream together the butter and sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour and the milk alternately to the butter/sugar mixture. Fold in the eggs. Add the nuts, coconut and fruits.
Poor into greased loaf pans (fill them just over half full) and bake at 250 for an hour and a half to two hours. They will get just ever so slightly golden around the edges, but should not brown. You will know they are done when you can press your finger lightly into the cakes near the edge and they pull back from the pan.
Allow them to cool completely before wrapping them in foil.
Now here's the hard part. Let them sit for a day, or even two or three, in the fridge, before eating. They're best cold and well rested :-)
Each recipe makes four large (or about 7 small) loaves.
* you can substitute the 1 cup of cherries and 1 cup of pineapple for 2 cups of "fruit cake mix" dried fruit