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Time to Make The Fruitcake (No Jokes, Please)

Ready, set, bake. Nine weeks out is the perfect time to start baking Christmas fruitcakes.

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So I turned the page on my pocket calendar this week and there it was in red letters: Fruitcake. Yes, I realize it’s not even Halloween, and that writing myself a reminder to make Christmas fruitcake might be a tad, well, nutty, but that’s the way I get with recipes—obsessed. Over the years, I’ve spent weeks repeatedly making and tweaking recipes for cinnamon rolls, brownies, roast chicken, until I’ve nailed the perfect (to my taste, at least) flavor and technique.

Fruitcake has been my holy grail in recent years. Partly it is my love of the dense, alcohol-soaked, fruit-and-nut packed loafs, partly that my husband loves fruitcake as well (every baker appreciates a grateful eater) and partly my attempt to single-handedly rescue this much-maligned traditional treat from ridicule. Everyone jokes about fruitcake, usually along the lines of “Fruitcake is horrible.” (I realize that’s not even a joke, but the word “fruitcake” is in itself a punchline. This shows how things have degenerated.) When exactly did fruitcake become equivalent to getting coal in your stocking?

So I collect every fruitcake recipe I come across and pull elements I like from each. But what always trips me up is the preparation. Although recipes differ in spices, type of fruit, and shape, all seem to agree that fruitcake, like fine wine, gets better with age.

So this year, I’m starting 9 weeks out. (Check my math if you want, but that is indeed how close Christmas is.) I’m going to soak the dried fruit in bourbon for a week, then bake the cakes (you can never make just one fruitcake) and tuck them away in a cool place until Christmas.

Anyone else out there already started holiday baking?

 

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  • cwallach | 10/28/2009

    Recipe? Please. Bourbon, nuts, and ...

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