Fruitcake, Heirloom Recipes and Memories of Truman Capote and Cousin Sook, UNC Press 2010, $15.00 paper, 78 pages

It’s fruitcake season, and it’s about time we all participated, instead of making snide jokes about doorstops. And if I can’t convince you certainly Truman Capote can. In one of the loveliest essays ever written, A Christmas Memory, Capote recalls the seasonal rituals of his eccentric Cousin Sook, who would, every year make her fruitcakes for holiday delivery to her neighbors, always reserving one to send to President Franklin Roosevelt.

A bit of that essay is reproduced in Marie Rudisill’s book, another one of Tru’s cousins who has here assembled a selection of heirloom recipes for this much-maligned holiday treat.

And no matter what you think of fruitcake, there will be one here to tempt you–Chocolate, Civil War, Rainbow, Rum, and Flaming. Marshal your pecans, dried citron, coconut, candied orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and review Rudisill’s tips, including using the traditionally southern White Lily Flour, which has less gluten than all-purpose flour, as well as the mysteries of dousing the cakes with liquor, storing, cutting, and serving.

Rudisill has convinced me that this is worth pursuing and besides, I like the idea of storing this old fashioned dessert and damn curious about what it will taste like. It’s fruitcake season because they should rest for months, absorbing the whisky and developing their flavor.

So, here’s my pecan fruitcake, (pages 52-53), a golden batter studded with fruit, then wrapped and ready to rest until Christmas. Tune in December (just in time for Cookie Swap) to see how it’s fared.

golden and sweet

see you in December...

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5 Responses to Fruitcake

  1. Lori D. says:

    I always hated fruitcake–candied orange peel, yuck!–until I was tempted by an article in Saveur some time ago entitled “No Doorstops, Please.” The editor shared a family recipe using dried fruit instead of candied, and it was the hit of the friends I shared it with at Christmastime. It’s now become a tradition, and my eight mini-loaf pans wait patiently all year for me to pull them out just for this purpose. It’s very forgiving, tolerating dried apples for dried peaches when I can’t find them, or dried cherries for raisins just because. This book might just tempt me to expand my horizons even further!

  2. appetiteck says:

    I’ve never been a big fruitcake fan either, but try Ina Garten’s fruitcake cookies (google that phrase, you’ll find them). They are fantastic–and you can adjust the fruits to suit your taste.

  3. Sabrina DeJoannis says:

    Of course, I never knew what fruit cake was except for an insult for crazy people 🙂 Even when I was an undergrad in MA, I didn’t really encounter the horror of traditional fruit cakes (the supposedly edible kinds). Then I moved to Atlanta, got engaged to Jason and I started receiving fruit cakes in a tin! I tried it the first year and vowed never to touch it again. However, the tins kept appearing at the house with no name of the sender for us to stop him/her! Turns out (on our 3rd anniversary, I think) that Memere had been sending it to us via Jason’s youngest aunt Denise in TX. So we got mom to stop the flow of the fruit cakes. A few years ago a South African friend was getting married and the couple made their own wedding cake. It was a chocolate/molasses/ginger-y cake with lots and lots of dried fruit and it had to soak in liquor for 4 months before the wedding! It was amazing! I am going to get the recipe for you, I think you would love it.

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