Saturday, December 23, 2006

The four fruitcakes so far...

If you are not a fruitcake fan you can skip this post all together. Which might be 90% of America, led astray by Johnny Carson several decades ago.

But. If you are appreciative of good fruitcake, ya gotta hand it to the Trappists.

And to Grandma. My Grandma (on Dad's side, born in London) made a kind of fruitcake without nuts, more cake-like than a standard American fruitcake, and very similar to something described at Mondo Fruitcake. It also had a hard white icing, though I would have remembered a thin layer of marizipan beneath. The fruits may not have been so finely chopped, but otherwise it sounds and looks quite similar. Absolutely delicious.

This year, I plainly went off my rocker and bought four (4) fruitcakes for those who live in and visit Castell Skookumchuk, ranked as follows in comparison to Grandma's using an utterly arbitrary percentage rating system:

1. Grandma's English Christmas Cake - 100%. Only remembered, the recipe lost. The gold standard.
2. Assumption Abbey - 95%. Rich, fruity, honey and rum flavors. Right behind Grandma, here.
3. Collins Street Apricot and Pecan Cake - 90%. I could eat a whole bowl of pecans - which seemed to be in abundance around Christmas as a kid - or a whole bowl of apricots, so to find them in combination was pretty good, boosting the ranking of an otherwise only better than average fruitcake.
4. Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey - 90%. Good, dense fruitcake, brandy-soaked, heavy on the raisins and the walnuts, made by the monks in Yamhill, Oregon. Would probably be tied with Assumption Abbey were my apricot infatuation not a factor. Thank you St. Benedict. If not for the celibacy thing and getting up at 3:30AM for Mass followed by work, I might be tempted to drive the three hours to Yamhill to convert and enlist.
5. Collins Street DeLuxe Fruit Cake - 85%. OK, so it is made with a host of artificial ingredients. Who cares?

Only a faint, relict sense of moderation kept me from ordering more for further research, especially:

- Gethsemani Farms, in the middle of Kentucky.
- Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA.

Maybe next year. Makes me want to sing Monteverdi's Christmas Vespers just thinking about it, even though I'm tone deaf and don't know Latin.

Merry Christmas.


chuck said...

I've developed a taste for fruitcake slathered with butter. This is new for me and is undoubtedly a sign of advanced age.

buddy larsen said...

You know, me too--it's the dryness that makes the thing slightly less than wonderfully palatable. Pour that butter on, melt it in even, and, dangit, it's GOOD.

vnjagvet said...

Mom's magic fruitcake secret:

Take brandy, rum or bourbon, soak a dishtowel with same (this takes about one cup), wrap fruit cake in soaked dishtowel, put in cake tin with tight top.

Repeat soaking daily for one week.

Begin eating fruitcake. Continue soaking until fruitcake gone.

With each serving of fruitcake have on hand one large glass of very cold fat free or 2% milk to sip after each bite.

MMMMMMMMMM. This makes any fruitcake a good fruitcake.

Especially those grading over 80% on Skook's scale.

Anonymous said...

Butter is good.

Grandma's recipe also involved rum and cheesecloth I believe instead of the dishtowel.

Butter and booze. A winning combo any way you look at it.

chuck said...

Given the title of the post, I figure there better be at least five comments.

Anonymous said...

Actually, since I'm up early and eating a slice of the apricot pecan fruitcake as a sort of pre-breakfast, there will be six comments.

vnjagvet said...

A wee bit of milk punch would help the fruitcake go down tomorrow morning.

1 cup milk, 2 ounces bourbon, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream, 1 pack Splenda (or 2 tsp sugar), 1 tsp vanilla extract, dash fresh grated nutmeg.

Anonymous said...

Milk punch, hmmmm. I think we've got all the ingredients, too.

vnjagvet said...


That recipe (an old fraternity hangover "hair of the dog" remedy from well over 50 years ago)is for one serving which fits in an old fashion glass or a jefferson cup. It can be made lo-fat with skim milk and lofat icecream or frozen yogurt as a substitute.

I generally make it in 1-2 quart "batches", since my daughters and their spouses and significant others all like it and they are now "legal" at ages 25-30.

They like it better than eggnog.

Great with or without fruitcake!!!!