Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fruit Cake

This week I received a late Christmas gift from my sister, a fruit cake.

For many years my mother baked a fruit cake each Christmas. I don't remember when the tradition started but it was some time when I was a kid, maybe before my memory begins. After I left home she began mailing a large fruit cake each year in a round metal tin. I rationed the cake and and made it last until the end of January. It became the only gift I anticipated. Shirts, ties and other material gifts I could easily buy for myself. The fruit cake was different, special, something I couldn't buy. I've had fruit cake bought at a local store. No, thank you, but not now, not ever.

My mother told me once about her first fruit cake which she baked some time after she and my father married. It was dry, hard, unpalatable, not a success. She cut an apple in half, placed it cut-side down on the cake, wrapped it in waxed paper, put it in a tin and let it set for a few weeks. In the end her father and my father ate it but she always questioned their motives. She wasn't convinced the cake was good and thought they ate it out of politeness and concern for her.

As Mom got older and ingredients became more expensive the cakes became smaller, less than half the size of the large ones. I knew there would come a time when they would stop due to her death or a serious decline in health. I think the last cake was baked with the help of my younger sister. Finally assisted living and a nursing home brought the end of the cakes.

My sister's first cake is excellent! If I did a blind taste test I would be unable to tell it from my mother's cakes. The only clue that Mom hadn't baked it was the missing pineapple rings, walnut and cherry halves decorating the top. I clearly remember them because they became a reason to over eat. Cutting to the left of a nut or cherry made the piece too small, cutting through them was unthinkable for some non-rational reason so the only solution was to cut to the right which made an over sized piece.

It's been over ten years since I have had a piece of fruit cake. It's good to enjoy it once again. Even better than the cake are the memories and the relationships with my sisters.


Blogger Buffalo said...

What an outstanding thing for your sister to do.

3/31/2011 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous alex Pendragon said...

I had no idea an edible fruit cake could be made...Kudos!

3/31/2011 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

No thanks, but you go ahead and enjoy.

3/31/2011 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Regenia said...

I FORGOT about the cherry and walnut half on top!! But I don't know if I remember there being a pineapple on my fruit cakes?!

I'll try again next year for sure. Ale liked the fruit cake very much. Trista like the applesauce cake I made for Gale. Allan liked both. And I choose the fruit cake.

I think you are right about Mom's first fruit cake....

4/05/2011 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Cara Larose said...

When I was a kid, my mother used to make this one for all of us; she was such an excellent baker! So I told myself that when I grow up, I want to be just like her too! My mom's too old to bake pastries for us, so I'm now the one who bakes fruitcakes for her!

4/06/2011 08:35:00 PM  

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