Saturday, December 03, 2011

Grandma Lila's Fruitcake

Merry Christmas! This fruitcake recipe is the one our Grandma Lila used for years. It is famous/infamous enough to be mentioned in the eulogy at her funeral service.  I have "embellished" it with my own observations and experiences.

1 lb. dates (I sometimes use less)
1 lb raisins (Again, sometimes I cut back on these)
1/2 lb candied citron (I usually use more)
1/2 to 1 cup brandy, rum, or other liquor (Grandma sometimes used more.)
1 cup/2 sticks REAL butter (none of that low fat healthy soy fake good-for-you crap -- Grandma was Paula Deen before Paula Deen was Paula Deen)
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 (4) eggs (the recipe calls for 4 - Use 4.  You need 5 because by the time you are done with the brandy or rum you will drop one of the eggs and you'll only have 4 left anyway.)
1 Tbs milk (this is what makes the fruitcake healthy)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda (the stuff you use with vinegar to make volcanoes)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger

Step 1 Procure the unmentionables. (The way Grandma did it) A good Christian woman will send a male relative to the liquor store to buy the brandy or rum while you sit and wait in the car in the parking lot, or better still, parked around the corner, so no one sees you buying it!

Step 2 Prepare the fruit.  Soak fruit in half of the liquor overnight.  This is to "plump it up."  No other reason.  Follow the recipe.  Don't judge.

Step 3 Get ready.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees. That is not a typo - you want these to bake slow so that they are moist on their own... but then we're fixin' to pour liquor all over them to moisten them, too, so - whatever.  (I do like to think that this is roughly the temperature of an Easy-Bake Oven, thus taking me back to my childhood, when unsafe burning hazard toys like light-bulb powered cooking appliances were perfectly acceptable gifts to give to small children!)  Grease and flour loaf pans or bundt pan. Or even a sawed off cleaned out Folger's can (The way Grandma did it.) Put on an apron now that you've spilled flour all over your black holiday sweater and stupidly wiped it trying to get it off, since you just weren't thinking clearly because you were "tasting" the soaked fruit.

Step 4 Make and bake.  Cream butter and sugar in a big ol' Mixmaster. Beat in eggs and milk. Sift flour, soda, and spices and stir into fruit. Add fruit to creamed mixture. Pour into prepared pans and decorate the tops with candied cherries and pecan halves. Then bake 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours depending on size of pans and/or cans. This is enough time to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street" AND "Wheel of Fortune."

Step 5 Liquid Decoration.  (Optional, but it IS the way Grandma made it): Splash what might be left of the rum or brandy over fruitcake after baking and wrap in foil for a few days before serving.  Store in a dark corner of the cupboard to aid in the "moistening" process.  Hide one of them for yourself. 

Step 6 Serve.  Ignore the comments about the fumes when the foil is opened.  The family members who are under 21 will eat it anyway because they can get inebriated and no one will bat an eye because it occurred under the guise of consuming fine holiday fare....the male family members over 21 will eat it anyway because it is the only way they are going to get any of that rum that they had to buy...the female family members over 21 will eat it because, let's face it, before the advent of Prozac, Grandma Lila's fruitcake was the only way you could manage to get through the holidays with even a shred of sanity intact!

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