2017-12-13 / Editorials

It’s fruitcake season

All That’s Fit to Print

I have a friend who probably cheered when he saw the first storebought fruitcake in the grocery store. We never had those growing up. My mama was an expert fruitcake maker.

Although the whole fruitcake baking process — start to finish — only lasted a couple days, it seemed like two weeks.

My mother chopped up candied fruit and dates and pecans and mixed them with raisins.

We always asked if the citrons growing wild in the field were the same thing chopped up for the cake and why couldn’t we candy it ourselves.

She just looked at us every year with the Look.

We picked up our own pecans. It was cold and the old women would put on every garment they owned and also their husbands khaki work pants under their dresses. My mother would shell the nuts and slice them across.

The cake batter was full of butter and eggs and other things I can’t name because I never paid attention when Mama was actually putting things in the bowl.

Right now, a McCormick commercial is on TV, and probably, I remember seeing those old McCormick spice cans on my mama’s on counter, lined up like little soldiers waiting to hear their name called.

When the batter was done, she floured the nuts and fruits and stirred them into the batter. You flour them so they won’t sink to the bottom of the cake.

The cake was baked in a giant tube cake pan. I think the pan was greased and floured. Mama probably cut a circle of waxed paper, greased or butter it on both sides, and then she poured the batter in the pan. Maybe.

I can’t remember how long that cake was in the oven. We had to be quiet and not jump around. It was kind of like being in a lightning and thunderstorm, but Mama didn’t mention God wanted to us sit on the sofa and be quiet.

Mama peeked at the cake once or twice. She was an expert at when to peek and when not to peek. She wasn’t a handwringer, but if she was she would do it over the fruitcake.

When she took it out of the oven, it smelled up the whole house. It smelled like a hug.

While the cake cooled off, she prepared the cake’s shroud. It was clean and, hopefully, new cotton gauze baby diaper soaked in homemade scuppernong wine. When the cake was cool, she wrapped the cake in the shroud. She filled a shot glass with wine and put that in the center hole of the cake. Then she put everything in a tin can with a lid and hid it in a closet.

We never saw the cake again until the Christmas season. The cake was pulled out of the tin and unwrapped. There was oohing and awing. It was beautiful.

She cut thin slices and anybody who did not appreciate fruitcake did not get a plate. I was grown before I got a plate. I wish I had one now.

Have a good week.

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