Contemporary

The Great Fruitcake Bake-off By Vicki Batman

Monday, December 02, 2013

Why Write about Fruitcake, Vicki?

I've heard it all from the naysayers who think fruitcake is terrible. I (said imperiously) know what you guys/gals are missing.

According to Wikipedia, here's where fruitcake came from: The earliest recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash. In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added.
Fruit cakes soon proliferated all over Europe. Recipes varied greatly in different countries throughout the ages, depending on the available ingredients as well as (in some instances) church regulations forbidding the use of butter, regarding the observance of fast. Pope Innocent VIII (1432–1492) finally granted the use of butter, in a written permission known as the 'Butter Letter' or Butterbrief in 1490, giving permission to Saxony to use milk and butter in the North German Stollen fruit cakes.
Starting in the 16th century, sugar from the American Colonies (and the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits) created an excess of candied fruit, thus making fruit cakes more affordable and popular.

For more information, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_cake

I grew up eating fruitcake and just loved it. A bakery in the state I live in is KNOWN for theirs, and I admit, it is outstanding.

So why write a funny story about fruitcake? Last year, I sat down and said, "I'm going to write a story about fruitcake," and the story came to me. And because I write funny, yeah, that was tossed in too.

See what you think from this excerpt from "The Great Fruitcake Bake-off":

"I am not entering this year." I pinned an unbreakable stare on Bethany, my long-time friend. We were piddling over coffee in her cubical like we always did before getting to the nuts and bolts of company business. "Period."

"Why not, Samantha? You should be proud to be the five-time winner of the Great Fruitcake Bake-off. You're a legend."

"Is being a legend in the fruitcake world a good thing? It's exhausting finding the perfect recipe, then bake and exhibit it. Besides, shouldn't somebody else win?"

Bethany's fists went to her hips. "Sam, we're talking fruitcake. It's not groundbreaking like, like the Declaration of Independence or...the Pyramids."

"I'm shocked to hear you say that. Fruitcake is the cake of all time. It dates to--"

She bobbed her head. "To the sixteenth century."

I raised my finger. "It gets a bad--"

"Rap." She sighed a soul searching blow of breath. "You always say that. You also always say you love participating; yet, you're not defending your title this year."

"I've used up all of Grammie's recipes."

"You could start over with the first confection you entered five years ago, couldn't you?"

"It seems like cheating...in a weird way. And I don't cheat."

"You are a shining example of excellent values." Bethany drummed her fingers from the littlest to the index and considered. "I've got it! Why not check online and find a recipe?"

"They don't call you brainchild for nothing." I rubbed a finger along the divot below my lower lip. A tiny speck of excitement blossomed within me. "I'll need a brand new fruitcake. I wouldn't want to be like Crazy Wanda who enters the same freakin' lump of dough every freakin' year."

"It never hurts to expand your repertoire, even if it's by collecting fruitcake recipes."


For those of you who are still naysayers, here's a tip: get a fruitcake and cut into squares. Buy the melting chocolate and prepare according to directions. Pour over the squares and let set until firm. Voila! You have chocolate dipped fruitcake. Tastes just like candy, too.