One Slice Or Two?

One Slice Or Two?

by Roger Linn

National Fruit Cake Month falls this Christmas season – light or dark, rich or sweet, iced or naked, festive feasting just wouldn’t be the same without it.

I’m never quite sure whether December has been christened National Fruit Cake Month because the cake is a traditional Christmas confection, or because in December there always seem to be more loonies on the bus than usual. However, assuming it’s the former, October might be a better choice if only because, in my house at least, that’s when the Christmas fruit cake is started by creating the glorious mixture of exotic ingredients which make up our traditional cake.

I say ‘our’ because no two fruit cakes are the same and most of their recipes are closely guarded secrets which have been passed down through generations. In fact I know one so hush hush that it contains over 20 ingredients including, muscovado sugar, dried fruits, honey, eggs, almonds, orange zest, chocolate and much, much more. Our own is a much more modest affair sometimes referred to as ‘Bung In The Oven’ cake.

When the mixture has been prepared, the children who are now hanging around the kitchen in mysteriously large numbers, are allowed one fingerful of the mixture before it is placed in the oven. If baked with love, the finished article is a perfectly cooked, aromatic and risen fruit cake awaiting only marzipan, icing and decorations.

And yet it still lacks one vital ingredient. For the next two months while the cake matures it will be pierced every couple of weeks with a kitchen skewer and liberally doused with brandy. Rum can be used as an interesting alternative, but remember only modest quantities should be employed, or your guests will start to talk funny after a couple of slices.