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Christmas fruit cake.
Christmas fruit cake. - 123RF Stock Photo

Add a splash of friendship and a dash of fun the next time you make a fruitcake

On the Bright Side

You either love them or hate them, but fruitcakes are here to stay, especially at Christmastime. I’ve been relatively neutral where fruitcake is concerned and I had never made one, even with my family history of fruitcakes: no-bake fruitcake, war fruitcake, boiled fruitcake, bottled fruitcake and the like. 

So, when the invitation came for a fruitcake-making party last August, I decided to go and figure it all out. Our hosts would provide the place and the recipe and the guests would bring one or two ingredients each. I was asked to bring currants and candied cherries, which I cut in half before the big day. Other guests brought ingredients such as candied peel, raisins, flour, brown sugar, nuts of various sorts and all of the things that make up a fruitcake. And there was rum — a lot of rum — for the cakes, of course. 

We all gathered on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, while most people were busy gardening or at the beach. The recipe was set out on the counter and a powerful mixer sat at the ready. First, we mixed all of the dried and candied fruits together and poured in copious amounts of rum before warming it all up in the microwave. 

As the afternoon wore on, with delectable scents coming from the kitchen, we sipped on our wine and sang up a storm. You could say we had a veritable fruitcake-making kitchen party. 

Meanwhile, the butter, flour and all of the other necessary ingredients were creamed in the powerful mixer. Since we were making a couple of batches at a time, the men were called in at this point to mix the batter with the boozy fruit, while someone sprinkled the mix with all the nuts.

While this was going on, parchment paper was being cut to the size of the many cake pans. Once the pans were lined with the parchment paper, they were then filled with the most wonderful smelling fruitcake batter. And they weren’t even baked yet!

Did I mention there was also a hired singer to entertain us while we worked? He sang folksy and popular songs, ones we had all heard at some time or another. When the first batch of cakes went into the oven, we all sat and listened, giving requests here and there. A couple of brave souls got up and sang with him. 

As the afternoon wore on, with delectable scents coming from the kitchen, we sipped on our wine and sang up a storm. You could say we had a veritable fruitcake-making kitchen party. 

Recipes, traditions and more in our Holidays section
Recipes, traditions and more in our Holidays section

At the end of the day, each of us went home with two fruitcakes wrapped in cheesecloth. The instructions were quite simple: every two weeks, give each cake a splash or two of rum and then cover them again. From mid-August to Christmas is about 19 weeks, so that means nine feedings for each cake. I can’t wait to taste the fruits (pun intended) of our labour. 

Our host had a cake that was made two years ago and we all had a taste. It was delicious. The rum keeps them well preserved, as it should. The day wasn’t just about making fruitcakes; it was about friendship, working on a project together and coming away with happy memories. 

Making fruitcake is an art, a meditation and tradition. During our memorable afternoon, we heard the true story of a man whose grandmother used to make fruitcakes every year. Since her passing, each Christmas he makes fruitcakes according to his grandmother’s recipe. But that’s not all. Every year, he uses her tools and pans as well. The tradition continues.

As for me, I’m looking forward to eating my fruitcakes this Christmas and sharing them with friends and family. I’m also hoping I will be invited to the next annual fruitcake-making party. 

Christine Faour grew up in Newfoundland, where she spent many Christmases with her family in Corner Brook. She has brought her memories and traditions to Nova Scotia, where she now resides with her husband, Dave. This content originally appeared in TIDINGS, a SaltWire custom publishing title.

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