A columnist attributes what he calls our “national obsession with hating fruitcake” to Johnny Carson, who once said there is really only one fruitcake. It just keeps getting passed around. On a web page devoted to why we hate fruitcake, a reader wrote that she thought it was made by a bored grandma who baked all day and just threw her leftovers into a pan and baked it. Still another voice suggested it is a holiday decoration and was never meant to be eaten.
The truth is that a lot of people secretly like fruitcake, but it’s one of those things you hesitate about admitting out loud.
When I was a kid, my physician-father had a patient who baked his cakes in late summer and wrapped them in bourbon-soaked cloths. Periodically, he “refreshed” the cloths. By the time we got the cake it was dark, rich, and very bourbon-y. I remember liking it a lot. Perhaps that’s why when my physician-ex-husband brought home fruitcake gifts, I didn’t hesitate to serve it to various groups of ladies who met at our house. And, yes, I had a stash in the freezer. But that was in the sixties, and fruitcake’s reputation has gone downhill ever since.
There may be several valid reasons people don’t like fruitcake: they’ve always had store-bought, never a good homemade one. It is too dense and sticky for some—there are complaints of it sticking to teeth. It can be labor intensive to make. Some people—my kids, in particular—don’t like English candied fruit.
I’m going to do something I swore I’d not do—share a recipe I’ve not tried. I haven’t tried it, because no one in my family will eat it. But I have it on good authority that this is delicious. It’s a three-ingredient fruitcake. I got it from a website about all things Scottish, though I don’t think this is native to Scotland. A good friend assured me it’s delicious.
Recipes for three-ingredient fruitcakes abound on the web—dried fruit, flour, and liquid. Surfing the web, I found recipes that called for orange juice, tea, coffee—but the one I liked uses chocolate milk.
4-1/4 cups dried mixed fruit
3 cups chocolate milk
2 cups self-rising flour
Put the fruit in a bowl, pour the chocolate milk over it, and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, heat toaster oven to 350o F. Line a 9” square baking pan with parchment paper. Stir flour into the soaked fruit. Bake 2-1/2 hours. Test by inserting a skewer or silver knife into the center. Check frequently to make sure top isn’t burning. If it is getting too brown, cover with a square of brown paper.
Want a round cake? Use an 8” round pan.
Decorate top of warm cake with extra glace cherries if you wish.
This is so rich you’ll only want to serve tiny pieces, so one cake will serve a lot of people. (Somewhere I read 30 servings, but I can’t quite believe that.) If you try it, save me a piece—I really want to taste it.