Nope, fruit cake needs moisture. Lots of it.
And rum. Lots of it.
Which brings us to smell #3 on my "Top 3 Favourite Smells" list: dried fruit and nuts that spent the night bathing in a cup or so of Newfie Screech. Wicked. It also tastes good before you add it to the batter...just sayin'.
I generally bake my cake well before Christmas so I can wrap it in cheesecloth and soak it in, you guessed it...more rum. I am pretty sure Alcoholics Anonymous would not be okay with my fruit cake. It may appear to some that I see fruit cake as a vessel for rum. But I deny that!
I have heard that dark fruit cake, like wine and cheese, improves with age. We can't seem to keep it around much past Christmas so I can't provide an opinion on that topic. Sometimes, it doesn't even make it to Christmas. The past few years I baked two cakes so I could put one away for the following year. No go. We ate both of them. Me nerves. And fruit cake is as fattening as the all get out! Right from the get go!
So, I am determined that this is the year that I will successfully age some fruit cake until next Christmas.
Mom's has been made every year and requires the steeping of molasses and spices on the stove for a few hours. It makes for a very dark cake that is delish, but the steeped molasses can be a challenge when adding it to the batter; it has to be at the right temperature and if it is cooled too much it becomes pretty thick and sticky.
Mrs. Smallwood's recipe is contained in 'Fat Back and Molasses' cookbook. I tasted it from a friend of my sister's whose son is a chef and uses the recipe all the time. It was great. I made it and found it a weeeee bit over the top in the butter department. (Did I just say that? Over the top in the butter department? Sweet Jesus in the garden...a first!) I will throttle back on the butter next time.
Aunt Annie emailed me her recipe a couple of years back and I am finally going to try it this year. The fruit are boiled in this recipe, I guess resembling a boiled raisin cake but with the myriad of dried fruit that tends to be in a fruit cake. I am excited to try this one because Aunt Annie is a master cook!
Three fruit cakes. One done, two to go.
One of them has to make it past January 14th. Right?