While many people think that fruitcake is disgusting, that is because they have been eating the tripe made in a grocery store- or the kind with that sticky, food-coloring soaked, preserved fruit that looks like gummi worms. Talk about gilding a lily.
Real fruitcake, the good stuff, is delicious. It’s baked low and slow, it’s more fruit than batter, and best of all: it’s soaked in alcohol. I have a mister filled with apple brandy and Maker’s Mark that I use to mist the cake daily. For even more infusion, place a shot glass in the hole in the middle of the cake and fill it with bourbon. As with all recipes using alcohol, don’t use the cheap stuff: if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. Now, I’m not using my George T. Stagg in the cake, but Maker’s is a decent whiskey that I drink on the rocks. Here’s a picture of the fruitcake we made for our dad.
As for the recipe, it’s a family recipe. My father had a fruitcake made by my grandfather Maxey that lasted for years with proper preservation. My sister and I lamented that the recipe was gone forever. Then, for my sister’s bridal shower, our aunt gave her one of my grandmother’s cookbooks that had been unused for 15 years. My sister was very excited just to have the cookbook. Then, while turning the pages and poring over recipes, a slip of notepaper fell to the floor. It looked like a grocery list of dried fruit in our grandfather’s handwriting. Then we realized what we had: The Maxey Fruitcake Recipe.
Making the fruitcake is an annual tradition now, and we double the recipe to have enough for everyone. Serve thin slices with fresh whipped cream and Crème Noel (or egg nog if you prefer).
Oh wait… I never gave you the recipe… And I shan’t! The recipe itself is now a treasured and closely guarded secret. But Alton Brown has a great recipe that’s a close approximation.