|Obviously, Mr. Gorey just never found|
the right fruitcake recipe ...
Now if your only experience with fruitcake is one that has come from a tin or a box, then yes, it undoubtedly deserves being tossed into a hole in the ice. The insomniac's very own mother made hers from a mix, which required only the addition of a few eggs to the contents in order to become a perfect example of just such a fruitcake. The only reason it was included in her yearly Christmas baking repertory was to appease her father-in-law, who had emigrated to Canada from England but who retained his fondness for English fare. Every Sunday, for as long as he was able, Grandpa Smith would come for a traditional Sunday supper of Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding - the pudding never quite living up to his expectations. Mincemeat Tarts and Shortbread, his other favourites, are recipes which remain to this day in one's own recipe collection, although the insomniac has managed to find a never-fail Yorkshire Pudding recipe with which to replace her Sainted Mother's.
Christmas dinner was always finished off with the Canadian prairie version of British plum pudding - steamed carrot pudding. The very thought of this pudding causes an involuntary gag reflex, and it's safe to say that particular recipe was not saved. Before completely writing off Christmas puddings altogether, the insomniac contacted Alastair of App'y Talk to see if he might be able to suggest a good recipe. He was kind enough to supply the following, originally published in Michael Barry's “Radio Times” Cookery Year. Hopefully, one will manage to avoid burning the place to the ground when attempting to set the brandy-soaked pudding alight, providing some unexpected entertainment for the family on Christmas Day.
|Click to enlarge.|
The following recipe remains the constant favourite after many years of intensive Fruitcake Research, and came from a very old issue of Victoria Magazine. Clipped from that same issue were recipes for California Fruitcake and Canadian White Fruitcake, both equally delightful variations of the traditional dark. Email if you'd like a copy of either. It's always best to make fruitcake by the end of November at the very latest, as it needs a good 3 to 4 weeks of marinating in brandy-soaked cheesecloth before consumption. The insomniac does not care for, and therefore never includes, the candied cherries in her fruitcake, and one year will attempt to make her own candied peel. But not this year.
|Click to enlarge.|
|Marinating in the brandy. |
Fa la la la la ...
|Twice as much brandied fruit as batter. |
... la la la la.
|Two hours later.|
|Lying comatose in its brandy-soaked bedding. |
Been there - done that, as they say.
Since the currants, raisins and mixed peel are already out, you might as well make some mincemeat. Again, if your only experience with this delicacy is a store-bought version, one can understand why you might be somewhat hesitant, but suggests you try this old family recipe in spite of your reservations. As there is only one individual in this household who actually enjoys Mincemeat Tarts at Christmas, this recipe is generally halved. It tastes just fine without the suet and, as does everything, improves with the addition of 2 to 3 tablespoons of brandy, whisky or rum.
|Click to enlarge.|
As with the fruitcake, the mincemeat should be allowed to mature a week or two before use. The Mincemeat Tarts are made with a shortcrust pastry from an out-of-print book of classic English recipes called Farmhouse Cookery, Recipes from the Country Kitchen. Custom has it that one tart should be eaten for each of the twelve days of Christmas to ensure twelve happy months ahead. No arguments here.
|Numerous copies of this book have been |
purchased for gift-giving over the years.
One has always had good luck finding them on eBay ...
Until next time, the insomniac wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams, of Fruitcake and Mincement and whatever other traditional family favourites are on your Christmas baking list this year. Which obviously she would love to hear about, as there's always room on her personal baking list for new additions. Goodnight, my pretties.
PostScript: The shipment of Edward Gorey items did arrive this week, including the Fruitcake Holiday Cards (in case you find them just as amusing as the insomniac does), Dracula Puzzles and Toy Theatres, Fantod Pack Tarot Cards, and some excellent seasonal reading entitled The Twelve Terrors of Christmas. And with the fruitcakes now done and 25 cm of snow this week so far, it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here. Yay!