Thursday, December 18, 2008


In my household there is a cultural gap regarding Christmas deserts. My DW is from the UK. Traditional Christmas deserts include such things as Christmas puddings (steamed - probably made with real lard!) with brandy butter and little bite-size mince pies. I tend to actually like the Christmas puddings, but never really have been a mince pie fan. These are things that I never really had growing up and were somewhat alien to me. (Ok - a confession, we DID have mince pies at Thanksgiving in my parent's house.) Still, one of the items that exemplifies this gap is fruitcake.
Christmas Pudding (With icing and ubiquitous Holly-leaf decoration)

Mince Pies

To be honest, I grew up with Figi's fruitcake which to most people resembles a brick. By the time it arrives at the door, it is a dense, nay, solid item that is probably best used as a door stop. It typically arrived as a slightly battered rendition of the image below:


It wasn't until we were about to get married that I got my true introduction to fruitcake. I was told that it was a traditional English wedding cake. I was in shock. I described my experiences with fruitcake to my bride-to-be and she basically laughed at me. Fruitcake? That door-stop brick from Figi's from my youth? The one immortalized in the song yesterday from NPR that had the lyrics : "Denser than a load of barnyard turkeys, Tougher than a truck of old beef jerky..." When I think Fruitcake that's what I think of.

My other half thinks of fruitcake in a different way. She's from the UK and has a fond memories (dare I say a love?) of the stuff. When she proposed fruitcake as our wedding cake, I nearly dropped out of my chair in shock. She was fairly insistent and as she was making most of the arrangments for the reception, what choice did I have?

Then she told me of the preparation.

In detail.


1. Bake the cake with the dried fruits, etc.
2. Allow to age.
3. Feed it a regular dose of stout and brandy to hydrate the cake. (Ok, at this point I started to get interested..)
4. After the cake can take no more stout and brandy, coat with marzipan and royal icing.
5. Decorate.
6. Serve.

I will admit that once I got a slice of this cake on my wedding day, my attitude towards the stuff was changed. Apparently here in the States we forget steps 3 through 5. The gentleman who made the cake is a chef of the highest order and had done a gorgeous job of decorating (and feeding...) The main body of the cake was decorated with a pastel yellow icing and the tiers were separated with brandy glasses. The decoration on the cake was in pastel pinks and green with hand-made sugar roses that looked like they were freshly picked from the garden.

Now, if I could only get him to make some fruitcake for Christmas dinner!

1 comment:

Almost American said...

I hate to tell you this, but the chef cheated with our wedding cake. It came from Marks & Spencers (or maybe Tescos). He did feed it properly though! I remember him specifically mentioning giving it some Guinness because it didn't look dark enough.

Sadly, I don't think even Guinness would redeem a Figi's fruitcake!

And I don't think I ever remember anyone serving a pie-sized mince pie in the UK - they're always small.