There’s not much that can compare with the smell of spiced fruit baking into a cake. Rich, sweet, aromatic. Allspice and cloves, cinnamon, orange and lemon, all mingling in a kitchen whose mess might be overlooked for a nibble of the tiny fruitcake that baked alongside the big loaf pans. Today, the fruit that had soaked up the warm flavors of rum and brandy and then simmered in apple juice and spices, was finally mixed into a cake batter and baked in the oven. It will be weeks more of spraying with brandy every few days before the flavors will have mellowed and blended and matured to be the perfect holiday treat. This tradition will be sticking around for a long time in this home.
For the last several years, Aaron has made the most amazing fruitcake this world knows. Its creator is Alton Brown of the Food Network, the god of our family’s kitchen. It’s made with actual dried fruit, not that nasty stuff that’s mostly sugar and food coloring. It’s soaked in rum and brandy. So much rum. Copious amounts of brandy. So much that after Sofia was born (she came right before Christmas), after nine months of alcohol abstinence, I got a buzz from eating (way too much of) it.
Tonight I said casually to Aaron, “Maybe I’ll start chopping fruit for the fruitcake,” and he said, “Okay,” and just like that I’ve been made the Master of the Fruitcake. It’s a big responsibility. I’m taking it very seriously.