Although often maligned, with the right combination of nuts and dried fruits, fruitcakes are a delicious dessert or holiday gift to make and give.
For Kathy Cagle Ross of Canton, baking a fruitcake is both fun and rewarding.
“I love to cook. I love to cook sweets, and if I cook them I eat them, so I just share them with everyone,” Ross said.
One of the unique properties of a fruitcake is that it is usually baked weeks in advance of when it will be devoured and then regularly moistened by brushing it with alcohol.
Called feeding the cake, the addition of rum or brandy infuses the treat with a subtle flavor and acts as a preservative.
In Ross’s Cherry Fruit Cake recipe, she uses dark rum.
It was her husband Ken’s mother, the late Myrtle Ross of Ball Ground, who gave her the recipe and she said she has been making it for the entire 42 years they have been married.
“Ken loves fruitcake, he especially loves Japanese fruitcake, but I like this one because it is easier to make,” Ross said.
Ross has the original handwritten recipe card from her mother-in-law, and said it is so old that it is getting difficult to read.
Ross credits her mother, the late Sara Jane Cagle, her grandmother, the late Bessie Estelle Cagle and her mother-in-law with her love of cooking.
“My grandmother lived to be 100 and she was still cooking at 99 years old,” Ross said.
Ross wrote on Facebook this Thanksgiving of how much those ladies served as an inspiration to her.
“Not only did they leave me with some of the very best recipes, but they left me with the knowledge of what to do with those recipes,” she wrote. “I can recall standing in their kitchens, watching, but never dreaming that one day, that job would be mine. I remember both my mother and my grandmother, with those poor crooked fingers so deformed by arthritis, but yet could prepare some of the best meals, ever.
“Above all, I remember the love all three of these special ladies always had for their families. Now, many years later, I not only inherited the arthritis (with the crooked fingers), but I also inherited their job of cooking the turkey, dressing (my Mother’s great recipe) and some more of their great dishes. I am so very blessed to have inherited the love that they had for our family.”
Cherry Fruit Cake
1-1/2 cups sifted plain flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 pkg. pitted dates (7-1/4 oz. each) I use the bags of chopped dates, much easier
1 lb. diced candied pineapple
2 jars (16 oz. each) red maraschino cherries, drained
18 oz. (about 5-1/2 cups) pecan halves
1/3 cup dark rum
1/2 cup light corn syrup (to be brushed on cakes while warm)
Grease two 9x5x3” loaf pans; line with foil, allowing a 2-inch overhang, and grease again.
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a very large bowl; add fruits and pecans and toss until coated. Beat eggs and rum thoroughly; pour over fruit mixture. Toss until combined. Turn mixture into prepared loaf pans, pressing frequently with metal spatula to pack tightly. Bake in 300 degree oven for 1-3/4 hours or until toothpick inserted in center of loaves comes out clean. Allow cake loaves to cool in pan 15 minutes, then remove from pan and tear off foil. Brush loaves with corn syrup while still warm. Cool thoroughly before serving or storing.
— Kathy Cagle Ross