All is merry and bright and decorated! This is the time, if there is any time of the year, to get it all out and enjoy the transformation of your home for the short season of Christmas. I professionally decorate people’s homes for the holidays and though I do enjoy it, there is nothing like unwrapping my own ornaments to flood my mind with joyful memories. I would describe my personal decorating style as Whimsical Hodgepodge. Our tree consists of decorations that we have collected from our family and friends plus, from traveling around here and there. I love traditional Christmas colors of red and green so most of my decorations revolve around those tried and true hues. I have a few items that to the casual observer would go mostly unnoticed, but to me they are sacred. One, a little Santa votive holder my Mammie bought in the local five and dime but graced the shelf above her TV set annually. Still has the Perry’s price tag on the bottom-it was a whopping $2.99 yet for me it is worth untold amounts. Next, a gold bell that hangs and you pull the cord to hear “Silent Night”. As a small child I remember family members holding me up to pull the cord as I delighted in the chimey song. It still has the red and green yarn Mammie tied on it so many years ago and I still pull the cord as I walk by it in my house. It makes my heart smile.
When I married Jay I adopted his family tradition of having tamales, beans, and rice for our Christmas Eve meal as we ready for the evening festivities. I must admit that I also love to eat and make fruitcake. FRUITCAKE! Yes, made right it is divine. Mammie would make hers a month ahead and weekly baste it in a whisky/apricot jam concoction. Even as a kid I loved it…maybe it was the whisky?!
When you really think about the holidays, it comes down to the great memories you have stored away and the hope that new ones will be made to stockpile for safe keeping. Wishing you and yours a glorious holiday season and may Christ be with you today and all days.
- 1½ cups dried pineapple
- 1½ cups raisins
- 1 cup dried apricots, diced
- 1½ cups chopped dates
- 6 ounces candied cherries (reserve a few for decorating the tops of the cakes)
- ¾ cup (6 ounces) whisky
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cupsKing Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup cranberry juice
- 2 cups chopped, toasted pecans
- Weekly basting liquid of ¼ cup of whisky with 2 Tbsp apricot jam
- The Batter: Cream the butter until soft, then add the sugar, spices and baking powder. Beat in the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and cocoa. Add about half of the flour mixture and all the syrup to the batter. Then add the remaining flour and the juice or water and mix well. Fold in the fruits, any remaining liquid, and the nuts.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease the bottom and sides of the pans or line them with parchment paper. This recipe makes enough for 7 mini-loaf pans; 16 loaves baked in mini-loaf sets; or two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Spoon the batter into the pans, filling them about ¾ full.
- Bake the cakes on the middle shelf of a preheated 300°F oven -- 65 minutes for the smallest loaves, 75 minutes for the medium loaves, and 2 hours, 15 minutes for the large loaves. The cakes are done when a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven, and brush them with whisky. Let them cool, then remove them from the pans. Brush all surfaces with whisky or simple syrup.
- Wrap the cakes in parchment paper, then in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and store them in a cool, dry place. Unwrap the cakes every week (for up to 5 weeks) and brush them with more syrup. By the fifth week the cakes will have absorbed as much liquid as they're able. They'll keep for several months this way, as long as they're tightly wrapped.