If you go through the hassle, treat yourself to some of the jam as well. I’m working through a jar of the wild thimbleberry and it’s amazingly good.
And a warning on the fruitcakes - you must like liquor. The things are soaked in it. For those of us who imbibe, you’ll love it. But if you don’t like the taste of rum or brandy, you’re probably not going to like the fruitcake.
And invite friends over as well. Hubby and I bought two slices on Monday, and I think there’s still a bit of one in the fridge. They’re very rich.
I’m not a connoisseur, but my grandmother used to order fruitcakes every year from The Collin Street Bakery in Texas. She won a number of converts with this tinned/catalog fruitcake, including my wife, though not me.
My brother-in-law and I have been making Alton’s recipe every year for the past three years. We double the recipe, and then serve half at the annual holiday party, then half of what’s left, we intend to share at New Year’s, but the two of us devour by ourselves.
The last quarter gets stashed in the freezer, receiving the occasional tiny dose of brandy until some point in the summer during which we’re feeling silly, and break it out with some ice cream, and a side of brandy.
Warning, Alton’s recipe (especially the way we make it, in which we don’t so much spritz the brandy as, er… slosh) can be pretty potent in the booze department. It can also be pretty potent in the WALLET department - a hearty basket’s worth of ingredients, plus a few bottles of liquor… we’d never make it if we really added it up. But, it’s our sibling bonding time
Most commercially made fruitcakes are made poorly, with the cheapest possible ingredients. Since this is what most people buy and receive and eat, most people have a very poor experience with fruitcakes.
But a good fruitcake is a really nice thing, both to give and to receive. They are very rich and dense and flavorful.
Not to dispute your statement, but as I mentioned above my Grandmother was an excellent and well-regarded cook in the small town she lived in, and was famous not just there for her peanut brittle and some other specialties. But either she imitated the recipes of the cakes that had that pasteboard texture and were overdone with citron (and maybe a bit too much of whatever booze she used – my guess is either rum or bourbon) or else she just didn’t veer enough away from the “standards” of Southern fruitcake tradition to make hers taste any better. I will say, in her defense, that all my uncles (Daddy included) raved on her fruitcakes. Not me and not my cousins. Maybe it was a generation thing, but we couldn’t stand that stuff.