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Bourbon can improve your fruitcake

Most people say that they don’t like fruitcake. I say that these people have never really had a good piece of fruitcake.

My mother had a tradition of making a fruitcake at some time during the week of Thanksgiving.

She called it fruitcake, but it was more like “nut cake,” in that it was loaded with walnuts, pecans, etc. She had no written recipe down for it, but she used less raisins, candied fruit and peel than most recipes call for.

She would make her cake in her angel food cake pan. I recall that I loved dates straight from the box, and she had a difficult time keeping me out of them. She would hide them from me until the day she baked the cake.

After she baked the cake, she allowed it to cool. Then, she would pour a half pint of bourbon over it.

This had to be done in several applications to get all of the whiskey to soak into the cake. My mother was a staunch Southern Baptist, and this was the only time that I ever knew her to buy “adult beverages” of any type.

After applying bourbon, she would place it in a cake saver with an air-tight lid and place it into a buffet cabinet until Christmas day.

After a special dinner on Christmas that usually included pork roast as the entrée and shrimp stuffed tomatoes as a salad, she would cut everyone a piece of her fruitcake.

She would usually top it with vanilla ice-cream and sometimes whipped cream.

Aging the cake with bourbon for about a month gave it a wonderful flavor. I feel sure that most of the alcohol had evaporated during this time, imparting only the flavor of the spirits behind. We all ate it with gusto.

My mother worried from time to time that this would teach us (my siblings and me) the taste for whiskey and turn us all into alcoholics. We now know that this is unfounded.

Alcoholism is not a disease brought on by the unique ability of alcoholics to form acetaldehyde from alcohol. It turns out that everyone who partakes of alcohol forms acetaldehyde from it as the normal pathway of alcohol metabolism.

It is generally accepted that alcoholism is an entire system of bad habits, i.e. drunken associates, surroundings associated with drunkenness, exaggerated hardships, etc. and weakness in the ability to overcome exorbitant desire.

I have read a lot of recipes for fruitcake using rum, wine, etc., but I have never seen one for fruitcake dredged with bourbon.

It’s delicious, but must be aged before eating to bring out its superior flavor.


Ed Field

Natchez resident