Monday, December 13, 2004

My Very First Attempt - Christmas Fruitcake -

Being inspired by the post by chika about baking fruitcakes for Christmas, I’ve decided to bake one myself this year. This is my very first attempt and I’m so excited! I know it’s probably too late, but it’s just a personal experiment… no one else but me will eat this cake, so what the heck! I’ll just give it a go and enjoy chopping up nuts and dried fruits :D

These are what I have at hand. I'll see what I can do.

I’ll let you know the result on Christmas day!


There’s a saying in Japan: “Women are like Christmas cakes.”

It’s a Japanese custom to eat cakes like these for Christmas. It’s almost a “must.” Except those who love to bake one at home, most people buy Christmas cakes at stores. The cakes still left unsold on the 26th will be given a big discount. So what they mean by calling women “Christmas cakes” is this: Women are worthless after 25 (years old) --- no one would be interested in them.

When I told this to a woman from England several years ago, she got really furious. She said to me, “If someone called you a Christmas cake, don’t think that’s a Japanese Christmas cake… Think it’s our Christmas cake.” Then she explained that in her hometown they bake Christmas cake way ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator for more than a month to let it mature because it gets tastier with time. And the cake is welcomed any time other than Christmas. I couldn’t imagine what kind of cake would be like that. The only cakes I knew at that time were pound cake, sponge cake and chiffon cake, and I couldn’t imagine any of them staying good for more than a month. Later I found out that the cake she was talking about was fruitcake.

Since then, I thought about baking a Christmas fruitcake myself several times, but I couldn’t decide to actually go for it. I didn’t like fruitcake so much in the first place. I ate a store-bought fruitcake once and didn’t like the strong taste of brandy at all. After my first bite, I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the piece. So this year, again, I thought about baking one, and couldn’t make up my mind until it was almost too late. But when I saw the word “adjust” in her post, I thought “Yeah, why not?!”

This year the idea of “a cake that gets tastier with time” attracts me more than before. (Maybe it has something to do with my age ;P) I want to see what it’s like for a fruitcake to “mature” … I want to see it actually happen in my own kitchen. Also I want to know if I can see myself as ”that kind of Christmas cake” and if I like the taste of the cake. After all, it’s fun and even empowering to choose my favorite ingredients and make adjustments to make “my favorite fruitcake that tastes better with time.” If I see women as brightly decorated Japanese Christmas cakes that are valued for certain period of time only (i.e. only when they’re young and fresh), I have no other choice but feel helpless.


ting-aling said...

I wanted to make fruit cake for Christmas but I guess I'm a little bit late now..I've been very busy lately..

obachan said...

Maybe I was the last person in the world who made fruitcake for this coming Christmas. Maybe this is a world record? ;)

cooknengr said...

How interesting, Chinese's saying similar to "Christmas cake" would be a rhyme: "女人二十,一枝花,三十爛茶渣" meaning a woman is like a flower at twenty, after thirty she's like used tea leave.

Here in the US, some family make/purchase traditional pies with fruit cake's filling, "minced meat pie".Not too sure why because there is not meat It's eaten with this thick sugary white sauce.

Evert think about adding a few shots of rum to keep it moist ?

obachan said...

Hi cooknengr,
Oh, that’s what they say in China? I wonder what they’d say about women over 40.
Yeah, rum sounds good. After the cake was done and cooled, I brushed it with rum. I wonder if I need to do it several times…

Anonymous said...

Obachan- Good luck in making your fruitcake, i have heard that some soak cheese cloth in rum or brandy and then just wrap the cake inside it. Anyways I hope it comes out really well!

cooknengr- Orignally mincemeat had meat in it, Some still cook it this way, but most only have beef suet in it, and nothing else but fruit nuts and rum/whisky/brandy. I was wondering about the white sauce you wer talking about can you elaborate?


chika said...


I can't wait to see how it turns out! :D

It really wasn't that late to make fruit cake for Christmas. I have made fruit cakes like on the day before Christmas day more than once, and some people still make it on the very day they plan to eat. After all, fruit cakes will not keep too long unless they are loaded with sugar AND boozed up very well - they are what keep, and actually develop the taste of, fruit cakes. So if you made it with relatively small amount of sugar and spirits, it will probably be just good within a few weeks. As a side note, if you don't fancy a strong liquor taste in your cake, you might probably not want to "feed" too much, specially within a week before the day you plan to eat the cake. It takes time for strong liquors like rum or brandy to get mellow(er).

Also, fruit cake is not something you can eat all up by the end of Christmas day, and you'll probably have some leftover, so you can enjoy a slice or two a day even after Christmas. If not, you are welcome to send the leftover to me!

obachan said...

> Hi milgwimper --- Thanks and welcome :D Using cheese cloth sounds like a good idea, but maybe it’d give the cake more rum flavor than I want. I guess I’m going to brush it with rum just one more time.

> Hi chika --- Thanks so much for the info! So I didn’t make a world record, ha?
When making this cake I replaced brandy with orange curacao, rum(not too much) and apple juice, so I guess 10 days of waiting time isn’t ridiculously short for this cake after all (hopefully.) Appreciate your offer of taking care of my leftover cake ;) 

obachan said...

Oh Jonny, you’re definitely my favorite role model in housekeeping. Are you sure you don’t wanna be hired for my end-of-year cleaning?

pinkcocoa said...

hiya obachan!
I also don't fancy christmas fruitcake. Now that you have mentioned it, I probably dont like the brandy in it. Then again I dont like glaced cherries and orange peels too.

I much prefer the kawaii Japanese Christmas Cakes . To eat that is. I refuse to be called a Japanese Christmas Cakes.......!!!

obachan said...

Hi pinkcocoa,
Oh, I don’t like that kind of cherries and orange peels, either. I didn’t use them at all for my fruitcake.

cooknengr said...

Hi Obachan, answer to the white sauce question, I called my friend to confirm. It's Rum Sauce, although I did not detect any rum in it. It's been her family tradition for Christmas party that one of the familly member bake or buy a minced meat pie. In recent years, they have been buying mince meat pir from either Marie Callender or Bakers Square, two of the chiain restaurants famous for their pies.

obachan said...

Mmmmmm, mincemeat pie and rum sauce. Sounds very rich, doesn’t it? Thanks very much for your research:)

Ms One Boobie said...

Hey .. Obachan.. :)
Not very nice tat the japs refer to woman as Christmas cake.. is it.. ??!!!?? heh!!
I love fruitcakes.. although i've never made one.. my mom used to make them.. her speciality.. she said.. plus pineapple tarts.. but i never like that she makes them during festive season... because we don't get to eat any proper meal .. cos' she has no time to cook dinner.. and the kitchen is filled with tarts..and utensils.. so i dread it so much.. when it comes to the time.. when she bakes. But i love fruitcakes because of the marzipan or white icing.. :) i especially love the ones they give out in weddings.. :) so yum..!!!

obachan said...

Making is always the tough part, and eating is the best (and easiest) part, right?

Anonymous said...

Tis the season for fruitcakes. Like those above, they're usually light brown in color with red bits of cherry, a piece of a pecan or other nut here and there, and the occassional glimpse of green whatever-that-green-jelly-like-crap is they put in fruitcakes. Those cakes look harmless enough. But sometimes as a child, when Christmas neared, it became fruitcake season at my house. Grandma invaded our kitchen and for two to three days, batches of fruitcake batter were created so large that they were mixed with a canoe paddle (honest). Unlike the usual light brown fruitcakes in stores, these were nearly black; so dark that the cherries and nuts and green-thingies were only identifiable on close examination. Perhaps it was that the cakes were so dense that light had trouble escaping from their surface. In any event, unfortunate relatives were enlisted to come over and take shifts monitoring the oven around the clock until all of the fruitcakes were baked. Even less fortunate relatives received one of these cakes as their Christmas present. I was only a small lad when this was occurring, but I can recall that it was all so very necessary to make fruitcakes and that it took many bottles of whiskey to make them. I can still recall my grandma individually wrapping dozens of these great ten pound lumps of indigestion in layers of brown paper, then proudly inscribing the name and address of a distant relative on the paper and taking them to the post office. Perhaps it was the combination of my disdain for the awful taste of the cakes, or my tender years, but I always imagined Uncle Roger in California calling out to his wife, "Hey Bessie, come see. Somebody shit in the mailbox!"

obachan said...

Hi anonymous commenter,
Thanks for visiting and sharing this story! Sorry but I couldn't help laughing so hard for a while. Oh boy... I can see how everyone loved her AND had an inner conflict about her fruitcake. It's such a funny, heart-warming story, and funny... :D