OK, I know that my day job as Fashion Editor for Ladies’ Home Journal means I’m already a published writer but I still think of myself as more of an editor-of-clothes than an editor-of-words. There have only been a few times over the years when I’ve had an opportunity to write more than a sentence or two. So, when a short essay I wrote was selected for LHJ’s food feature The Story Behind the Recipe, I was thrilled. It felt like the boost of confidence that I really needed with my writing but more importantly, I was getting my mom’s famous fruitcake recipe printed in a national magazine with a huge readership. And the best part of all? I was able to tell the world about how awesome it was to learn to bake from my mom and how–contrary to popular fruitcake folklore–this stuff is actually delicious. As I wrote in the story, it doesn’t have any of those “plasticy red and green things”.
For the full Story Behind the Recipe of my mom’s delicious “spice cake”, click the link below to see it on lhj.com (or run out and grab the December issue while it’s still on newsstands for another day or two): Just Don’t Call it A Fruitcake! The Best Spice Cake Recipe
To see where fruitcakes gets it’s bad reputation, check out this Shirley Jean one that I spotted in my local ShopRite just before Christmas. I mean, what is it with those melted red candles on the box? Is that where they get those red chunks they put in the cake? Yikes! (Note the weight. It’s 3 pounds!)
Interestingly enough, a quick Google search of Shirley Jean showed me that they used to sell the fruitcakes in pretty tins that are available all over ebay and Etsy. Maybe that’s why everyone bought them? (Click images for purchase info. Shirley Jean Fruitcakes not included. Thank god.)
Here’s my mom’s updated fruitcake recipe. My promise to you: Candace Ann kicks Shirley Jean’s ass.
Don’t-Call-it-a-Fruitcake Spice Cake
Work: 15 min
Total: 2 hr
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped dates
1 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
5 tbsp shortening
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
- Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
- In a 3-qt saucepan combine water, sugar, dates, raisins and apricots. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 20 min. Remove fruit mixture from heat and stir in shortening; let cool, about 30 min.
- In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt. Stir in cooled fruit mixture and walnuts.
- Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hr. When cake is cool, cut into slices or wrap in foil for up to 1 week. Makes 2 loaves.
If you’d like to submit a Story Behind the Recipe to LHJ, email it to email@example.com and say Sue at Home sent you! If it’s selected, your recipe will have the honor of being in the pages of a national magazine that’s seen by more than 10 million people (yowza!) AND you’ll be paid $400! Wait a minute. I guess editors from other departments aren’t eligible for the pay out! But you are, so write that story now.
My girls love to bake with their “Mimi”. I don’t have any pictures of them making the fruitcake with her but I’ll leave you with some particularly adorable shots of these little peasant girls making a birthday cake for my dad last summer.
Sue at Home