Cheap Fruitcake

Much to the joy of no one in my family, I make a Christmas fruitcake every year. The recipe was my dad’s, which he got from his mother. So I like to think making fruitcake is my way of ensuring that family traditions continue to plague generations to come.

Luncheon Cake was submitted by Mrs. Depew. That's an unfortunate name.

Luncheon Cake was submitted by Mrs. Depew. That's an unfortunate name.

I came across this recipe for Cheap Fruitcake in my 1922 Sarnia cookbook. Since cheap seems to be its main selling feature, I figured I’d give it a whirl. I think this fruitcake was considered cheap because it doesn’t have nuts. Or eggs. Or butter. Or caviar. It does, however, have molasses. Specifically, “black” molasses, which I’m assuming is blackstrap molasses. But who knows? Folks in the olden days could’ve used roofing tar. Times were tough. I opted for fancy molasses because if you’ve ever tried blackstrap molasses, the taste isn’t unlike roofing tar. 

I heard molasses is supposed to put hair on your chest. I'm still waiting. 

I heard molasses is supposed to put hair on your chest. I'm still waiting. 

I got most of my ingredients at the Bulk Barn and I was sure I bought allspice. But when I got home, I couldn’t find it in the bag. Needless to say, this drove me nuts. I’ll probably find it under the passenger seat in March. I didn’t know what to replace it with since my spice supply is limited and oregano didn’t seem like the best fit. So I threw in a half-teaspoon of ginger.

Citrus peel. The most unpopular kid at any party.

Citrus peel. The most unpopular kid at any party.

Like all the recipes in this book, it doesn’t say what kind of pan to use, so I opted for my dad’s fruitcake pan. I know it looks “schkeevy” (as the Italians say), but I tell myself those black markings are flavour injectors. I baked the cake for an hour and a half at 325 degrees.

It's clean. Honest.

It's clean. Honest.

As to how it tasted, well, you’ll have to sit tight. Fruitcake needs time to ferment so I’ve wrapped that sucker up tighter than King Tut. It'll sit in booze-soaked cheesecloth in my garage for the next couple of weeks. I’ll post a tasting update closer to Christmas. I know my readers are curious, but both of you will have to preoccupy yourselves until then. I suggest cribbage.

Here's how it looked after baking.

Here's how it looked after baking.

As to how cheap this fruitcake was, I figure my ingredients came to about twelve dollars. Which is pretty cheap. For a cake that no one wants to eat. Hmm. Suddenly, that doesn’t sound so cheap anymore.

About to be sealed in its tomb. 

About to be sealed in its tomb. 

UPDATE: Dear readers, both of you will be happy to know that I recently unwrapped the Cheap Fruitcake and tasted it. The verdict? Not bad. It was more cake-ish than a regular fruitcake. Sort of like a gingerbread loaf.  In fact, I think I like it better than my regular fruitcake. Maybe I'll make this next year and use all the money I save towards something meaningful. Like a hot tub.

More cake than fruit. I guess that's why it's cheap.

More cake than fruit. I guess that's why it's cheap.