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A fairly easy, festive fruitcake recipe

Now that winter is rearing its icy head, I am not one of those people who wax nostalgic about fireplaces and heating their homes with open fireplaces or wood/coal burning stoves or furnaces.

I’m not sure as to what year it actually began, 2009? Or thereabouts, when my buddy, Robert Kennedy, first made and mailed from his place in Maryland a homemade holiday fruit cake to a small group of friends that include yours truly. In any event, Bob has sent us a loaf size fruit cake, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, every year since and I am hoping, with all my heart, that a new tradition has been established that will endure, at least, through the rest of my lifetime.

Bob’s fruitcake, he makes from “scratch,” neither looks nor tastes much like a regular, grocer’s fruit cake offering except for the fact that it is loaded with large chunks of candied fruit and pecans that seem to vary from year to year. I’m not sure what nor how much of the individual ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, leavening, etc) he puts into the basic batter, but therein lie the secrets of his success.

I’ve never asked for his exact recipe because, if it were mine, I would guard it more closely than the recipe for Coca Cola and the Colonel’s secret combination of herbs and spices. Loretta and I both believe Bob’s cake is, by far, the best we’ve ever tasted but don’t come calling and expect to get a slice because it’s long gone and usually well-hidden until it gets that way.

About the same time Bob commenced sending us his fruitcake, I decided to try my hand at making one.

Mine is not in the same league as Bob’s but it does make a beautiful table decoration and it tastes well enough that not a scrap ever goes to waste. Loretta usually leaves the room when I bake it right after telling me to “Try not to wreck the kitchen.”

Mine turns out tasty enough that several folks have suggested I publish the recipe. If you have time on your hands and need to heat up your kitchen, here’s one way to do it:

IKE’S FAIRLY EASY FESTIVE FRUITCAKE

1 box regular size spice cake mix (carrot cake mix will also work)

1 cup all porpose flour

1 tsp each of ground ginger, allspice and cinnamon

6 large egges

½ cup melted butter

2 cups diced dates or raisins or currants or craisins or mixture of all three

1 cup black walnut kernels

1 cup pecan kernels (use 2 cups if you don’t have walnuts)

2 cups mixed candied fruit

1 cup whole candied or codial cherries

3 cups condensed milk or presweetened evaporated milk

1 cup apricot brandy or essence of appricot juice (brandy is better and the alcolol completely evaporates during baking)

1 (large) pack instant lemon Jello pudding mix

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp lemon extract or 4 tsp lemon zest

Mix eggs, melted butter, milk, lemon extract, spices and brandy in large mixing bowl until thoroughly blended. Add cake mix, flour, pudding mix and baking powder and blend until consistent. Add nuts and fruit and blend until consistent.

Bake in bundt pan, filled to about ¾ inch from top in pre-heated oven at 350 for 60 to 65 minutes. You will also have enough batter to fill a regular cake pan in addition to the bundt. Let it bake for about 40 minutes alongside the bundt.

Test with standard tooth pick insert method. Tastes best after it has been refrigerated in a covered cake dish for about a week. May also be garnished/glazed with your favorite confectioner’s sugar glaze recipe and several maraschino cherries

Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at ikeadams@aol.com or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.