Welcome to the Christmas Traditions Bake Off Party!!!
We're celebrating online on Facebook and also over here on the Overcoming With God blog! Post your recipes online (click here) and leave a comment here on the blog to enter for giveaways!
Do you remember as a young adult or earlier even, learning that your mother's recipes were not the "only" correct way to prepare a certain food item? My husband, then my 22-year-old boyfriend, invited a bunch of people to his apartment to watch a football game and enjoy some chili that he made, using his mother's, and grandmother's, recipe. I got my bowl full. Except that it had something weird in it--Spaghettioes! I pointed that out to Jeffrey and asked why he'd added them to the chili. His response, "because that is how you make it"!!! The rest of his guests also got their chili. Soon Jeff got his eyes opened to the fact that traditional chili does not have Spaghettioes floating around in it! But the thing was--to him, that was the "right" way. I'm guessing his grandmother added those to get her grandchildren more interested in eating the chili and I think that was pretty clever!
Growing up, fruitcakes were a holiday tradition. My mom made this expensive treat as a gift. And it IS expensive to make. People don't think about that. Instead they bemoan the horrible abused fruitcakes they've had over the years--fruitcakes that weren't prepared properly or were not baked according to the tastes of the recipients. There is no "one" true fruitcake--a point I tried to make in my novella. There may be one that was "classic" for its time and made according to the tastes of that generation but it doesn't make it the end all and be all for fruitcake baking. For instance, some of the spices used in previous centuries are far too heavy for today's tastes.
Every country seems to have its own version of a fruited cake. My German-American father-in-law favors the Christmas stollen made in the Chicago bakeries. The Victorians especially seemed to enjoy adding fruit either to a cake or as a side accompaniment to cakes.
Mrs. Jeffries, Tom's mother, in The Fruitcake Challenge, loves pound cake, as does her family. She's used her generations old colonial pound cake recipe to which, every year, she adds whatever dried fruits she has available and whatever nuts she can find--preferably walnuts. So Jo, in her efforts to recreate Tom's favorite recipe hasn't considered that Mrs. Jeffries doesn't prepare a traditional spicy fruitcake. And of course Tom is little help.
One recipe for pound cake is "Million Dollar Pound Cake" recipe from Southern Living (click here.) However, I envisioned Cordelia Jeffries using an old colonial recipe for pound cake which was simply: 1 pound of flour, 1 pound of eggs, 1 pound of sugar, and 1 pound of butter. There was no leavening--air was whipped into the batter by beating the eggs. This makes a large amount of cake. Mrs. Jeffries added whatever fruits and nuts she had in her larder come Christmastime. So one year it may be currents, dried cherries, walnuts, and pecans. Another year it could have been other types of fruits and nuts. She believed in being economical and her son just knew he loved what his mother made! Here poor Jo, in my story, and her father, have worn themselves out with recipes while Mrs. Jeffries' was so very simple! It did, however, require a great deal of mixing. I'd like to think all the ladies in the lumber camp kitchen took turns helping Jo. Even with a hand held rotary beater this would have taken a long time.
My friend, Linda Rash, shared this pound cake recipe with me and is our first winner of a paperback copy of The Fruitcake Challenge! Linda received the recipe from a co-worker and this was his mother's recipe. Both have passed on to be with the Lord, but here is:
Mrs. Hardy's Pound Cake Recipe
3 sticks butter or margarine
3 cups sugar
1 - 8 oz. cream cheese (Philly)
3 cups (plain) flour (not self-rising)
Bring all ingredients to room temperature.
Beat butter and cream cheese together, add sugar, beat until well mixed. Add eggs two at a time and beat well. Add flour, one cup at a time and mix well and scrape bowl good. Add any kind of flavoring you like.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Flour and grease the baking pan well--cook in Angel food or bundt pan. Baker's Joy baking spray can be used in lieu of the grease and flour. Bake 1 1/2 hours or until done. (Sounds divine!)
In Cynthia Hickey's lovely mid-1800's story, Handcarved Christmas, I could just "smell" coffee brewing on the wood stove and I think some nice strong coffee would go great with Mrs. Jeffries' fruitcake or with most of the delicious recipes on our Facebook party page!
Question: Do you have a special memory of a special food or drink for Christmastime? Do you continue to make that recipe?