Why It's Never Too Early To Start Making Fruitcake

Who doesn't love fruitcake? Apparently, the more relevant question these days is, who does? Long considered a must-do on the list of holiday prep tasks, making fruitcake has become a bit antiquated. Late night talk show icon Johnny Carson once quipped, "There's only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep passing it around." This derision did not help the reputation of this once-standard holiday confection, as more and more people in this country decided to shelve the tradition during the holiday season.

Not so across the pond, where fruitcake is still quite popular. It has long been the traditional wedding cake of the Brits (though Harry and Meghan, renegades that they are, famously bucked the tradition). The custom of serving fruitcake goes way back to before modern refrigeration. Because fruitcake is typically soaked in some kind of liquor, which acts as a natural preservative, the cake could be prepared well in advance, which lent itself to wedding prep timetables back in the day.

The liquor that fruitcakes are soaked in is the sometimes-overlooked ingredient that can make or break a fruitcake, and the reason that a good fruitcake should be made weeks ahead of its serve date. Fruitcake isn't fruitcake without being, quite literally, bathed in liquor, and not doing so will ultimately result in a dry cake. The brandy, cognac, rum or Grand Marnier that is used in the recipe should also be added incrementally well before Christmas.

A good fruitcake needs love, and liquor

According to Eater, after baking the fruitcake low and slow, and allowing it to cool, you should poke holes in your cake and drizzle your liqueur of choice all over it, wrap it in plastic wrap, then tin foil, and store it in a cool, dark place. This process should be repeated weekly until you're ready to eat it. Putting the time and effort into something that will (hopefully) be enjoyed by the adult members of your family on the day when family means everything is a labor of love that can help you appreciate the cake, with all its intricate and complex flavors, the holiday, and your time spent with loved ones, a bit more.

So, as you are beginning to assemble the staples of your holiday feasts, make sure you add the fruitcake ingredients to your lists, as it should be baked, bathed and stored before the family gathers for your festivals of food. Tending to it with diligence and love over the weeks before Christmas will pay off in spades, and perhaps the oohs and ahs (and the booze) from the finished product will keep the family in a festive mood, and your holiday will be as sweet, merry and bright as the cake on the plate in the center of the table.