(Nancy Leson's in London this week. We had hoped to do a "Live from London" show but the Spirit of Technical Difficulties has intervened. We'll catch up with Nance about her London trip, what she had to eat there, and the gift she received from 400 of her closest friends on the airliner, in next week's installment. Meantime, in response to a suggestion from listener Tab, who thinks Nancy and I are well qualified to discuss fruitcakes...)
After decades of, well, fruitless requests from her husband Mac, Nancy Leson has finally baked him a homemade cake. And this one has plenty of fruit.
Mac's memories of fruitcakes concocted by his father’s secretary gave him what Nancy calls an "old hunger."
“He longed for the stuff," she recalls. "He said it was boozy and dark and took months to prepare. She used to use like a bottle of brandy on every fruitcake.”
After decades of resistance, Nancy finally agreed to get out the cake pans.
She used a recipe Mac found for Trinidad Black Cake in an old issue of Saveur magazine online. For those who would follow in Nancy's fruitcake footsteps, here are her tips and substitutions:
Don't forget to remove the star anise and cinnamon stick before you puree the boozed up fruit.
Instead of burnt sugar syrup, Nancy used the date syrup she had handy. Molasses would probably be fine, too.
With no cherry brandy on hand, she turned to the favorite illicit liquor of her underage days, Cherry Kijafa – a concoction whose taste she now describes as “grotesque.”
She also mentions that the quantity given for that brush-on dark rum mix is described only as “generous.” Nance says she used “a lot.” Here’s a video to resolve the rumbiguity.
"A geological homemade cake" – Charles Dickens on fruitcake