Like Ahab hunting Moby Dick, I’ve been on an obsessive search–to find those big, fat, shiny ornaments you hang on deciduous trees outside. Finally, I hit the target. I mean Target, the store. That’s where I found them. And I’ve hung them outside as my own clenched-fist protest against the winter sky–its shortening days and longer nights:
Speaking of things Christmasy, let’s take a break from making fruitcake jokes to actually make…fruitcake. Or, rather, fruitcake bar cookies. Believe it or not, until I was in my twenties, I’d never tasted fruitcake. But after I married, I discovered that my mother-in-law not only liked it, she made batches of it every Christmas, all soaked in apple brandy, to send as gifts to friends and relatives. Her recipe was very good–a dark, dense cake filled with candied citron, orange peel, cherries and nuts and raisins, too. When she lived in Maryland, she’d go to Lexington market to find these candied treasures.
She is gone now, and I can’t recreate her fruitcake success. Her recipe was for many cakes–I tried one year to make only one loaf by doing lots of math (long division, even!) with the recipe. Me + lots of math = not-so-good-fruitcake.
Not to worry — she also left us a recipe for fruitcake bar cookies, a lighter batter but still moist and sweet. So if you happen to be among the few, the happy few, who enjoy fruitcake, here’s the recipe:
EDITH STERNBERG’S FRUITCAKE BARS
- 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsns milk
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tspn cinnamon
- (dash of nutmeg if desired)
Mix dry and wet ingredients. Batter is VERY thick.
Add: 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup candied cherries, 1/4 cup candied orange peel, 1/4 cup pineapple — whatever candied fruits you like and, really, as many of them as you like.
Spread with spoon (or your clean fingers!) in a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 1/2 hour. Cool and cut into bars.
I saved the recipe in my new recipe book. The one I made. Yes, I did.
Finally, a note about a previous post…
I wrote about my recent trip to Kansas where I met long-time writer pals for the very first time after corresponding with them for more than ten years. In looking through my photos of that trip, I came across this one, from the Kansas City Airport:
Hmm….I guess they have tornadoes out there sometimes. Would make a great setting for a fantasy tale….