How To Light Up A Fruitcake

Another Kaleberg Special Report

There are few Christmas foods more maligned than fruitcake. In truth, this is because most Christmas fruitcakes are absolutely awful. We make ours with lots of real dried fruit and our own candied lemon peel, then we soak it for weeks in bourbon. The recipe calls for glaceed cherries and the like, but we just ignore that stuff, so we get a really great fruitcake. As they say, "Garbage In, Garbage Out".

How good is our fruitcake? It is so good that we had no choice but to light it up for our Christmas table. Actually, it was some late night commercial for a special effects cookbook that gave us the idea. We make our fruitcake in a bundt pan, so it comes out of the oven as a ring. We let it ripen for a month or so, adding bourbon whenever it complains.

Then comes the big day. We put it on a silver tray and set up a small light bulb in the middle. You can see the cake on its tray with the wires running underneath it. We often put some aluminum foil or wax paper down so the wires don't get as messy. Click on this picture for a close up of the light. We use stuff from Radio Shack: a small light bulb socket, a 6 volt bulb, a couple of wires, one of those battery holders that can handle four D cells, and a pair of alligator clipped wires. We put short wires on the bulb base, just long enough to reach maybe six inches from the edge of the cake pan to the center. That way, we can carry the cake around easily, then we can set up the batteries under some shrubbery and clip things together at the last minute.

Our fruitcake on its tray

Then, we get a clear plastic deli lid from our local supermarket. These are just the right size to cover the bulb. Now we use the glaceed cherries. They really are much better outside of the fruitcake rather than inside. We have no idea how they get them to be translucent, but as you can see, they are perfect for decorating.

Fruitcake in progress Fruitcake with lid decorated

We vary the pattern from year to year. This year, 2005, we made a star. Some years we make concentric rings of color. Some years we make a Christmas tree.

Of course, in the holiday spirit of excess, we are not done yet. We hide all the awkward seams and wiring with tons of delicious hard sauce. We make this in a food processor using two sticks of butter, several cups of confectioner's powdered sugar and way too much bourbon. We just keep adding sugar and bourbon until the hard sauce starts getting whiter. The trick is to balance things so the hard sauce has some structural integrity and can be pumped through a cookie press or icing bag.

Fruitcake assembled and glowing

As you can see, we use LOTS of hard sauce. Sometimes we stick glaceed cherries in with hard sauce as accents, but this is risky. Someone might eat a glaceed cherry by mistake.

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