A fruitcake story in place of the fruitcake I never made

I missed out on doing something nice for my husband this Christmas.

I didn’t make him a fruitcake.

He’s one of the few people I know who loves fruitcake of all kinds. He loves the store-bought version, but when I read about a traditional West Indian “Black Cake” in one of my favorite books — Laurie Colwin‘s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen (1988) — I really wanted to make him that kind of fruitcake myself.

My now-tattered “Home Cooking” book, a gift from a fellow magazine editor, Christmas 1988

So I bookmarked Laurie’s recipe in home-for-the-holidays anticipation.

And because I pay $40 annually for a NYTimes Cooking subscription and bloody well try to get my money’s worth, I also set aside a “Black Cake” recipe from that collection, too.

Of course, I didn’t get around to making that recipe — even though, back when it was 95 degrees in October, it was fun to think about a forthcoming December day of buying all kinds of expensive ingredients to mix and drench in brandy and rum.

It would be just as much fun to make during a snowy week in January. Right, right?

So in the meantime, I offer you this great story by our United Methodist Communications colleague, Crystal Caviness, about an Alabama congregation’s secret fruitcake recipe that has raised money and built relationships for three decades. That gorgeous fruitcake photo is from Crystal’s story and Robertsdale United Methodist Church in Robertsdale, Alabama.

“There is camaraderie and storytelling and joking,” says the Rev. Jonathan Hart. “When you are (making fruitcakes), part of the value is being able to serve alongside people and having a sense of community, even as you know you’re doing something for somebody you may never meet. People go home physically exhausted, but it’s just so spiritually and emotionally uplifting for everybody that participates.”

See Fruitcake: One church’s secret to fundraising and more by Crystal Caviness, Dec. 18, 2019

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