Fruitcake! People love it or hate it. Rarely ever do you hear someone say about fruitcake, “It’s okay.”
Some hate the candied fruit and nut Christmas confection with such fervor that they have made it the brunt of many jokes.
Take Johnny Carson and his description of the Christmas fruitcake, “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other, year after year.”
Others, who may have more favorable memories of the ancient, holiday cake may have been inspired to make it the focus of a Christmas story.
"Oh, my! It's fruitcake weather!!" That line is a famous quote from Truman Capote’s short story, “A Christmas Memory” in which elderly, eccentric cousin Sook announces to her young cousin, Buddy, (autobiographically Capote, himself) that it is time to begin making fruitcakes. Each year these oddly bonded best friends save their money, collect the pecans left over after the orchard harvest, purchase citron, flour, butter and eggs and make fruitcakes for randomly selected strangers.
When I was growing up my “Buddy” was not my seven year old cousin, but my father, Buddy Shouse. As owner of a material supply company in Ft. Worth, Texas, Daddy often received Christmas gifts from his clients. One of our family favorites was the annual arrival of the fruitcake from Collins Street Bakery. My sisters and I fell into the category of folks who loved fruitcake and the arrival of that wreath shaped cake, topped with candied cherries and pecans, beautifully packaged in a Christmas tin was visions of sugarplums dancing right into our kitchen.
Love it or hate it, the fruitcake is here to stay as is the famous Collins Street Bakery. They have a huge mail-order business, shipping cakes all over the world, and they have a reputation for baking one of the finest cakes ever.
Collins Street now has five Texas locations including the original bakery, located in the historic town of Corsicana, Texas.
An hour’s drive from Dallas, my friend Becky and I drove south on I-45 Friday morning in search of the traditional fruitcake and more.
A full service bakery, Collins Street offers loaves of bread, cheesecakes, cookies, sandwiches and soups to name a few items for purchase or to enjoy on site. I bought a dozen cherry cookies to bring home and freeze for Christmas. They are one of my grandson Jake’s favorite cookies. I also bought praline cookies in addition to the fruitcakes. The bakery is currently offering a special of buy one and get $10.00 off the second cake.
Next door to the bakery is a “reject” shop where cakes that did not quite make the grade can be purchased for $8 to $10 off the retail price. Remember, I said the bakery has a reputation for “one of the finest cakes ever” so if a big Texas pecan is broken or a cherry out of place, it will not be shipped or sold at full price.
The reject store is a great deal for someone who is not looking for a gift, but a cake to serve on their own holiday buffet.
After lunch Becky and I visited a few of the charming shops on the square and stopped to enjoy the small town’s Christmas decorations.
Another short day trip from Dallas, downtown Corsicana is a charming square of shops and eateries any time of the year, but especially momentous during “fruitcake weather.”
What to do with left over fruitcake? Make a fruitcake bread pudding.
1 lb fruitcake
3 cups milk*
½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix sugar and eggs together, add milk
Tear or cut fruitcake into bite sized pieces. Pun in baking dish or oblong casserole dish.
Pour milk mixture over and let soak in fridge for 15 minutes (or longer).
Sprinkle top with cinnamon.
Bake for 30 minutes.
*If you want to add a little extra pizzazz to your desert, reduce the milk by ½ cup and add ½ cup of bourbon or brandy.