Fruitcakes are a staple of the holiday season, but what if you don’t like them? Don’t make one and don’t buy one, right? That’s simple enough. But what if someone sends you one? What do you do with it? How do you go about getting rid of an unwanted fruitcake?
That question has inspired fruitcake haters for years, with comical results including light verse, greeting cards, and now internet videos. My own anti-fruitcake poem, aptly titled “Fruitcake,” appeared in 2004, was read aloud by Paul Harvey himself on his popular daily radio program, and is now widely posted on the internet.
Fruitcake does have its defenders, however, and they’ve responded with multimedia efforts of their own to rebut the cruel attacks on their beloved holiday treat.
The pro- and con-fruitcake battle is not likely to be resolved any time soon, as proponents and opponents are generally firm in their convictions. Nevertheless, even those who despise fruitcakes are likely to enjoy its moist and juicy cousin, the friendship cake.
It takes thirty days to make, not counting the three weeks for the starter liquid, but the result is well worth the time and effort — and may even win over relatives and friends in the anti-fruitcake camp.
2 cups Friendship Fruit Starter (see below)
1 (15 ounce) can sliced peaches with juice
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks with juice
1/2 cup white sugar
2 (10 ounce) jars maraschino cherries
2 1/2 cups white sugar
2 (18.25 ounce) packages yellow cake mix
2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups flaked coconut
Day One: In a large glass jar or bowl, combine 2 cups of the starter with 1 can of the sliced peaches and their juice (each slice chopped into 4 pieces). Add 2 1/2 cups of the white sugar and stir once every day for 10 days. When not stirring mixture, keep it covered with a paper towel, foil, or a loose lid. Let sit at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate it or cover it airtight. A pan of water underneath the jar or bowl will keep the ants out.
Day Ten: Add 1 can of chunk pineapple and it’s juice. Cut each chunk of pineapple in half. Stir in 1/2 cup of white sugar. Stir once everyday for 10 days. The color should change, and the mixture should foam when stirred.
Day Twenty: Slice each cherry in half, and stir in. Add 2 1/2 cups of the white sugar. Stir once every day for the final 10 days. The cherries will give the juice back its pinkish color.
Day Thirty: Drain fruit and reserve it and the liquid. The fruit will be used in the cake. Pour the liquid into 3 glass or ceramic pint jars. One for you to start your next cake, and two for friends. Cake must be started within 3 days after receiving the starter, or you should freeze the starter to use at a later date. Do not use plastic or metal containers to store liquid!
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9×13 inch baking pans.
It’s best to mix the two cakes separately. Combine 1 box of the cake mix, 1 box of the instant vanilla pudding, 2/3 cup of the vegetable oil, and 4 of the eggs. Stir, then add 1/2 of the drained reserved fruit from the starter. Stir, then add 1 cup of the golden raisins, 1 cup of the chopped nuts and 1 cup of the coconut. Stir until all ingredients are combined. The batter will be stiff. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Repeat for cake number two.
Bake cakes at 325 degrees F for 55 to 65 minutes.
Friendship Fruit Starter
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (15 ounce) can apricot halves, drained
1 (15 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained
1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained
1 1/4 cups brandy
1 1/4 cups white sugar
In a large glass jar, combine drained pineapple chunks, drained apricot slices, drained sliced peaches, drained maraschino cherries, brandy and sugar. Stir gently with wooden spoon. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 weeks, stirring at least twice a week. Drain and reserve the liquid. This liquid is your starter for the Thirty Day Friendship Cake.