06 December 2009

Fruitcake: Memories of Truman Capote & Sook


After compiling Sook’s recipes, Marie Rudisill, compiled a fruitcake cookbook, Fruitcake: Memories of Truman Capote & Sook. Clearly, the publisher wanted you to remember her connection to her cousin and while this does have Sook’s recipe, it has a wide assortment of other fruitcakes.

In her book Rudisill states:

Fruitcake, to Southerners, is a birthright.

While I would argue that the fruit makes a fruitcake, Rudisill says it is the flour. OF course, there is only ONE flour for Southern baking, White Lily. After 125 years in the South, White Lily was bought by Smuckers and the milling was moved out of the South. The moving of White Lily was tantamount to firing on Fort Sumter or burning Atlanta. It was a cruel blow. White Lily has never been the same! I still have a lone bag of White Lily milled in Knoxville, Tennessee and I cannot bear to open use it as it would constitute the end of an era. (And after two years, it a bit stale. Still, I’m not using it.)

One of the oldest Southern fruitcakes is the 1866 Fruitcake, most commonly known as the Lee Fruitcake.

Marie Rudisill discovered a copy of this recipe folded up inside a copy of A Life of General Robert E. Lee by John Estes Cook. It was in the dresser drawer of Bud Faulk who was an ardent Civil War collector. There was also a rattlesnake skin. It seems Bud had rattlesnake that lived for years in his dresser and when he died, so did the rattlesnake. Rudisill swears that every time she visited Bud’s cemetery, she would fine a rattlesnake coiled on his grave.


Lee Fruitcake

1/2 cup candied lemon peel
1/2 cup sliced candied orange peel
1 1/2 cups finely cut citron
1 1/2 cups candied pineapple
1 cup candied cherries
1 1/4 cup dark seeded raisins
1 1/4 cup white raisins
1 cup chopped California walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup sifted enriched flour
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups enriched flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon all spice
1teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup grape juice

Combine the peels, fruits, nuts; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of flour and mix well.
Thoroughly cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Sift together 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, salt and spices; add alternately with grape juice. Pour the batter over the floured mixture of peel, fruit and nuts. Pour into a large tube pan until 3/4 full. Do not flatten batter. Bake in a very slow oven at 250F for about 5 hours. Remove from pan and pack in air tight tin with a double layer of cheesecloth soaked in bourbon.
Bake at least three months before Christmas. Do not let the cake dry out and keep lacing it with bourbon.


Notice it says you need to bake it three months in advance, so you have an out on this one. Truth is, you can bake it and eat it right away, but soaking for 12 weeks in bourbon can’t be all bad.

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