Loretta has this big 15-inch, crystal cake plate mounted on a sturdy base and pedestal. The plate has a deep, thick, glass cover with a knob on top. I’m guessing the whole thing stands about 20 inches tall, from knob to table, and weighs 20 pounds. The cover, alone, weighs well over five pounds.
The point I’m trying to make here is that whatever goes under that cover and gets set out where people can see it, is going to be the center of attention to anyone who wanders into the same room where it is sitting.
If I do say so myself, my blemish-free fruitcake, ever-so-lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar, looked the model of glass covered perfection as it sat there in the dining room from dawn on the day before Christmas until we finally served dinner at 6 p.m. on the big day.
In retrospect, I can’t believe no one took a picture.
But anyway, when Loretta helped herself to the first slice, sniffed the bite on her fork and finally popped it into her mouth where she rolled it around for several seconds, I sat back, holding my breath and waited for the verdict.
After she swallowed, she nodded her head and said, “Oh, it’ll do. It’s very good, but it’s still not in the same league as Bob’s.”
The verdict was better than I’d expected. The fact my too-discerning wife declared it anything better than edible was enough. The fact she mentioned it in the same breath as our friend’s fruitcake is nothing short of high praise.
My pal, Bob, who lives in New Haven, Conn., is director of operations for Yale’s Timothy Dwight College. He takes the time, every year, to bake fruitcakes for me and three other close friends.
Bob bakes his cakes in a bread loaf pan, wraps them in cling wrap and ships them in sturdy, cardboard, USPS priority- mail packages. Our mail man pulls into the driveway, honks because he has something that won’t fit in our mail-box, and then closes his eyes and takes one last deep sniff of the package.
We don’t even have to look at the return address to know who it’s from and what’s in it. Loretta always says we ought to keep the Bob cake and serve it at a holiday meal. I always say “sure” as I unwrap it, put it on a serving tray and start a pot of coffee. The truth of the matter is I am sharing this cake with anybody except Loretta. The package had just my name on it and I’m calling the serving shots. If she wants any, she’d better be grabbing a plate.
So, for 10 mornings or so after its arrival, we both savor a slice of Bob’s fruitcake. I usually sneak another right before I go to bed. The cake would not last as long if I didn’t have diabetes.
I believe that I’m using most, if not all, the same ingredients in my humble attempt as Bob does in his. However, the final product that I turn out is not even close to his. On the bright side though, my cake will still be around for at least a month. We had to struggle to make Bob’s last 10 days.