Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fruit Cake




Christmas is around the corner and this is about the time to start baking fruit cake and have it 'mature' in brandy, in time for December 25.  I cherish fruit cake for being a traditional reminder of my mother's home-baking and all things Christmas.  Hence, I can never quite understand the connotations that come with it these days, i.e. passing a box of fruit cake around households as an unwanted gift, just like champagne.  Anyone who bakes fruit cake will tell you that it can be quite laborious to chop up the dried fruit and nuts and to weigh out the proportions nicely.  Yet, the end result pays off sweetly, both literally and figuratively.

Oftentimes when I am in Singapore, I might drop by Ah Teng's Bakery at the Raffles Hotel to buy a few slices of fruit cake.  The cake was probably the best feature of my wedding dinner at the hotel back in 2000.  My friends still chuckle when they recall the scene of my father haranguing the Chinese banquet chef in the hallway for not meeting his exact standards.  The cake, trimmed with a delicate layer of royal icing, made up for the less than stellar meal.  The cake was quintessential Raffles Hotel offering, a subtle reminder of a colonial past.

Hopefully, if you are attending the Singapore Writers' Festival this week, at the nearby SMU location, you will find an opportunity to pick up a few slices of Ah Teng's fruit cake.  Alternatively, you could try to bake one yourself using my mother's recipe on page 117 of "Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen". 

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