Most of us, at one point or another, has lost a favored recipe for whatever reason. Sometimes its a disaster, such as flood, fire or hurricane, other times it’s as simple as misplaced or accidently thrown away. On occasion, we’re fortunate enough to quickly get the recipe from a friend or family member when such a terrible happens.
Sometimes though, we’re left pursuing that elusive recipe…for years without success.
Such is my story with the Macadamia Nut Fruit Cake. Years ago, I got that recipe out of an issue of one of the holiday editions from Better Homes and Gardens. My sister had given me the magazine, so the first time I made it was more than a year after the magazine was published. So…I know it was sometime in 1980-1985 that this recipe was published in one of their Holiday/Christmas publications. I lost the magazine somehow in the 90s…and the recipe was gone with it.
I’ve searched Better Homes and Garden’s website without success. I search online periodically too, using alternative search terms such as “Hawaiian Fruit Cake” and “Tropical Fruit Cake.” I’ve had zero success finding it. Not even writing to Better Homes and Gardens and asking for the recipe has worked. I guess my next project will be going to the public library and seeing what kind of access to ancient magazines can be had, just to find that recipe, which of course, was just about the best fruit cake I’d ever tasted. (Good ones are treasures, bad ones are door stops!)
I know I always modified some things–substituting fruit juice for the liquid in the cake, I remember doing that. I may have used different dried fruit than what the recipe called for too. I know I used diced kumquats instead of orange zest in the recipe. I also know it was a light fruit cake, and it contained candied pineapple and cherries, without any citrus or citron in the mix. It used macadamia nuts, because I remember gasping at the price I paid for the tiny jars of them at the local grocery store. I think it had raisins too, likely golden ones. I know the batter was very similar to pound cake, and that the fruit mixture was all folded in at the end, before being baked in loaf pans. The cooled cakes, at least in my kitchen, were wrapped in cheesecloth, soaked in brandy, then wrapped in foil and stored in old cookie tins in the bottom of the refrigerator for about 90 days before being brought out for the holidays. (Every week, they got another dose of brandy.) Light fruitcake doesn’t store as well as dark, but it was still delicious at Easter.
I’m a skilled baker, so the only other alternative for me is to recreate the recipe, something I’ve done on numerous occasions when I’ve tasted something delicious…and the cook doesn’t want to part with their secret. We’ve all done that, or adapted a recipe to our family’s particular tastes. It’s not a frightening task, so I’m not sure why I have spent over a decade in pursuit of this exact recipe.
It must be sheer determination, right?