Written by Grace Lommel: DEXTER - The recipes came from Mom, Betty Crocker and The New York Times at the 3rd annual Fruitcake Bakeoff and Holiday Reception at the Abbott Memorial Library on Saturday, Dec. 11.
Ten fruitcakes were entered this year, ranging from a two-layer round yellow-frosted yellow cake with yellow raisins to a ring packed with candied fruit in a dense, dark cake. “This shows that all fruitcakes are not alike,” said Toni May of Wellington, one of the three judges and a professional chef. “All of them were excellent.”
“I wanted to make something light and cheery,” said first-time contestant Tim Soule of Dexter about his 1950 Betty Crocker recipe for a yellow fruited cake with lemon and pineapple frosting.
“My mother made it for many years,” said Louise Irish of Dexter regarding her classic loaf fruitcake with raisins, dates, cherries, pineapples. This was Irish's third year participating. “They told me either enter or be a judge. I judged last year so here I am with my fruitcake.” Irish worked for 25 years at Eastland Woolen Mill as a quiller, putting yarn on the bobbins.
Also judging this year were Peter Prescott (board member) and Muriel Worden, both of Dexter. To enter, each cake had to weigh at least two pounds and contain fruit. Judging was 20 percent appearance and 80 percent flavor and texture. For the flavor, judges agreed that the spices shouldn't overwhelm. For the texture, the ideal fruitcake shouldn't be too moist or too dry, with just enough cake to bind the fruit and nuts.
The judges' comments included “too cake-y,” “dry but good taste,” “exquisite bourbon grapes as garnish” and “great nuts.” Once the judging was done, all the fruitcakes were available to sample and coffee was provided in china cups.
“Last year it was fun and I got to taste them all,” said Corinne Neal of Dexter regarding why she entered. “I like the way I make it.” Neal ran the Dexter Café for 15 years until she sold it in 2006.
The winner, Sandy Graham of Long Island, NY, received $25. Second prize of $15 went to Sue Pooler of Harmony with her Natural Fruitcake loaf recipe. And third prize of $10 went to Mary Morancie of Dexter. The prizes would've been doubled had the winning recipe come from a library cookbook. There was only one such entry.
“This was my first time entering, said third place winner Morancie. “I said if I'm home I'm going to enter. I like fruitcake.” Morancie won with her 1960 newspaper recipe clipping that she has tweaked over the years.
“I love fruitcake and everybody laughs at it,” said Liz Breault, Librarian and organizer of the annual event. “There seem to be two kinds of people: those who hate fruitcake and those who love fruitcake. But every year we get more fruitcakes.”
“I've never done anything like this,” said Helen Smith of Brownville about her fruitcake entry. “It sounded like fun and I needed to get out of the house.”
PHOTO: Third-prize recipient Mary Morancie (left) is congratulated by Abbott Memorial Librarian Liz Breault at 3rd annual Fruitcake Bakeoff and Holiday Reception. (Grace Lommel photo)
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