Aunt Wilma, being Osteen, White Fruitcake, and CHRISTmas!!

It’s beginning to look a lot like CHRISTmas……or as soon as the fruitcake’s in the oven, it will be!  And not just ANY fruitcake…. it has to be my Aunt Wilma’s White Fruitcake.

My Mother LOVED her sisters.  And why wouldn’t you?  A sister is a very special gift to one’s heart.  There’s just something about that person who grew up in the same home, with the same parents, and had the same experiences that unites and bonds!  Mother always thought her sisters were the best cooks in West Tennessee and she LOVED making their recipes.  I think it made her feel close to them.  And I get that.  I feel the same way about my sister….. Phyllis Jane!

And so my sister and I have continued to carry on our Mother’s tradition…. every year we make Aunt Wilma’s White Fruitcake.  Some years Phyllis has made TWO of them!  And actually one year I made two…. the first one didn’t turn out very good — it was dry.  And so I decided to shellac it (yes… I really did) and thus I turned it into the proverbial doorstop!  But it really was quite the festive decoration!  I would haul it outta the attic every year and it always looked beautiful, sitting out on my kitchen counter!  But then I got to worrying that it might attract mice up there during the hot summer, so I eventually pitched it!

One year I got to wondering if Aunt Wilma had any idea how special her White Fruitcake recipe had become to my sister and I.  So when I made it that year, I Fed-Ex’d her a piece, along with a thank-you note!  I’ve also mailed slices to my brother and sister-in-law in Tucson.  And I’ve mailed it to Rachel in Pennsylvania!  (It arrived FROZEN!!  Gets cold up there in PA, evidently!) But Rachel, who was somewhat of a less-than-exurbrant recipient, was subequently removed from all future fruitcake lists.  Interestingly enough, however, Rachel must have had somewhat of a fruitcake epiphany this year, because from outta nowhere she sent me a text a week or so ago asking if she could have a second chance…. would I send her a piece of Aunt Wilma’s White Fruitcake again this year?  In the spirit of CHRISTmas love and joy, I’m extending grace and will be Fed-Ex’ing again to PA!  Fruitcake is a lot like love……  it needs to be shared!

Well, my Aunt Wilma, and my Mother, and all her sisters are gone now.  They all celebrate CHRISTmas in Heaven.  That makes me so happy…. even though we miss them here.  But for as long as my sister and I are able, we will continue to bake the cake in memory of the Osteen girls…. Aunt Wilma’s White Fruitcake.  Why would we not?

Dates from the groves in Dateland, Arizona, pecans from Georgia, and European Butter…         why would you not?
The “pan prep” is crucial!
It’s a stiff-mix, but persevere!!!  Mix it well!
Mother always said to put a pan of water in the oven as it bakes…. keeps it from being dry!

So the cake of 2017 is in the oven…. a done deal…. and without a hitch.  Well, there was one little hitch, but I’m hoping it’s not going to be an issue.  That said, when I was cutting up my dates (my snobby Choice Medjool Dates that were literally hanging on the trees just a few short weeks ago in Dateland, Arizona), ……but one itty bitty pit somehow made it past my probing fingers!!! Opps!!!  I did look for it, but to no avail.  So I tried to convince myself that perhaps that particular date had no pit.  Can there be a pit-less date?lg6V2SI+QGCNWfw9eyEi5QI just hope it’s either me or my sister who gets that piece of fruitcake.  Or maybe the recipient will just assume it’s a pecan shell.  People like “organic” these days, so I hear!!!

16 thoughts on “Aunt Wilma, being Osteen, White Fruitcake, and CHRISTmas!!

  1. Well, as I read this while in Dollywood, I had to wipe a tear from my eye as I recall our precious mother and her love for Aunt Wilma’s fruitcake. She certainly passed it on to us. One year I was on a crazy diet and decided against making one. BIG MISTAKE! Never again. I’ll be over to test your cake soon!

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  2. What a sweet tribute to your mom and her sisters and Phyllis! I remember your dry fruit cake and I think I was the one who talked you into shellacing it as I had done that to some loaves of bread. I remember you has cut one slice out and it was too pretty to throw away.

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    1. You are EXACTLY RIGHT! It WAS you!!! I had forgotten that! And yes….. there was a fairly big slice out of it, which made it beautiful! THANK YOU, for reminding me of that sweet memory! I kept that thing for years! You really did have a great idea! (Or maybe you just weren’t a fruitcake connoisseur and you thought EVERY fruitcake should be shellacked! 😂😂) When you get back from Cabo, you’ll have to come over for coffee and fruitcake! It’s a lovely CHRISTmas tradition!


      1. You’re awesome ,loved reading this tribute. I’ve got my moms recipe books and I’m making her favorite ones this year . Thank you


  3. So sweet a memory.Sadly my mother couldn’t bake.😉when I was small my daddy worked for Rainbo we would get one of their amazing fruitcakes.I remember I’d get so excited it came in the most beautiful red tin. Mom made what was a 60s no bake refrigerator fruitcake.😕😝 it was a time of those aluminum trees& jiffy pop.ha ha .geez that fruitcake was awful.But my mom & aunt thought they were the best thing since sliced bread 😄😂 I think it’s sweet that you keep those recipes alive for all your y’all🎄🎅

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    1. I LOVED you comments and your memories about your Rainbow fruitcake and the 60’s no-bake cake, and aluminum trees and Jiffy Pop! Hysterical! And I can’t believe that you wrote this on December 4th and I’m just now seeing it! But thankfully I did eventually see it! And it blessed my day so! Happy New Year to you and your sweet family!


  4. Love this fruitcake story, Kathy. This is how I see my grandmother Clarkston’s lemon pies…carrying on a tradition. I make 2-3 them every year for Thanksgiving. And I always made my dad one in August for his birthday and one for Christmas. He’s in heaven now with my grandmother. Every time I make lemon pies, it’s a little sad, but I’m glad too. Glad to keep the recipe living on. And when there’s no lemon pies in my fridge, I’m known to sometimes find the pure lemon extract in my spice cabinet and have a sniff, I call it, “lemon-pie high.” Still my story wanes in comparison to this. No shipping or freezing or shellacking or any fun stuff like that. 🙂

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    1. I don’t know… that “lemon-pie high” is pretty note-worthy!! That’s hilarious! As it turns out, I was just a little disappointed in the cake of 2017!! It wasn’t as “white” as it should be. It seemed like the buttery batter “browned” on me! I’m wondering if I cooked it too long (it bakes like 4 hours!) I’m considering a do-over! But it is definitively edible, just not my usual spectacular! (But no shellacking this year!!)


  5. I’m so happy that I’m re-listed! Yaaaay for fruit cake! Who knows? I might even bake my own, but with Costco dates and butter.

    I hope I get the piece of pit….if I do, do I get a prize?

    And the shellacked fruitcake bit is HILARIOUS! And also, I kind of want one.

    All my love to you, Kathy Little!

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    1. I hate to tell you this, but my 2017 Fruitcake is not my best effort! I’m even considering a do-over! So I’m somewhat reluctant to send it to you. I don’t want to discourage you forever from the be-jeweled wonder of Fruitcake! I just keep eating and eating and eating the thing….. trying to convince myself that “it’s not that bad”! And actually, Carl thinks it’s good. But I thought it was a bit dry. He reminded me that last year I thought it wasn’t done enough. But I think I prefer underdone to overdone. It’s just not as “white” as it should be! And horror of horrors (and this is hard for me to admit) ….. I think my dates give it an off-taste. Sorry Dateland:( They had various kinds and I thought I was using “the best ones” when I used the “choice medjools” instead of the “traditional medjools”. Nope… after the fact I found out it was the opposite. Bummer. I used dates that were considered “seconds”. I just SHUDDER as I type that out. I hang my head in shame. Aunt Wilma, I just shouldn’t have been such a snob, huh! And I had the “traditional madjools”…. I just thought I’d save them for some secondary use like date bars or date pinwheels. But instead…. my precious fruitcake has suffered a great injustice.


      1. Well, couldn’t ya just make another one? Is that a stupid question? I mean, I have heard of some varieties of fruitcake that take weeks of marination in whisky or some such thing, but yours you just mixed up and baked in a day. And if you already have those traditional medjools ready to go, what’s the harm? AND, you could always just shellac this one.

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      2. Just make another one, you say? This isn’t exactly like whipping out brownies. It’s a commitment. But I’m thinking I’m up for it! I’ll keep you posted! And quite frankly…. the 2017 model is not shellack worthy! It’s just not that attractive.


    1. OH GOOD GRIEF!!! I forgot you! Shame on me! But in my defense (and you, being a lawyer and all, should certainly get that!!)…. I had a bit of a set-back. Me and Carl had “THE BUG”! But we’re all better now and that cake is sitting out in my chilly garage pantry, just waiting to be cut, packaged, and shipped! I’ll DO THAT! Maybe today. Maybe right now. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. But I will say… and maybe I already did…. it isn’t my best offering. I’ve had it turn out better in the past, so bear that in mind when it arrives and give me some grace. Don’t go back to shunning Fruitcake just because you get one a bit off-color. Fruitcakes are a lot like ball teams…. a true fan remains loyal REGARDLESS! That’s why we’ll even eat a BAD fruitcake (if there is such a thing) and still declare it’s merit and worth!


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