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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The SFoodie Advent Calendar, Day 1: Fruitcake!

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Fruitcake from Schubert's Bakery. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Fruitcake from Schubert's Bakery.

SFoodie isn't one to cover our cubicle in tinsel and pine boughs. We opted out of Black Friday, preferring to huddle up in our apartment, using meditation and whiskey to quash the mounting stress over gift-giving day. We're already sick of Christmas music. (OK, with the exception of this concert).

But Christmas cookies? The prospect of four weeks of citron and cloves, brandy and peppermint, makes our congested heart thump like that of a lovesick tenth grader. So from now until Dec. 24, we're launching the SFoodie Advent Calendar. Every weekday, we'll uncover a new Christmas or Nondenominationalwinterholiday treat, either savory or sweet, until we go on break.


It's only fitting to start the calendar off with fruitcake from Schubert's Bakery.

Fruitcake has become an Erma Bombeck joke, dismissed as an inedible brick so frequently that many people have never tried it. Which is a shame.

The current owners of this 98-year-old Richmond District bakery, Ralph and Lutz Wenzel, were raised in Germany, and they've set out bags of crunchy, dark pfeffernusse and 18-inch loaves of stollen (the one with the marzipan center is the best, said the counterperson). We picked up a small loaf of fruitcake ($7.95), and have been cutting thin slices off it every few hours.

If the cake is a tad dry, it's because it hasn't been saturated in cheap brandy. But the batter is light on the molasses, allowing the spice to show through, and each slice displays a dense matrix of candied citron, chopped walnuts, raisins, and currents. The wintertime luxuries of a past age, the fruits and nuts remind us that every Christmas cliché -- as well as every family crisis and every holiday disaster -- can be transcended if we focus on what's truly important: the sugar rush.

Have a favorite local holiday food? Leave it in the comments.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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