News & Politics

Best of 2005: Great Fruitcake – Honest

Fruitcake, a staple of the American holiday season since Colonial times, now shows up more often in jokes than on tables. Nobody outside monasteries seems to have time for the slow baking and aging required.

One of the best local examples is made by the Trappist monks at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia (540-955-9494; A 36-ounce, brandy-laced cake studded with nuts and candied fruit costs $20.

Nancy Pollard, owner of the Alexandria cookware store La Cuisine (323 Cameron St.; 703-836-4435), prefers to make her own. For several years Pollard has been conducting a one-woman crusade to revive the fruitcake. The two secrets, she says, are top-quality glacé fruit and Muscovado brown sugar rather than the supermarket variety. She sells both in her shop, the fruit assembled from such diverse sources as Australia and Italy. Her favorite recipe, from her mother-in-law, Dorothy Remington, is on the shop's Web site (

Washingtonian staffers contributing to this section were Cristina Abello, Susan Baer, Susan Davidson, Ken DeCell, Rebecca Dreilinger, Kim Isaac Eisler, Mary Clare Fleury, Kimberly Forrest, Brooke Lea Foster, Garrett M. Graff, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, Aparna Nancherla, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Chris Wilson. Also contributing were Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Matthew Graham.