Blumenauer bakes 264 fruitcakes; hand delivers them around Capitol Hill

There are many critics of fruitcake, especially Christmas fruitcake. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is certainly not one of them.

The Oregon Democrat this week has been walking up and down the halls of Congress, delivering some of the 264 fruitcakes he baked for his colleagues, staffers and friends, like Rep.George Miller (D-Calif.), one of Wednesday's lucky recipients (pictured here). 

The avid bicyclist calls these his “drive-by cakings,” and says the personal contact gives him a chance to exchange Christmas greetings.

The fruitcake-making process begins about 3,000 miles from Capitol Hill, with a daylong shopping trip in early November. The ingredient list for 260 plus cakes requires that Blumenauer make two or three trips to different stores, just to get all the elements in order.  He likes shopping for so many fruitcakes, he says, finding the baking tins, cheesecloth, candied fruit, industrial-sized cartons of raisins and currants, and the perfect wrapping.

Back at his cabin in the woods, Blumenauer sets up huge vats for soaking the dried fruits in rum, and heats huge pots for melting the butter. He spends the weekend enjoying time to, "just bake and reflect on the year, work, and what's ahead."

It's the “Zen of the Fruitcake,” he says, and by all accounts the results are delicious.

Blumenauer first began making fruitcakes about twenty-five years ago, over a long Thanksgiving weekend retreat at a cabin on the Oregon coast. He made 12, and gave them to friends and family.  The following year, he made a few extras; he found he enjoyed the methodical, multi-step process. Soon, what began as 12 fruitcakes turned into 20, 30, 100 ...  culminating in this year's record of 264 individually wrapped cakes.