The Doorstop Dessert - Fruitcake - Thoughts from the SW/MW Blog at - 207803

Thoughts from the SW/MW

The Doorstop Dessert - Fruitcake 
Nov. 25, 2010 5:42 pm 
Updated: Jan. 6, 2011 9:06 am

Let’s tackle another holiday tradition that is usually either loved or hated:  the (sometimes) dreaded FRUITCAKE!  Personally, fruitcake is a treat I look forward to every Christmas.  I guess it goes along with liking mince meat!

The first fruitcakes, made in ancient Rome, were concocted with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and raisins mixed into a barley mash.  Its popularity quickly spread across Europe, with each region or country adding ingredients that were available to them. 

When sugar from the American colonies became more readily available, candied fruits were added to the mix which increased the popularity of the cake.  The incorporation of rum from the enhanced the flavor and ensured that the cakes would be preserved for extended periods (to the dismay of many).

In the UK, fruitcakes come in many varieties, from extremely light to those that are far moister and richer than their American counterparts. They remain extremely popular. The traditional Christmas fruitcake is covered in marzipan and then in white satin or Royal icing (a hard white icing made from softly beaten egg whites). They are often further decorated with snow scenes, holly leaves, and berries (real or artificial), or tiny decorative robins or snowmen. In , it is often accompanied with cheese.
In Ireland, we find Barm Brack, a dark, thickly sliced fruited bread usually toasted, buttered and served in the afternoon with tea.  The name comes from breac which means speckled, referring to the fruit in the loaf.  Unlike many countries that eat fruitcake at Christmas, the Irish eat this mostly at Halloween.

Canadian fruitcake (not a reference to our friend redneckgramma) or Christmas Cakes, are very similar to those made in the U. K.  However, they are often not iced and those made to sell are usually not “liquorized.”

Stollen (one of my favorites) is the German version of fruitcake.  It is typically more bread-like with less candied fruit and nuts.  It comes both iced and un-iced.  We order ours every Christmas from Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth, MI.  It makes a delicious toast on Christmas morn.

The Italians have three types of fruitcake:  Panforte is a chewy, dense Tuscan fruitcake dating back to 13th-century .   It is strongly flavored with spices and baked in a shallow form. Panettone is a fruitcake and 's fruitcake, a lower, denser but still crumbly variety, is called Pandolce.

Most fruitcake in the U.S. is rich with fruit and nuts.  There are many companies that ship fruitcakes around the world, but our favorite traditional cake is from Harry and David’s mail order house.  It has just enough batter to hold the fruits and nuts together. 

Here in the states, the fruitcake has been a most ridiculed dessert. Some blame the beginning of this trend with “Tonight Show” host, Johnny Carson, who joked that there really is only one fruitcake in the world, passed around from household to household.
If a fruitcake contains alcohol, it can remain edible for many years. For example, a fruitcake baked in 1878 is kept as an heirloom by a family in Michigan.  In 2003 it was sampled by Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.

Since 1995, Manitou Springs, CO has hosted the Great Fruitcake Toss on the first Saturday of every January. "We encourage the use of recycled fruitcakes," says Leslie Lewis of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce. The all-time Great Fruitcake Toss record is 1,420 feet, set in January 2007 by a group of eight Boeing engineers who built the "Omega 380," a mock artillery piece fueled by compressed air powered by an exercise bike.

If you are wondering about the title of the blog, many people – my brothers included - think that a doorstop in the best and only use for a fruitcake.  So, love it or hate it, it’s a tradition that’s here to stay.  It’s right up there with mincemeat in the love/hate department.
Here's a recipe from our dear redneck gramma that might make fruit cake haters change their minds:

1 can eagle brand milk
1 cup graham crumbs
4 cups of yummies-you pick:
   cherries, almonds, choc chunks, raisins, dates, coconut
Mix together well.
Place on greased parchment paper in an 8x8 pan.
Bake until edges brown on middle rack.
Let cool; cover with waxed paper over night.
Next day, lift out of pan and cut into small pieces.  It's very rich so cut very small pieces.
Freezes well, lasting for several months (she thinks; her crew devours it in about three days).
Nov. 26, 2010 7:25 am's a door-stop. the title is correct. and mincemeat, lawds have mercy, it ranks with cilantro ( soap is it's other name) and beets. yuk :)
Nov. 26, 2010 10:13 am
LOL Swchef, great research, yes we call it Christmas cake for the most part. Thanks for clarifying the fruit cake comment-I don't think anyone else would have come to that conclusion without you:P Might I add that recipe is NOT an original of mine, it is in several books, it's just an old hand me down recipe in my family. HAGO
Nov. 26, 2010 10:14 am
no wonder it's a doorstop if you all regift the darn thing. It has booze in it, I would think that would be enough reason to eat it on New Years Eve
Nov. 26, 2010 10:49 am
Oh, gderr - you don't like beets? or cilantro? For shame!
Nov. 26, 2010 1:23 pm
Great research SW. We maybe in the minority but I love Mince Meat, make fruitcakes every year and love cilantro!! ( you are so shallow gderr) People actually request my fruitcakes. I was down to 4 but my request list is already 7 for this year. When I bought mincemeat for yesterday I was shocked at the price - $12.00 for a jar (one pie) I'm seriousily considering canning some again next summer. Some people like rum but I prefer to inject Brandy in my fruitcakes.
Nov. 26, 2010 1:38 pm
I love fruitcake! Every Christmas, I make 1 Stolen for Christmas morning and another for New Year's morning!
Nov. 26, 2010 3:09 pm
I'm a Christmas Cake/mincemeat lover. My Mum came from Scotland as a child, and her cakes were awesome! You're right when you say that a good cake has just enough batter to hold the fruit together, and thanks to my Mum's tradition of 'christening' them, you could also wring out a good drink or two! :) I'm sending a cake to a friend this year that has been eating thin slivers off one that I sent her five years ago. She was whining that there probably wasn't enough left for both her and her DH, so he could do without....
Nov. 26, 2010 3:12 pm
I should also add That I've never met an edible commecially-made Christmas cake. That stuff is just NASTY.
Nov. 26, 2010 3:33 pm
I looove fruitcake, and covering it with marzipan and royal icing plus a decorative scene sounds right up my alley! I've collected a ton of FC recipes and never get tired of searching for more. Mincemeat-- yum! Love those old-fashioned Christmas treats!
Nov. 26, 2010 3:56 pm
My father-in-law would request mincemeat or raisin pie every year. My husband would rather have our cat lick the roof of his mouth so I don't even mention mincemeat. And as for fruitcake he is quite disdainful of it so I have learned to go without that, too. Bah Humbug to him. I still would like a slice of fruitcake with a glass of milk or cup of tea. Sigh...
Nov. 26, 2010 5:29 pm
I'll pass on the fruitcake and the mincemeat pie. I can't deal with candied fruit, it's just nasty. And I'm with Gary, I don't like cilantro either, but I love me some pickled BEETS!
Nov. 27, 2010 7:50 am
I love pickled beets w/ pickled eggs. I know this must sound strange to someone not familiar with pickled eggs, but it's a delicious accompaniment to an Easter dinner or any meal.
Nov. 27, 2010 7:51 am
Cookie Weasel - did you get the recipe from the previous blog?
Nov. 27, 2010 3:35 pm
JBOTT: Pleeeze send your friend a new cake! FIVE years???
Nov. 28, 2010 5:57 pm
Almost thirty years ago, I made my first fruitcake. I tasted the cake after an aging period of three weeks and it was delicious! My bubble was popped when nobody else would touch it because it was "fruitcake". It was several tears before I made it again exactly the same way. Being smarter this time I baked it in bundt pans and called it "Holidays Wreath Cake". It was a huge hit! I have never told antbody (until now) that what they rave about is a fruitcake.
Nov. 28, 2010 5:58 pm
Years- not tears.
Nov. 29, 2010 8:57 am
Good job, Mike! Sometimes what we don't know makes things better! Years AND tears, probably!
Nov. 29, 2010 2:17 pm
I want to make your recipe but you didn't say the oven degree? 350? 400? about how long would it bake? I'm so confused but I want to try it very soon... help!!!
Nov. 29, 2010 2:52 pm
I now the temp was 350 but not sure about the time - probably 25 minutes...maybe redneck gramma will tell us - let me go ask her!
Nov. 29, 2010 2:54 pm
She just said until the edges brown! I'd check it at 25 minutes.
Nov. 29, 2010 5:33 pm

I make 40 of these a year, call it rum cake and they will eat it, even my husband's picky family! I eat it for breakfast, yummy!
Nov. 29, 2010 6:07 pm
Thank you swchef, I will be trying this soon!
Nov. 29, 2010 9:10 pm
Let me know how it comes out!
Nov. 30, 2010 2:03 pm
Just got back from a trip to Sam's Club. Bought a Pannettone Milanese type fruit cake - very much like stollen. On the box it says: "In 1150, several knights on their way back from the Holy Land established the Rour Maries Brotherhood in Milan. In the 1800's from this ancient oven came Tre Marie, the three Maries. A tradition that is still carried-out on our recipe: 3 days of leavening, 8 hours of slow-paced cooling, and its hand-carved starburst surface texture." Mostly bread, it is excellent toasted.
Dec. 9, 2010 6:56 am
We received our annual Christmas shipment from Zhender's in Frankenmuth, MI. The stollen from there tastes even better this year! Also, I saw Giada raving about Pannettone on FoodNetwork!
Jan. 6, 2011 9:06 am
Hi SWchef. I thought fruitcake always has butter. The recipe above actually makes a cake?? Wow. It is had to believe!
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Married w/ pets + three kids and six grandkids. Retired after 30 years of teaching grades K-7. Moved to NM 10 years ago. Loved it there. Moved back to Ohio to be closer to family.
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I love to make soups. Chili, beef vegetable, ham and bean,and tortilla soups are our favs. I like casseroles - one dish dinners are the best! I think the slow cooker is about the best cooking aid in my kitchen. I love to try new recipes, that's what makes this a super website; that and all the cool contributors.
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Anything I did with my grandmother! Thanksgiving at Grandma's house was the best. She wanted to do it all - and she was a great cook. Making taffy with her was such a treat! I remember the first time she made pizza (from a box). She wasn't too sure about pizza! But in the mid 1950's, none of us midwesterners were too sure about pizza!
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When I was 13, I entered seven different baked goods (mostly cakes) in open class at the fair, competing against adult cooks with great records. I took first place with all but one entry, which got a second place ribbon.
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Looking back over the years, my biggest tragedy was making gravy...but thanks to CindyLepp, it is no longer a challenge! She sent me packets of dry gravy mixes!
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