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
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
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).