There are so many wonderful traditions involved with Christmas. The Christmas Tree, Decorations, Presents… the Fruitcake. Okay, well maybe not the fruitcake but it can be really good if you soak it for a few years in brandy! Some choose to use wine! I’ve even had a piece with white lightning that took me a couple of years to recover from.
The fruitcake has been around since the days of the Roman Empire. I believe a few of the originals still exist! Back then, they used pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins blended into a barley mix. I’m not sure how popular it was but it lasted longer than the Empire did!
It carried over into the the Middle Ages (perhaps as shields at times for the Knights), but they added fruit, honey and various spices. The fruit had been preserved so that it could be used months after the season had ended.
As sugar became more available in Europe from the American colonies, the fruit cake became more popular during the 16th century. The recipes began to stabilize and by 1913 the fruit cake became a mail order item. It was a good gift because it could be sent in July and received in December and still be considered fresh! In 1935 the phrase “Nutty as a fruitcake” came into use as companies loaded up the fruitcake with cheap nuts. It wasn’t really any better but it was nutty! Apparently even then people who liked fruitcake were considered a little odd.
And now we have even turned them into cookies. Wow, I wonder if they last a really, really long time too!?! Well, fruitcake can be good… maybe not a lot of it in one sitting. I know one family who passed around a fruitcake for nearly 10 years, each recipient adding a little more whiskey to it each year until they finally ate it (they ran out of family members to pass it on to). No one remembers how that night ended but they do remember finishing the cake to the very last drop!
How to celebrate – Make your own fruitcake, maybe using the recipe provided. Most fruitcakes are not served with alcohol… find out why? Start your own tradition of handing down the fruitcake to the next generation.