More holiday prepping is in line here. This time, the loved (and despised) fruit cake is the object of our attention. A holiday tradition dating back as far as the 1400s when fruits from the Mediterranean region were dried to preserve them during the long ocean voyage to Britain and upon arrival considered only fit for use in these cakes, they continue to be in high demand.
Contrary to popular opinion, fresh fruit cakes are baked each year. While some re-gifting may occur (where the recipient rewraps the fruit cake and gives it to some other poor sucker…uh, I mean lucky person), many people actually like fruit cake, me included.
Many fruit cakes are made with various alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, rum, stout, and brandy, but there are still plenty of non-alcoholic versions for us teetotalers who avoid all alcohol. (I’ve had to re-gift one of those rum fruit cakes given to me by a very nice person whose feelings I didn’t want to trample.) Recipes abound and can vary from using only a few types of fruits to using a whole bunch. They tend also to include a bunch of nuts. And spices. And normal cake-type ingredients like eggs and flour and sugar.
Typical fruits, nuts, and spices used:
- candied cherries
- dark raisins, white raisins, currants, sultanas, figs
- dried apricots, peaches, pears, pitted prunes
- pineapple (usually canned)
- ground allspice, cinnamon, cloves, mace
- freshly grated nutmeg
- orange zest (peel), lemon zest (peel)
- almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans
The secret to fruit cake is the ratio of fruits and nuts to the other ingredients. It’s what makes these cakes so dense. They weigh a proverbial ton compared to other cakes their size. And they can be stored for at least a year, especially if they are the kind made with alcohol.
Stock up today and enjoy some this Summer (you never know when that “fruit cake urge” will strike).
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