Sunday, November 13, 2011


This afternoon I decided to continue a family tradition and make a Christmas cake using my Mum's recipe. Otherwise known as fruitcake, the Yuletide dessert has to be made weeks ahead of time so it can age in time for Christmas. I also pour brandy on mine every few days to help it age and to fill it with festive goodness. Towards Christmas I'll then cover the cake in marzipan and royal icing to finish it off.
Hopefully it will look something like this when it's all done.

Fruitcakes date back to ancient times. Both Egyptians and Romans made a version with pomegranate, pine nuts, raisins and barley. They became a little more like the ones we now know, during medieval times, when Europeans made sweet cakes with dried fruit, honey and nuts. These cakes were even packed by crusaders on their journeys as they were dense in calories and would keep for a long time. In the 1600s with sugar becoming more abundant, candied fruits became part of the recipes, as well as alcohol, and they became the concoctions we love (or hate) today. They were apparently seen by some as excessively decadent, during the this time, with Puritans even banning them during their brief rule in England.

My fruitcake batter.

During Victorian times fruitcakes became even more popular, and were not just served at Christmas, but also for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays etc. Because the alcohol content and candied fruit preserved them very well, it was traditional for a portion of the wedding cake to be saved to be eaten on the first anniversary. Queen Victoria once waited a whole year to eat a birthday fruitcake made for her, because she thought it showed her restraint. There is even a cake said to date back to 1878 in Tecumseh Michigan that is still edible!

An Angry Birds Christmas cake!

Christmas fruitcake recipes vary by region. The kind of Christmas cake I make, is the British variety, being dark and densely packed with fruit (I don't use nuts in my recipe) with the marzipan and icing. German varieties can be light or dark and are covered in powdered sugar. Caribbean kinds are soaked in rum and feature candied pineapple. The commercial varieties are usually not iced and can be light, or dark, and filled with more or less fruit.

Wimpy fruitcake in my opinion.

Here is my naked fruitcake. I will post further pictures once it has been iced.

What are your thoughts on Christmas cake? Love it? Hate it? Make a different variety?

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  1. Ahh, fruitcake. I don't mind it, actually. I think I was more turned off by the jokes of other people when I was younger, but now I'm like "hey. Fruitcake!"

    I didn't know they were banned at one point, lol. You learn something new every day.

    I bought one for my father-in-law last year from the big Signatures craft sale. There were instructions that came with it. I didn't realize that fruitcakes were so needy, but I took good care of it until it could be delivered and he liked it.