Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Infamous FRUITCAKE

Have you ever wondered about the history of the fruitcake? Well for some reason I did tonight. Don't ask me where that thought came from. Every once in awhile I'll have a random thought or question that inspires me to look up the answer! Anyway, I found some interesting historical facts about the infamous fruitcake.



Fruitcakes are holiday and wedding cakes which have a very heavy fruit content. They require special handling and baking to obtain successful results. The name "fruitcake" can be traced back only as far as the Middle Ages. It is formed from a combination of the Latin fructus, and French frui or frug.

The oldest reference that can be found regarding a fruitcake dates back to Roman times. The recipe included pomegranate seeds. Pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash. Honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added during the Middle Ages. Crusaders and hunters were reported to have carried this type of cake to sustain themselves over long periods of time away from home.

1400s - The British began their love affair with fruitcake when dried fruits from the Mediterranean first arrived.

1700s - In Europe, a ceremonial type of fruitcake was baked at the end of the nut harvest and saved and eaten the next year to celebrate the beginning of the next harvest, hoping it will bring them another successful harvest. After the harvest, nuts were mixed and made into a fruitcake that was saved until the following year. At that time, previous year's fruitcakes were consumed in the hope that its symbolism would bring the blessing of another successful harvest

In the early 18th century, fruitcake (called plum cakes) was outlawed entirely throughout Continental Europe. These cakes were considered as "sinfully rich." By the end of the 18th century there were laws restricting the use of plum cake.

Between 1837 and 1901, fruitcake was extremely popular. A Victorian "Tea" would not have been complete without the addition of the fruitcake to the sweet and savory spread. Queen Victoria is said to have waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste.

It was the custom in England for unmarried wedding guests to put a slice of the cake, traditionally a dark fruitcake, under their pillow at night so they will dream of the person they will marry. I wonder if this still works? ;)

12 comments:

soulchocolate@hotmail.com said...

lol that last para you blogged about placing the fruit cake under your pillow makes me smile; sounds like a typical old wives' tale; it would be fun to try it out though- without my constant worry of waking up the next day with zits from the butter and crumbs all over my pillow;-)

Grace said...

i've never understood the hatred for fruitcake--when it's done right, it's absolutely delicious! thanks for the history lesson. :)

Rowena said...

The thing about fruitcake that just occurred to me is when/why did it become a term to describe someone who is crazy. I just found the answer on Wikipedia:

Fruitcake is also used, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States, as slang for a 'crazy person'. It is derived from the expression "nutty as a fruitcake", which was first recorded in 1935.

Followed your link through Noodlegirl. Great site!

Teresa R said...

Alton Brown of Good Eats did a segment on the fruitcake one time. Entertaining, but I'm still not a fruitcake fan. I have to try my hand at Stollen though (a bready fruitcake, IMO)...my dearest friends who always made it for us at Christmas moved across the country, but left us all their candied fruits so we could make our own.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

So much yummy stuff has arrived since last I visited. You celebrate in delicious style! I am not a fan of fruitcake, b ut I LOVE the history lesson. I am a fan of broccoli and cranberries . . . gotta try those recipes. : D

Noodlegirl said...

lol so funny I got fruit cake yesterday! You know some chinese in Singapore still use that as a token gift when their guest leave. Each Guest get a small slice!Well at least the last wedding I did longgggg time ago now sure about now I guess they got that from being a British Colony long time ago!

Tracey said...

I love fruitcake..I've only had one in my life tha was really, really good. I think it's festive and wonderful. How much more Christmasy can you get with all those red and green candied fruit.. Thanks for telling the misunderstood history of the fruitcake..

Maria said...

My dad loves fruitcake. I have never really tried it!

Melissa said...

Michelle,

Now I am educated in fruitcakes. I learn so much from you.

Melissa

lvroftiques said...

Hi Michelle!! Things I never knew about fruitcake! And I actually like the stuff! Lol!! Thanks for the lesson! And thanks for visiting me and putting me on your blog roll! I can see that we like so many of the same things! I adore all your favorite movies! And I'm mama to 4 dogs and one cat (who thinks he's a man!) Lol!! So animal lover supreme here *winks* Anyhoo I can't wait to read more of your blog! *smiles* Vanna

Joanna said...

i never knew fruitcake was so interesting! pom seeds in fruitcake sounds a bit odd, but i guess the romans were a little wacky anyways haha

Tea Time With Melody said...

I can officially say, I hate Fruitcake. I am just a light anf fluffy cake kinda girl. lol