OK, let’s talk about the one thing that gets the most criticism during the holidays—fruitcake! Just the mention of it makes some people crazy, and others hear it and can’t wait! And I just wonder how many recipes are out there for this trivial treat.
My most favorite fruitcake of all is an Icebox Fruitcake my Grandmother Norton made every year. And believe it or not, it was a no-bake recipe! My family could eat an entire loaf in no time flat! I have her handwritten recipe, and I just love the haphazard listing of ingredients—“A batch of pecans, a jar of cherries, graham crackers,” and many other non-measured ingredients. I adore reading it!
The truth is, only she knew how many pecans were in “a batch,” and she bought only one size jar of cherries. Her intuition in the kitchen was incredible—just a quick stir and a few hours of chilling, and out came her masterpiece and beloved family favorite! Now, I am on mission to figure out the measurements and make this cherished delicacy.
Isn’t it strange how those candied fruits turn up only during Christmas? According to Wikipedia, candied fruit has existed since the 14th century. Whole fruit, smaller pieces, or pieces of peel, are placed in heated sugar syrup, which absorbs the moisture from within the fruit and eventually preserves it. Depending on size and type of fruit, this process of preservation can take from several days to several months. This allows the fruit to retain its quality for a year. So, there you have it!
I think this year I am going to bake a fruitcake with only the fruits I like. Because if you only put in fruits you like, then you should like the cake! Simple logic, right? My plan is to start with a basic spice cake and add in nuts and fruits from there. This should be interesting.
I really could write a book on this very subject. I did a little research and found that fruitcake varies in each country. The candied fruit, nuts, and spices are standard, but some countries soak the fruits and nuts in rum before making the cake.
Apparently, the traditional methods of preserving the cake in liquors and rums will permit the cake to be edible for years. Years! That led to a little more research only to find that a 106-year-old fruitcake discovered in 2017 by the Antarctic Heritage Trust was described as in “excellent condition” and “almost” edible.
Well, I’m not looking for “almost edible,” and I don’t need this cake to keep for years to come. I simply want a delicious recipe to enjoy during the holidays!
So, back to the question at hand: Do you have a scrumptious recipe for fruitcake?
Not sold on fruitcake but still want a scrumptious treat to serve your family this Christmas? Check out this festive issue of Cooking with Paula Deen. Shop by clicking below!