Friday, December 2, 2016

People Either Love Fruitcake or They Hate It

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
The earliest recipe for fruitcake came from ancient Rome. It lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into a barley mash. In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added to the mix. Recipes varied greatly in different countries throughout the ages, depending on the ingredients available as well as church regulations in some instances forbidding the use of butter. Fruitcake was used to sustain Roman Legions during their long, arduous campaigns, as well as the Christian armies during the Crusades.
Starting in the 16th century, sugar from the American Colonies (and the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits) created an excess of candied fruit. This made fruitcakes more affordable and a lot more popular. Fruitcake is thought to have made its appearance in America during the Revolutionary War.
It is unknown why fruitcakes became synonymous with Christmas, but it is thought to have been started by English nobles who passed out a slice of plum cake to poor carolers in the late 1700's.
Does anyone really eat fruitcake? It seems Southerners are a bit fonder of fruitcake - over forty percent say they not only eat it during the holidays, but actually enjoy it. Those of you who hate fruitcake, sit back, have a double shot of eggnog, and hope you don't get another doorstop this year.
My family tradition is the best part of the Christmas holidays for me. It's how my family says thank you to people in our community who've gone out of their way to be kind to us and friends we've appreciated over the years. Yes, there are people I know who love the fruitcake I bake and gift to them. Amazing, you say? As far as I'm concerned, they have excellent taste. I've even had people cry when we moved from their area because they didn't think they'd ever get another one. Surprise, two different friends found one in their mailbox around Christmastime for seventeen years.












I got my recipe from my mother-in-law 48 years ago. I'd never eaten a fruitcake up to that time, but knew the cakes were special. Every year after that I've baked three batches (six cakes in a batch) and handed all of them out but one. My hubby loves the fruitcakes, too. Some people say no thank you, and I appreciate they do not like fruitcakes and didn't want to bother to try one of mine. A lot of times I give a cake to one member of a couple, and afterwards the other half of the couple admits they tried a piece and said they really liked it.









I can attest to fruitcakes being enjoyed by people in the South. I send a cake to a family member in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Florida every year.
When my daughters were little, they'd sit on the kitchen counter, wrap their legs around the large Tupperware bowl, and stir as I put the ingredients in. I was sad when they grew up and weren't around to help me anymore. Hubby refuses to sit on the counter - what's that all about?
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In celebration of the Christmas season, I'm giving away a copy of my Northwoods Series: Christmas Surprise.
Please leave an email address so that I can contact you for information to get the book to you if you are the winner of this historical romance.
Amazon link: http://a.co/e0PwBIG

12 comments:

  1. Good, Paisley--I Twittered it for you!

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    1. Thank you for your help, Celia. Much appreciated. :)

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  2. Interesting article about the history of fruitcake, and your memories. My mom made fruitcake each year with an old family recipe from generations past. She would bake it the day before Advent started, and each week as we lit the Advent candle, she would unwrap the fruitcake very ceremoniously and pour Scotch whiskey over it. By the time Christmas Eve came around, the cake was very "aromatic" and guests loved it. As children we would get only a tiny sliver to taste. I believe this "tradition" was a Scots legacy but then the English made Plum Pudding and set it ablaze to burn off alcohol. My mum never set her fruitcake ablaze to burn off the alcohol. It might have taken flight or exploded. Haha. Thanks for bringing back a fun memory I had not thought of for years. I do love fruitcake (without booze) so maybe I will dig out the family recipe to try this year. Happy Christmas, Paisley!

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    1. Hi Ashley, I've never tasted any fruitcake except this one. It does sound like a good time over the cake after all of the whisky poured over it. :)

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  3. I never liked it, and don't buy it. Still, there must be some people out there who do.

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    1. You'd be amazed, Morgan, how many people tell me they don't like fruitcake. I give it to their spouse who loves it and not long after that the one who didn't like fruitcake was enjoying it. It never hurts my feeling if people don't want it as a gift. It's their choice. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. I love my fruitcake and have enjoyed some baked by others, but do not like the ones bought in a can. I haven't made one in years as it's such a long process and expensive. Enjoyed your post. Can't imagine the barley mash.

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    1. Thanks for visiting my post today, Linda. Making the cake, then 3 hours to bake it and then wrap it when it is cool, is almost an all day job, but I love doing it and the memories from over the years are wonderful to think about during the process.

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  5. It was fun reading how fruitcake came about. I think it was wonderful that your children helped you made baking the fruitcake a family tradition.
    My mother liked fruitcake and felt compelled to make it every year. Sometimes it was good and sometimes not so much. I don't think she ever made it the same way twice.
    I'm not a big fan of fruitcake because of the raisins in it. There one brand that I like because they have more nuts and fruit without all those raisins which, to my way of thinking, are like tine rocks in there.
    I wish you a very Merry Christmas, Paisley.

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. I wish you and yours have a great holiday season. My hubby isn't fond of raisins either. I soak them in very hot water for a while before I put them in the batter and they have never turned hard as rocks on me yet. :)

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  6. Honestly, I'm neither a lover or a hater of fruitcake. Because it was a tradition in my family's house as well, I did make it, but only after I had found the recipe that could be made into cookies instead and I added coconut. They are quite popular with our family.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Paisley!

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    1. Those cookies sound interesting, Cheri. The important thing to me is to find a tradition that the family likes and run with it. Merry Christmas to you as well. Thanks for stopping by.

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