Fruitcakes Revisited, a short history and love affair
Everything you need to know about fruitcakes - their history and amazing legacy and a guide to some of my famous fruitcake recipes including Black Cake and Apricot Brandy Fruitcake, in A Passion for Baking, Oxmoor House, 2007 and The New Best of BetterBaking.com, Whitecap Books 2009, respectively.
Fruitcakes from the Baker
Fruit cakes stayed ensconced in Britain, Australia and New Zealand but somehow we North American colonialists merely tolerate it. Aside from several references to ‘Martha Washington’s Great Cake’ - a cholesterol and calorific wonder of 40 eggs and four pounds of butter, which comes up in several vintage American cookbooks, most prized fruitcake recipes hail from Britain. Aside from this being a palatial issue, to my mind, this lack of respect is entirely due to places like hardware stores and pharmacies, bless ‘em all, selling less-than-stellar fruitcakes, pretty well killing the notion that fruitcakes can be sheer delight.
The controversy continues with protests that candied fruits are just insufferable, or the evils of marzipan or royal-icing crusted wedding fruitcakes. Not to mention, and this is something more and more people will declare and food writers get het up about: there is simply no more cake in fruitcake…it is simply fruit with a tablespoon of spiced up batter holding it together. In any event, I am unashamed to admit that fruitcakes are still adored by us professional bakers. We see it as a special event that marks our calendar along with Buche Noel (which is the so-wholly Gaelic ‘take that’ response of French pastry chefs) - an occasion to go all out and produce the most replete, fruitcake ever - awash in brandy or whiskey, lovely candied fruits and a heady batter of butter, fresh eggs and flour. Aged fruitcake preparations begin now - and both the pros and home bakers alike, pride themselves on their special fruit and spice mix. In fact, nothing brings out the testosterone in the average baking grandma then asking what constitutes a better fruitcake. Like dark of light fruitcake? With jam or a grated apple or two, white or brown sugar, macerate fruit before or not, brandy, wine, rum or naught, green cherries nor only red, nuts or not, baking powder or none, coat with apricot jam or a overcoat of marzipan or just cheesecloth soaked spirits? Well. How to please everyone. Easy. If you have a family fruitcake recipe you adore, turn this page. If not, and you think you hate fruitcake, preheat your oven. Three recipes - Aged (aka Traditional Medium Fruitcake, not dark, not light: medium), Ageless (aka Fruited Tea Brack - no aging required, low end, a lovely tea cake and New Age (aka Golden Apricot Pecan Fruit Cake - good aged or not - for candied fruit loathers - bound together with a lashing of Triple Sec of Cointreau). So - choose a fruitcake. Tuck into some or simply tuck a slice under your pillow. Either way, it’s staying stuff.
© This is a Marcy Goldman/BetterBaking.com original recipe
This recipe is for sole, personal use of visitors of BetterBaking.Com Online Magazine. Marcy Goldman/ BetterBaking.com recipes are for your enjoyment but not to be posted or reprinted without express permission of the author/baker. Thank you kindly for respecting my copyright and happy baking. BetterBaking.Com, established 1997.