Period Fruit Cake, Its History and Some Recipes

donna

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#1
fruitcake.jpg

The Christmas Season is here and what would Christmas be like without Fruitcake. I have great memories of fruitcake from my childhood and still love it. A good fruitcake is hard to beat.

Fruitcakes are "holiday and wedding cakes which have a very heavy fruit content. The name fruitcake can be traced back as far as the Middle Ages. It is formed from a combination of the Latin frucus and the French frui or frug."

The oldest reference to fruitcake dates to Roman times. The recipe then included pomegranate seeds, Pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed in barley mash. During the Middle Ages, Crusaders and hunters carried these cakes to sustain them over long periods while away from home.

In the 1400s, the British began their love affair with the fruitcake. By the 18th century fruitcake became very popular. A Victorian tea would not be complete without it. In America, fruitcakes became popular in the 16th century. Sugar from the American Colonies created an excess of candied fruit, which made fruitcakes more affordable and popular.

Mail order fruitcakes in America began in 1913. They are now ordered by many for Christmas.

From The History of Fruitcake by Linda Stradley in web site "What's Cooking America" and from wikipedia, Fruit cake.
 
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donna

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Fruit Cake Recipe from "Civil War Recipes", 1864

"Two and a half cups dried apples stewed until soft; add one cup of sugar; stew a while longer, and chop the mixture, to which add one half cup of cold coffee, one sugar, two eggs, a half cup of butter, one nutmeg, one teaspoonful of soda, and cinnamom and spices to taste."

Note: "This recipe needs about 2 cups of flour to hold it together."
 

donna

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Rich Fruit Cake from "House-Keeping In the Blue Grass" by the ladies of the Presbyterian Church, Paris, Kentucky, 1875.

This recipe is from Mrs. James Hughes of Paris, Ky.

"One pound flour, one pound sugar, one fourth pound butter, thirteen eggs, two pounds raisins, two pounds currants, one of citron, wine-glassful brandy, two of wine, one nutmeg, teaspoonful of cinnamon; flour fruit well. Beat the eggs into which stir all the ingredients. Bake three hours."
 

donna

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This recipe is my Granny's 7 Pound Fruit Cake. If made right, this is my favorite. She always made fruitcakes for Christmas for family and friends.

1 1/2 lb. pecans
1 cup candied cherries
1 lb. dates
6 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup whiskey or cider
3 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 lb butter
1 cup dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon soda
6 eggs
1 lb white raisins
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Cut pecans, cherries, dates in halves. Dredge in 2 cups flour. Measure molasses, add soda and nutmeg. Put in warm place to soften. Cream together butter, and sugar, add egg yolks, mix well. Sift flour and baking powder into mixture alternately with whiskey or cider. Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Stir in dredged fruits and nuts; mix thoroughly. Beat well molasses, soda and nutmeg; mix into butter; beat well. Pour into floured pans. Cook in low oven ( 250 degrees ) for four hours.

My Granny who was born in late 1890s learned from her mother who learned from her mother. Thus, this recipe goes back over 150 years. I still have my Granny's original pans she used to bake fruitcakes.
 
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#6
Mmmm, that sounds great Donna! That is nearly identical to my Grandma's hand me down recipe! Only difference is separating the eggs. I'll bet folding in the egg whites make a delicious difference. I'm going to give it a try! Thanks for sharing!
 

diane

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Mmmm, that sounds great Donna! That is nearly identical to my Grandma's hand me down recipe! Only difference is separating the eggs. I'll bet folding in the whites does make a delicious difference. I'm going to give it a try! Thanks for sharing!
Umm! I bet that's so, too - folding in the whites would lighten it. Most people make fruitcakes so heavy they become door stops handed down from generation to generation. I like one with body but if it takes the help of somebody like Hugh Jackman to lift it, it may be a little much! :happy:
 

donna

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If you don't want to make a fruitcake, try fruitcake cookies.

2 tablespoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 lb candied cherries
1/2 lb candied pineapple
1/2 lb candied citron or use candied lemon or orange
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup grape jelly
1 lb pecans, chopped
1 lb raisins

1. Preheat yoor oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet, set aside.
2. In a small bowl, with a fork, mix the baking soda and the milk until baking soda has dissolved, set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, with a wire whisk, stir the flour, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg until blended; set aside.
4. Chop the candied cherries, pineapple, and citron into small pieces; set aside.
5. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the eggs and grape jelly until well mixed. Add the flour mixture, the chopped candied fruit, the pecans, and the raisins. Add the baking soda mixture last. Stir until you have a batter.
6. Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. A light brown fruitcake cookie will have a delicate crunch to it. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes before serving.

Note: Remember if you don't like citron, use candied lemon or orange. Also remember that a tin of these cookies, make a great gift.
 
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#13
This recipe is my Granny's 7 Pound Fruit Cake. If made right, this is my favorite. She always made fruitcakes for Christmas for family and friends.

1 1/2 lb. pecans
1 cup candied cherries
1 lb. dates
6 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup whiskey or cider
3 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 lb butter
1 cup dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon soda
6 eggs
1 lb white raisins
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Cut pecans, cherries, dates in halves. Dredge in 2 cups flour. Measure molasses, add soda and nutmeg. Put in warm place to soften. Cream together butter, and sugar, add egg yolks, mix well. Sift flour and baking powder into mixture alternately with whiskey or cider. Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Stir in dredged fruits and nuts; mix thoroughly. Beat well molasses, soda and nutmeg; mix into butter; beat well. Pour into floured pans. Cook in low oven ( 250 degrees ) for four hours.

My Granny who was born in late 1890s learned from her mother who learned from her mother. Thus, this recipe goes back over 150 years. I still have my Granny's original pans she used to bake fruitcakes.
Holy Cow! I might try it! ummmm how big of a pan do you need to cook that thing?:hungry:
 

donna

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#14
Here is a Dried Apple Fruit Cake from the Smokies. This recipe will make 2 good-sized cakes.

Dried Apple Fruit Cake

Soak 3 cups of dried apples overnight in cold water enough to swell them. Chop them in the morning. Put them on the fire with 2 cups of molasses. Stir until soft. Add 1 1/2 cups of seeded raisins. Stew a few minutes. When cold add:

3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar beaten to a cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon soda diddolved in 1 cup sweet milk

Bake in a steady oven. Spices may be added. This is a delicious cake and variation on other fruitcake recipes I have posted.

From"Mountain Makin"s in the Smokies". Published by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, 1957.
 

Karen Lips

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#20
This recipe is my Granny's 7 Pound Fruit Cake. If made right, this is my favorite. She always made fruitcakes for Christmas for family and friends.

1 1/2 lb. pecans
1 cup candied cherries
1 lb. dates
6 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup whiskey or cider
3 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 lb butter
1 cup dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon soda
6 eggs
1 lb white raisins
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Cut pecans, cherries, dates in halves. Dredge in 2 cups flour. Measure molasses, add soda and nutmeg. Put in warm place to soften. Cream together butter, and sugar, add egg yolks, mix well. Sift flour and baking powder into mixture alternately with whiskey or cider. Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Stir in dredged fruits and nuts; mix thoroughly. Beat well molasses, soda and nutmeg; mix into butter; beat well. Pour into floured pans. Cook in low oven ( 250 degrees ) for four hours.

My Granny who was born in late 1890s learned from her mother who learned from her mother. Thus, this recipe goes back over 150 years. I still have my Granny's original pans she used to bake fruitcakes.
Sounds delicious!
 

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