A Christmas Controversy – the Fruitcake

Before you roll your eyes and start making door-stopper jokes, listen up. The fruitcake comes from very impressive beginnings.

Did you know that the origins of the Fruitcake date back to Roman times and it is considered to be the first power food? Source Move over acai berries! That’s right, the fruitcake was used to fuel Roman soldiers for long days in battle. Likewise, the Crusaders carried on the tradition of the indestructible power food.

The British called it Plum Porridge and later Plum Pudding. It had meat, fruit, nuts, and wine, and evolved over time to resemble more of a cake than a pudding, minus the meat. Noble houses used it to feed the poor at Christmas. ‘oh bring us some figgy pudding, oh bring us some figgy pudding…..’ get it?

The Colonists brought the tradition to America and by the late 1800’s it had become a standard gift to exchange at Christmas. If you have ever received a fruitcake, it was likely presented in a colorful tin. There’s a reason for that. Apparently, one is supposed to ‘feed’ one’s fruitcake and store it in an air-tight container. Yes, you heard that right. Aficionados of the fruitcake insist that just like a fine wine, a fruitcake must be aged.

To properly care for your fruitcake and ensure its freshness through the holidays, or for up to a year if you are so inclined, one is to douse the cake in booze at regular intervals. What that actually means is that you should poke holes in the top of the cake and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite brandy, rum, or whisky over it about every two weeks until it is ready to serve.

Had I known this two weeks ago, I would have a fully fed fruitcake, waiting to be eaten on Christmas day. Instead, all I have left are these few pieces that are starting to dry.

My Mom gifted this cake to us. It is from a recipe that she borrowed from a family member many years ago.

She sent it to me because she remembers that I like it. That is not a memory I share, but she could be right. This cake is good. It is moist and chock full of fruits and nuts and I think I might just have to make it for gift giving – next year.

Of course, I will remember to include ‘care and feeding’ instructions.

Mom’s Fruitcake Recipe

I promise, no one will claim that you are ‘nuttier than a fruitcake,’ you will not use it as a doorstop and it won’t turn up again two years later at a White Elephant party. This is the real deal.

So, What Started the Bad Rap?

Some say it all began here but most agree it is unwarranted. What do you think?

Fruitcake or no Fruitcake? Tell us your best and worst Fruitcake stories in the comments.

We are busy making merry in our house, so you probably won’t hear from us until the new year. Until then, we offer a simple reminder that the best things in life are not things. Enjoy the ones you love, make memories, and smile if a fruitcake arrives in the mail!

Merry Christmas

37 thoughts on “A Christmas Controversy – the Fruitcake

  1. There is a monastery about an hour and a half south of where I live that sells fruit cakes at this time of year that are absolutely delicious. Your recipe sounds equally delicious, and I plan to copy it and give it a go. I will let you know how it turns out!

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    1. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I opened it, even though my Mom says I used to like it. I was shocked when it was moist, and not too sweet. When I make it I will probably exchange the candied fruit for dried. It seems like a very popular fund-raiser item, especially in the South – churches, schools, everyone sells, but who buys? BTW, I put the recipe into a JPeg format, so you can just right-click and download, like a photo and it will go to your pictures. Hope all is well around your house. Merry Christmas!

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  2. I HATE fruitcake – but my husband really likes it. So I never make (or buy) one, but he usually gets lucky sometime over Christmas because a fellow fruitcake lover somewhere will offer him a slice or two with his coffee. Loved the last little cartoon! Merry Christmas 🙂

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    1. Leanne, tell us how you really feel! Did your mum force-feed you fruitcake as a child? Come on, buck up and make one for your sweet hubby. Tis the season of LOVE….. 🙂 for a really good laugh, watch the Johnny Carson video I linked into the post. It’s hysterical. Merry Christmas

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  3. I love rich fruitcakes and Christmas cake most of all. Here in the UK we have all sorts of fruitcake, from very light (really just a sponge with a few sultanas!) through to the proper dense Christmas versions. It’s the latter that need to be fed with brandy or similar, before covering in marzipan and icing 🙂 I make one every year using Nigella Lawson’s infallible recipe. I have photos of my efforts (and a link to the recipe) here if you’re interested: https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/celebrating-christmas-in-london-and-a-little-way-beyond/

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  4. Sarah, I remember that post. Your cake is so very different from our version and much prettier. We wouldn’t think of covering it with marzipan, but if it’s good enough for Nigella, it’s good enough! Joy to you and yours this Christmas and always.

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  5. I have always given a ‘firm no’ to friuitcake. But this past month, I have been surrounded by fruitcake lovers. So much so, that good friend and fellow blogger, The Widow Badass, is threatening that I must try not just one, but two of her fruitcakes on New Year’s Day. I will let you know how that goes.

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  6. The Widow Badass

    I love a well-made and aged fruitcake! I have 2 different recipes aging as we speak (and thank you for reminding me to douse them again!). Your mom’s recipe looks good and I may have to try it out next year, so thanks for sharing! I think fruitcake gets a bad rap from the store-bought varieties, which are usually dry and lacking in expensive ingredients. Also, there are a lot of people who dislike the taste and texture of dried fruits. And yes, Donna will be force-fed fruitcake at my place on New Year’s Day…I need her vote…on which recipe is the least heinous to her. 🤣

    Deb

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      1. The Widow Badass

        Yes, I will! That is why I need everyone who comes to my house (yes, you too Donna!) to try both of the recipes I used and vote on which one is the best.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Suzanne,
    Fruitcake is a staple in our family. Our niece married into the family that owns Collins Street Bakery in Texas, one of the largest producers of fruitcake in the world. I was not a fan at first but eventually came around. My mother used to place a shot glass filled with Bourbon in the center of the ring to let the cake absorb the flavor in the tin…not sure that worked. Anyway, I enjoyed learning fruitcake history. All the best to you and Malcolm for a Merry Christmas! Joe

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    1. Joe, I read about Collins Street and a couple of other bakeries that make fruitcakes. It is certainly a big business. I’ve seen them in grocery stores during the holidays but I have never been tempted to buy one. Tracey says they make an apricot pecan one that I think might appeal to me. I love anything with apricots! Our best to you guys and have a great Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I never liked fruit cake until I had one from Collin Street Bakery in Waco Texas. My niece, who was raised there, brought me one for Christmas…..their Apricot Pecan version. It’s amazing! I’ve never liked any other fruit cake, but your suggestion to use dried instead of candied fruit may be the solution. Merry Christmas!

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  9. Christie Hawkes

    I had no idea fruitcake and plum pudding were the same thing. I learned something new today. My husband likes homemade fruitcake. Me not so much. Merry Christmas Suzanne!

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  10. Once upon a time I made a fruitcake that I doused in rum. I was diligent with the booze but no one liked my old-timey creation and were vocal about it so I never made one again. Yet if you like it by all means make one and enjoy. In fact you can have my piece. 😁

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  11. I remember the fruit cake from childhood. It wasn’t really my thing, and l also remember it as the one thing of which there was usually plenty left over at Christmas which just goes to show you 🙂 since there would be in excess of 100 kids about the house, and we ate everything :-). Still don’t like it.

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  12. “She sent it to me because she remembers that I like it. That is not a memory I share, but she could be right.” 😂😂 I’m firmly in the “No Fruitcake” camp, but that’s because I can’t stand those fake red (and worse, the green) candied cherries. Nor do I like candied pineapple. But dried apricots and pecans? Now that sounds like something I would like! And I’m definitely on board for the brandy. Fun post!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family! And cheers to a wonderful 2022!

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  13. I agree, the best things in life aren’t things. On that note, I’m not sure about the fruit cake. Just kidding. I love cake, even though it’s a “thing”. Just not fond of “fake fruit” and super sweet chunky things. That being said, I don’t even know if I ever had fruitcake. Not a thing in Belgium. But, I think you could always add some rum to “spice” things up a bit, like enhance dry cake?

    So, tell me, did you research this topic after reading Donna and friends’ invitation to join the holiday cheer blog hop? 🙂

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  14. How did I miss this post (actually, I know how… I just found a ton of perfectly fine emails – including all blog notices – in my email spam folder)? Anyway, I am firmly in the NO! camp. I fully admit this might be because of a long ago encounter with one of those door-stopper versions. Anyway, like pumpkin pie, I am happy to continue avoiding this Christmas tradition. More for those who love them!

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  15. Pingback: What’s On Your Plate Blog Challenge – Bringing the Sexy Back to Fruitcake Edition – THE WIDOW BADASS BLOG

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