Sunday, April 12, 2009

The History Of Fruit Cake

With Christmas just right around the corner, more and more people are turning their attention to making fruit cakes to give as gifts to friends, co-workers, and neighbors. This delicacy is traditionally associated with holidays and weddings. However, let us take a glimpse of its origin to make us appreciate this special Christmas delicacy more. Fruit cake has been made for thousands of years in several countries, but it's only in the last 80 years or so that it became a running Christmas joke; this is because the fruit cake that is produced in volumes and sold in department stores is dry, hard and bland.
Fruit cake has been made back in the days of ancient Rome in one form or another. Back then, it wasn't called "fruit cake" until the Middle Ages, when people started to put preserved fruit, spices and honey responsible for the sweetness the cake. When the American colonies became a source of inexpensive and rich sugar in the 16th century, people in the colonies and Europe found out that fruit would keep for a long time when preserved using a large amount of concentration of sugar in sugar-water syrup. Thus, an over production of preserved fruit was created which, in turn, made the preserved fruit inexpensive and made the baking of fruit cakes more famous. Nuts weren't used greatly in making fruit cakes until the 18th century when Europeans begin adding nuts in the cakes at harvest to guarantee good luck and a good harvest the following year. Since then, dried fruits and nuts always go together in making a fruit cake.
There are so many special kinds of fruit cakes and different ways to make them; the recipes for them would rapidly fill a very thick book! Recipes for fruit cakes differ widely depending on what country they come from and the kind of fruit that's available in that country. There are innumerable fruit cake recipes from the United States, mostly because we produce so many different kinds of fruits and nuts. The most famous recipes here are the light fruit cake and the dark fruit cake; so named because of the color of the fruits and nuts used in making them. There are also fruit cake recipes that have been handed over from mother to daughter over the years and are a special part of their Christmas traditions.
A fruit cake that's made with utmost care by hand and allowed to age, tastes absolutely good and looks splendid and is a proof to the baking skills of the person who made it.
Fruit cakes tastes best when they're prepared well in advance of the holidays. They need a longer period of time, usually a few weeks to a few months, to age appropriately. When a fruit cake is put away it picks up the taste of the brandy or the juice it's soaked in; it also makes the fruit cake much moister and preserves it.
So, try your hand at baking the traditional fruit cake this holiday season. You'll surely be making a little bit of history!

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