That’s right, Fruitcake gets its own holiday! Many comedians use fruitcake as the butt of their Holiday jokes, and people seem to either love or hate this holiday tradition. Some fruitcakes really are fruit and nuts in a cake, but others are fruit flavoring, gumdrops, and artificial coloring. I can see why some wouldn’t taste very good, despite being able to last a long long time.
Fruitcake is possibly one of the oldest recipes on the planet; the first references to fruitcake are from Ancient Rome, where it was used more like an energy bar for soldiers than a holiday cake. They used similar ingredients to what we use now, but our soldiers have much better rations these days. The oldest fruitcake in America was baked by Fidelia Ford while Rutherford B Hayes was President in 1878.1 It is now in Tecumseh, Michigan in the china cabinet of the baker’s great-great granddaughter, Julie Ruttinger1. That fruitcake is 144 years old!
Why do fruitcakes last so long? Its not because nobody wants to eat them; there’s a science behind their longevity! Fruitcakes were baked long before refrigeration was available, so fruit grown in summer was preserved in sugar or dried in the sun. Once winter arrived and the fresh fruits and veggies had all been eaten, all that was left was food from storage, like dried or candied fruit! They had to get their vitamin C from somewhere!
Some fruitcakes are darker in color, and some are light, but they are all pretty simple recipes to put together, and you can create your own fruitcake recipe that fits. your needs. Like if you don’t want walnuts in yours, you can add pecans, or you can mix up the dried fruit into different combinations until you find your favorite blend of fruit. Remember to Eat a Rainbow every chance you get, so a variety of fruit is going to have more vitamins for your body to use that if you were to use just one kind of dried fruit!
Whole grain flour is a must, since half of our grains every day should be whole grains. It doesn’t have to be wheat flour though! There are lots of whole grain flours out there. Feel free to try out what happens if you swap the some or all of white flour in this recipe for another whole grain flour, such as spelt, buckwheat, amaranth, or rice flour. These other whole grains don’t have the same amount of gluten in them, which helps create the texture and structure of the cake, so be ready for it to be a little different! If you decided to change the recipe, be sure to take notes on what you changed in the recipe, and only change one ingredient at a time to be sure you know what it was that changed the end result. (The difference between science and playing around is taking notes!)
Many traditional fruitcakes take a long time to make and start with soaking the dried fruit overnight in juice to re-hydrate it and make it softer to bite through. Other recipes call for the baker to think ahead and bake the cake in September, then wrap it and store it until Christmas; waiting can help the flavors of the fruit and spices blend together better, but these long-stored cakes often need high amounts of sugar to preserve them. We probably don’t need all that extra sugar, so Captain Create has found a Faster Fruitcake recipe!
While it still takes a bit of time to bake, it does not need to sit in storage for a few months, and does not need overnight to juice up the fruit inside.