I started thinking about fruitcake when my sister returned from Italy last week. She was going to try to bring a Panattone but didn’t have room in her suitcase.
I wondered about the history and started researching online. Some sources claimed that the Egyptians placed a version of a fruitcake in the tombs for loved ones to have food in the afterlife. The earliest recipes traced back to the ancient Romans list ingredients like: pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, raisins, honey and other preserved fruits.
We actually have a German Stollen in the freezer. I’m not sure any more why we haven’t eaten it. I guess a year isn’t old for a fruitcake. I found a couple of stories online that mentioned a 125 year old fruitcake. An 83-year-old man named Morgan Ford living in Tecumseh, MI was preserving this fossil in glass. In 2003 the post says he took his great-grandmother Fidelia Bates fruitcake to share a piece with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.”
All my childhood cake memories are folded into my mother. There wasn’t a cake she couldn’t whip into shape. The sloppy mingling of butter, eggs, flour and sugar expertly ushered neatly into pans. Transformed by the oven into perfect pillows of warm fragrant sweetness that perfumed the house for every: birthday, communion, anniversary, graduation, or holiday. My mother was a creative soul trapped in the body of a traditional housewife. She was an intuitive baker and cook. Many of her culinary creations were made from memory and frequently improvised. She never used a recipe.
I do have an amazing recipe for fruitcake. Handed down to my sister from her mother-in-law. When I made it last year I had to alter it slightly. I soaked the fruit overnight in rum instead of adding the wine. Otherwise I pretty much followed the recipe bellow. I made the nine smaller loaves pictured above. Unlike the darker much maligned fruitcake these were all eaten within days. Word of warning they are addictive.
Also if anyone knows this family in Tecumseh, Michigan, I’d love to hear if they are continuing to preserve their fruitcake.