The glorious history of the slandered and misunderstood fruit cake


Here comes Yves. I used to have a real homemade fruit cake…not bad. It was properly stored in a jar, wrapped in a kitchen towel, and it smelled of alcohol.

But the American grocery store version, Uniform rectangle and neon candied fruit wrapped in cellophane Almost certainly the source of general disgust Doorstop dessert. I think the main cooking problem is bad preserves. Other festive dishes with candied fruit, such as Chinese Eight Treasure Rice (I mean, who doesn’t like glutinous rice? And sweet red bean paste!) Although it is not sweet, it is a treat.

If we must maintain the Christmas style, plum pudding is better than fruit cake.

Now, if any reader has a good enough recipe to challenge these prejudices, please speak up!

Author: Jeffrey Miller, associate professor of hotel management at Colorado State University.Originally published on dialogue

Nothing tells Christmas better than a fruitcake—or, at least, a fruitcake joke.

A witty remark Former “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson said: “There is only one fruit cake in the world, and people keep sending each other.”

It certainly won the reputation of longevity.

Since the late 1950s, two friends from Iowa have been exchanging the same fruit cake. The older ones are Fruit cake left in Antarctica Created in 1910 by the explorer Robert Falcon Scott (Robert Falcon Scott).However, the honor of the oldest known extant fruit cake is attributed to Baked in 1878 When Rutherford B. Hayes was the President of the United States.

The amazing thing about these ancient fruit cakes is that people have tasted them and are alive, which means they can still be eaten all these years later.A trio of sugar, low-moisture ingredients and some high-strength spirits makes a fruit cake Some of the longest-preserved foods in the world.

Primal Energy Bar

Fruit cake is an ancient candy, there is the oldest version An energy bar Manufactured by the Romans and used to maintain their soldiers in battle. Roman fruit cake It is a mixture of barley, honey, wine and dried fruits, usually pomegranate seeds.

You might think that modern fruit cakes—a moist, fermented dessert dotted with fruits and nuts—may first appeared in Europe in the early Middle Ages.Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg It is a symbol of exquisite cooking, These sweet spices began to appear next to the fruits in many appetizers-especially bread, and main dishes.

Soon after, most delicacies There are some fruit breads or cakes, which are early versions of modern fruit cakes.

Fruit cakes in Europe are different from those in the United States. European fruit cakes are more like medieval fruit breads than versions made in the United Kingdom and the United States. The two most common styles European fruit cakes are Stollen and Paneto.

The British and American versions are more like cakes.For excessive luxury, honor must go British Edition Add a layer of marzipan frosting on the rich fruit cake.

Sweeten the pot

The fruit cake came to the United States with European colonists, closely reflected by the wave of immigrants from the United Kingdom to New England The influx of cheap sugar From the Caribbean.

Sugar is the key to preserving fruits for cross-season use. One of the favorite ways to preserve fruit is to “candy” it. Candied fruit -Sometimes called crystalline fruit-is a fruit that is cut into small pieces, boiled in syrup, added with sugar, and dried.

Thanks to this technique, the colonists were able to save the fruits harvested in summer to make Christmas desserts, and the fruit cake became one of the most popular seasonal desserts.

Dessert to keep power

Fruit cakes are also popular because of their legendary shelf life, which was very popular in the era before mechanical refrigeration.

Fruitcake lovers will tell you that the best fruitcakes must mature for at least three months before being cut—or “flavored” in the fruitcake terminology—for at least three months. Flavoring not only improves the flavor of the fruit cake, but also makes it easier to slice.

Flavoring fruit cakes involves scrubbing the fruit cake regularly with your favorite distilled spirits, then wrapping it tightly and placing it in a cool, dark place for up to two months. The traditional spirit of choice is brandy, but rum is also very popular. In the southern United States, fruit cakes are very popular, and bourbon is the first choice.A flavored fruit cake Will get a few spiritual baths At maturity.

The popularity of the fruit cake in the United States should at least be attributed to the U.S. Post Office.

The free rural delivery system in 1896 and the package postal service added in 1913 Caused the U.S. mail-order food explosionOvernight, the once-rare delicacy is just a mail-order envelope for anyone who can afford it.

In view of the long shelf life and dense texture of fruit cakes, this is a matter of course for mail-order food companies. The two most famous fruit cake companies in the United States, Clarkston Clarkston, Georgia and Collin Street Food in Corsicana, Texas began in the heyday of mail-order food.By the early 1900s, the mail room in the United States was full of the now ubiquitous Fruit cake tin.

Until the 1950s, fruit cakes were a well-respected part of American holiday traditions. A 1953 Los Angeles Times article called fruit cakes a “holiday must-have.” In 1958, the Christian Science Monitor asked: “What better gift than fruit cake?” But in 1989, A survey by MasterCard It was found that fruit cake was the least favorite gift for 75% of the respondents.

Hatred and disrespect aside, fruit cakes are still an important tradition in the United States: Serious Eats website According to reports, more than 2 million fruit cakes are still sold every year.

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