It seems like a running gag in TV shows and cartoons is to have someone turn up their nose whenever fruit cake is mentioned. It was a Christmas episode joke staple in the ’90s. The stuff gets such a bad wrap that even The Huffington Post wrote a piece on why it tastes to bad.
Since today’s National Date Nut Bread Day, which is essentially what Fruit Cake is, I thought I’d take a look at why people have such a universal hatred for this dish that actually sounds pretty delicious when you think about it.
First, the hate.
Fruit cake is super, duper, duper dense. Eating it without a cup of hot tea or coffee to dip it in is ill-advised. I get it that when people think of the word “cake” they think of light and fluffy flour-based delights that are doused with their favorite frosting and maybe pack a pudding or creme filling that may or may not be dressed up with a delicious fruit compote, or any type of compote, really.
My mom makes THE best Christmas Fruitcake… Fruitcake gets a bad rap and I never understood why… There has been years that my mother had to bake more cakes ( in addition to the 5 or so she's already made…. Because people always request a cake from her) because us kids would go through them so fast that the original baked cakes wouldn't make it to Christmas… This is the cake she gave us last night, this cake arrived at our house around 10:00pm last night and this is the dent (minus that slice cause I already ate it) that the boyfriend and I made in under 12 hours ( 7 or so of which were spent sleeping) this is not your grocery store fruit cake ❤️ #fruitcake #christmasfruitcake
So maybe it’s the idea that something you think is cake, but isn’t really cake, is what angers you so much when you take a healthy bite out of a piece of fruitcake.
Then there’s just the very nature of fruit cake and other date nut bread cakes as well: it’s best when it’s aged.
Unfortunately, that involves using liquor in the recipe, which is an either love-it-or-hate-it flavor for people and their baked goods. The aroma of a heavily boozed fruit cake might turn some people off. I, personally, kinda love it. It’s different.
The candied pieces of fruit in the cake also tend to rub people the wrong way. That say HuffPo article I referenced above referred to the coloration of the fruits as “radioactive”, which is a bit harsh. One could call it fun and festive.
Plus, you have to consider the origin of this treat: it dates all the way back to Roman Times, when bakers put in pomegranate seeds and other bits of fruit they had lying around. This made for a perfect, carb and vitamin-packed food that not only kept you full but energized while travelling. Without modern refrigeration and preservation methods at hand, infusing the bread with alcohol made sure that the cake wouldn’t spoil. So every time you take a bite out of a date and nut loaf, you’re basically eating ancient history. And if you don’t think that’s the tightest thing in the world, then get outta my face.
The quintessential Garam Masala Christmas Fruit Cake, one I bake every year. Here's this years version inspired by different recipes from @bbcgoodfood and a bit of my own. Fruit mince from scratch soaked in a gentle mix of orange zest, orange juice, garam masala, whiskey, brandy and rum. Not very potent yet pleasing enough. Some folk are surprised at garam masala in cake. This was what my mother always used when we were young. Ground cinnamon, nutmeg etc. were unavailable in the local market at the time. Garam masala or warm winter spices made up a heady bouquet, available in all our homes. A new year fruit cake was customary to bake in the armed forces then. I try to keep that tradition going! Happy holidays to you all. Did you bake fruit cake this year? Recipe #ontheblog
Dates are a prime ingredient in fruit cake as well and in addition to being full of natural sugars, they’re also vitamin dense and are amazing for your skin. Couple that with an abundance of your choice of seasonal nuts, usually pecans and walnuts, fruitcakes are basically a superfood and dessert all rolled into one.
You can also dress them up if you like, so, again, if people want to hate on fruitcake because their texture is more akin to sweetened dense bread than a traditional cake, show them this yummy slice of heaven.
You can say what you want about fruitcake, but it just doesn’t really feel like the Holidays unless I’m munching on a piece of this yummy, rummy treat. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a slice calling me and my tea has just steeped, so I’ll leave you with this recipe and get to eating.