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For the love of Christmas Fruitcake

Traditional Fruitcake

Christmas Cake.  What better subject for Café 120’s, first vintage recipe post in December, one week before Christmas.  

Whether you love it, or hate it, fruitcake is a part of a long-held Christmas tradition worldwide.  It is one of the oldest historical cake recipes known and is found in almost every country on earth.  It is so revered or reviled, that it has earned a place in the Smithsonian magazine , has been the center point of literary plots, is the butt of seasonal jokes, or holds an honored place at the Christmas table.

I grew up with fruitcake at Christmas, and it is one of the traditions that I always look forward to.

When I say I love fruitcake, I must clarify, “I love my Mother’s fruitcake”.  I love the one I grew up with. I have tried others, and none compare. 

Why do so many people say they hate fruitcake?

What many people don’t realize, is that although these cakes all share the name “Fruitcake”, it is actually just a category of cake. With recipes ranging in types of fruit, nuts, flours, and spices there are hundreds of fruitcake varieties and flavors.  Maybe thousands. So, when a person tells me they hate fruitcake, I have to ask, which ones have you tried?  If you are basing that opinion on a store-bought fruitcake, then you may be missing out.

My mother-in-law always had a well-recognized store-bought fruitcake every Christmas.  It came in a special tin can and it would keep months in that tin can. (if not years if it lasted that long) Ms. “B” loved it, and it was what she and the family looked forward to each year.  That cake along with Aunt Lucy’s croissants, and the fruit ambrosia, said to everyone, “Now…Christmas is here”.  It was different from what I had always known, but I was happy to participate in their tradition and make it my own. I never came to like that cake, but then I always had Mom’s.

The point to understand, is that all fruitcake is not necessarily what you might think of as “fruitcake”. If your experience is only the thick sticky yellow fruitcake often served, or given as a gift at Christmas, this is not the definitive fruitcake. This is the iconic fruitcake.  There are many, many fruitcake recipes with different flavor profiles. Different textures and completely different looks.  For instance, Italian Panforte, German Stollen and spice cakes with raisins, figs, or apples are technically all fruitcakes.  Each with their own Christmas tradition. 

So, one week before Christmas, I want to spotlight my Mom’s vintage fruitcake recipe for the Café 120 Treats and Gifts blog site!  This one is chocolaty, with cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and cups full of black walnuts, pecans, raisins, pineapple, applesauce, and minimal candied fruit.  It is spicy, not too sweet and tastes like Christmas and home and love all in one bite. 

So my friends, welcome to my new vintage recipe blog… and enjoy this cake.  It is one of my favorites.  I always hide it in the back of my fridge and pull it out around August for a slice.  It never fails to make me think of Christmas when I do.

Mama Howard’s Fruit Cake

1 cup of butter (softened.)
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
Using your mixer, mix the butter till creamy, and then add sugar one cup at a time til creamy.  Add eggs one at a time allowing the egg to disappear before adding the next one.  Turn off mixer when completed and let stand.

In separate bowl, sift together these ingredients:

1 tsp salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp soda
½ cup cocoa
1 tbs All spice
1 tbs Cinnamon
1 tbs Nutmeg
Sift all this together.

Add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl slowly.  One cup or 1/2 cup at a time.   Mix well. 

Fold in two cups of chunky Applesauce.
Add one cup of drained crushed pineapple. (press some of the juice out of it.)

When wet fruit is fully incorporated fold in:
1 tsp vanilla
¾ box of raisins (about 2 – 2 1/2 cups)                                                                        1 cup of mixed fruit (candied)
1 ½ cup of pecans
1 cup of black Walnuts

Pour into 2 prepared loaf pans.  (Or use one tube pan.)
Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees (START checking it at 45 mins. because some oven temps vary.)

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