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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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Starting over…

Broken eggs…

Every failure is a step forward. Every success is a recognition of the steps, or failures, it took to get there.

One thing in life is a certainty, you are going to have successes,and you are going to have failures.  How you handle your success determines your single achievements.  Failure on the other hand grows you as a person, increases your growth as a leader, and ultimately moves you toward success.

Failures often lead to new opportunities.

open doors are opportunities

Café 120 has been reborn as Café 120 Treats and Gifts. And is an online store.  I have a new shared commercial kitchen and the possibilities are endless.  This Blog is part of my new adventure and will enhance my understanding of baking and the desire to get back to simple cooking.

Sometimes you don’t know you have lost something until it is gone…

This blog will look at how kitchen gadgets, and grocery stores have changed the way we approach cooking.  Life is easier, and cooking is quicker, but we are losing some of our history. With that loss we are losing not only flavor and nutrition, but an understanding of basic, simple, cooking.  

Researching vintage recipes, and methods, will be an indulgence for me.  I love old things…  they have character and have lived the test of time. Old recipes, speak of our past, and may give us some insight on making life healthier in our present.  Hopefully, along the way I will make new friends and find others that are interested in how to keep life and cooking simple.

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Pound Cake Love…

Georgia Peach Pound Cake

We Add the love…you eat the cake!

At Café 120 we make a LOT of pound cake…  One-pound cake you will always find on our counter (except on the days we run out…) is our Sour Cream Pound Cake.  That pound cake is a family recipe that has been handed down through the family.  I think I have seen it written down, but I am not sure where… However, it is one of the best pound cakes I have ever eaten and many of our customers agree.

Everything has a history.

The pound cake, of course, started in England and followed the first English immigrants over to America. The original cake would have been huge, as the recipe called for 1 pound each of butter, eggs, flour and sugar.  That is a four-pound cake!  During a period of history when many people, (especially women) did not know how to read or write, the simple ingredient list made it easy for cooks to make.

We wanted to be a great Coffee Shop!  Now we’re a great Bakery too!

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

Café’ 120 bakes all of our own pound cakes.  In addition to our sour cream pound cake, we have offered Almond, Lemon Blueberry, Chocolate Turtle, Lemon and Coconut Amaretto.  Our most popular pound cake to date is the Old-Fashioned Sour Cream pound cake.  However, a close second was our Lemon Blueberry.  Here is the recipe for that cake.

At Cafe’120 we are baking up a storm these days.  Come in and you will usually find 3 different cakes, 8-12 varieties of homemade cookies, our own brownies, whoopie pies, homemade banana bread and many more offerings.  We never use preservatives and where possible we use natural sugars or honey.

Come and give our bakery a try!