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Christmas Fruit Cake

Do you recollect whether the Manydown family sent about their wedding cake? Mrs. Dundas has set her heart upon having a piece from her friend Catherine, and Martha, who knows what importance she attaches to this sort of thing, is anxious for the sake of both that there should not be a disappointment0.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Castle Square: Friday, October 7, 1808

Fruitcake is a cake made with chopped candied and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices, and optionally soaked in spirits. In the United Kingdom certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are often served in the celebration of weddings and Christmas.

The earliest recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash.

In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added and the name fruitcake was first used, from a combination of the Latin fructus, and French frui or frug.

Starting in the 16th century, inexpensive sugar from the American Colonies, and the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits, created an excess of candied fruit, thus making fruitcakes more affordable and popular

In the 18th century, Europeans were baking fruitcakes using nuts from the harvest for good luck in the following year. The cake was saved and eaten before the harvest of the next year, so it was about a year old when eaten.

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