Ancient Rome – lays claim to the earliest recorded version of a “fruit cake/energy bar recipe” and pine nuts, raisins and pomegranate seeds were mixed in to barley marsh to create it – wonder what it looked and tasted like.
However with time ingredients, knowledge and etc. evolved – and the modern day fruit cake can be traced back to the “middle ages” – dried and preserved fruit, and honey became widely available and the fruit cake and its cousins fruit breads, sweet spiced breads and etc. made its way into Western European cuisine.
Continents and counties have now created their own versions of the fruit cake – Italy has the “panforte”- which is sweet and spicy, Germany the “stolen” – generally loaf shaped and coated with melted butter and icing sugar, and then the Caribbean Islands have their “black cake”-where the fruit is soaked in rum for months and up to a year at times. During the 18th and 19th century fruit cakes were made traditionally for special occasions such weddings – simply because the cost of the ingredients – it was thought to be indulgent.
A traditional fruit cakes basic ingredients are high quality flour (today various types of flours are used), sugar, baking powder and butter. The taste and texture is largely determined by the type of fruits, nuts, spices and other ingredients that make up “the fruit cake”. The recipe, taste and market it is created for will determine the choice of ingredients. The addition of spices ( sweet spices) to fruit cakes dates back to the Middle Eastern heritage of the fruit cake and adding typical sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice enhance and bring out the flavours and textures of all of the other ingredients in the fruit cake. Fruits used could include, fresh fruit, preserved fruit, dried fruit, candied fruit, glazed fruit and fruit rind and when it comes to nuts the chosen and favoured ones are walnuts, pecan halves, almonds and pine nuts – a generous helping of chopped up nuts is including in the cake batter and the then halved and skinned almonds or pecan halves are used to decorate the top and yes to top it off a “cherry on the top”. With all of the above decadent ingredients – you most certainly need something to bind and hold it all together – and these could include eggs, molasses, other syrups, fruit juices and sometimes even rum and brandy.
My recipe is full of my kinda goodness – lots of fruit and nuts – And No eggs, rum, brandy and sugar
625ml cake fruit mix including cherries, chopped dates, cranberries, dried figs, and dried apricots
150ml orange juice
250g coconut oil – frozen
7ml mixed spice
250ml mix nuts (slivered)
150ml date puree
10ml bicarbonate soda
250ml coconut milk
5ml vanilla essence