Tuesday, December 17, 2013


It's Christmas time once again and I'm busy baking cakes, including the traditional fruit cake -- so fruity, chewy, moist and so yummy good...

Fruit cake originated in ancient Rome. The name 'fruit cake' can be traced to the Latin word 'fructus' and the French word 'fruit' or 'fruig' which means 'fruit'. During Roman times, the recipe included raisins, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts mixed with barley mash and formed into a ring-shape dessert. During the Middle Ages, honey, spices and preserved fruits were added.

Fruit cakes soon spread to Europe. In the 1400's the British people started baking fruit cakes regularly with dried fruits coming in from the Mediterranean. They loved the fruit cake so much that it became a part of their afternoon tea. 

In the 1490's Pope Innocent finally granted permission to use butter and milk in Germany making the fruit cake even so much tastier. Before that it was forbidden by the church to use butter and milk for penance.

In the 16th century, candied glazed fruit was created because of the cheap sugar that arrived in Europe from the colonies. This made the fruit cake more affordable and more popular. The earliest form of fruit cake was introduced to us Filipinos by the Spaniards but it was more of the ring shape pudding like dessert called 'tarta de fruta', that the Spaniards learned from Roman tradition.

Fruit cake, as we know today, came to the Philippines in the 1890's with the coming of the American soldiers. Traditional American fruit cakes were rich in fruits and nuts and drenched in rum or brandy. 

By the early 19th century, the typical fruit cake recipe included citrus peel, pineapples, plums, dates, pears and cherries. It also included various nuts like cashew, almonds or pistachio.

Traditionally, the fruit and nut ingredients are soaked in rum or brandy 2-3 weeks before baking time. I don't take alcohol so in place of brandy I use apple juice and vanilla extract. They give a very strong fruit flavor without the alcohol.

Here is my recipe for a very simple home-made fruit cake.

2 c all-purpose flour

1 c dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp milk powder

1/2 block butter

1 tsp cinnamon powder or ground nutmeg

1/2 c corn syrup

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vinegar
2 Tbsp oil

Soak 2-3 weeks before baking :

1/2 c apple juice mixed with 2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c mixed glazed fruits, raisins, cherries,etc
1/4 c mixed nuts


1. in a mixing bowl combine flour. sugar, milk powder, baking powder, nutmeg or cinnamon powder.

2. In a separate sauce pan, simmer together over low heat soaked glazed fruits, nuts, butter, corn syrup, oil and vinegar.

3. Add the flour mixture into the dried fruit mixture. Mix well.

4. Spread over oiled pan. Bake until done. Remove from pan. Prepare a separate 1/2 c apple juice and vanilla mixture. Brush top of the cake while still hot. Keep brushing for a few days. Serve.

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