Yes folks, the most magnificent day of the year has arrived at last: National Fruitcake Day. Woo Hoo!! You didn’t know this day existed? Me either! As it turns out, there are a variety of senseless and fun holidays for each day of the year, National Fruitcake Day is just one of many.
No one seems to know why December 27th was chosen to honor the much “beloved” fruitcake, but December being National Fruitcake Month probably had something to do with it. Also, I could have something to do with the fact that fruitcakes are traditionally exchanged during the Christmas holidays and, unless they are soaked in booze, will likely begin molding before too long. No matter the reason, do you really know what fruitcake is?
Not surprisingly, fruitcake (or fruit cake) is a cake made with chopped candied and/or dried fruit, nuts, spices, and occasionally soaked in spirits (not talking ghosts here…). As it turns out, a cake which merely has fruit in it can be considered a “fruit cake.” The humble fruitcake has been around for quite some time, making appearances in ancient rome (made with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed into a barley mash). The cake has since modernized some, and is now more cake-like, including a variety of dried berries, nuts, spices, and occasionally different “beverages” (rum and brandy seem to be the favorites). You can find cakes that are “au natural” all the way to elaborately decorated. In most countries the fruitcake is traditionally served during the holiday season and for weddings.
Fruitcake has a history, believe it or not. Not only has it been around for.ev.er, it was actually banned for a brief period of European history, because it was deemed too decadent and sinful. It is also said to have been buried with some ancient Egyptians. In more recent history, it has become a much beloved projectile in Manitou Springs, CO. On the first Saturday of January, locals and visitors gather to toss, catapult, carry, and sculpt their leftover fruitcakes. Events include relay races, fruitcake sculpting contests, throwing competitions, and a catapult toss.
Fruitcake is not exactly well loved by American society; apparently 38% of us will give away a fruitcake if it is given to us. But, if you are looking to celebrate the cake, you can usually find fruitcakes in your local grocery store in a variety of sizes, colors, and levels of decoration. Better yet, you could celebrate by making your own! Here is a link to a recipe from Good Eats and Alton Brown (thyme lord/food nerd/tv personality).
Want to know how I learned all this fabulously fruity information? Click here!