Me, Myself and My Little Morsels TM!
Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
All rights reserved
The audacious and debonair Travelling Gourmet TM tastes-test some very splendid Christmas Fruitcakes, one of which is…
MARINA Mandarin’s Noel Fruitcake chock full of the best raisins, sultanas, lemon peel, orange peel and currants. The texture is very moist and slightly crumbly with a smooth and slick Fondant icing topped with two big gold chocolate balls. There is a lovely aroma because the Pastry Chef has laced it with Cognac! It is excellent with some Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene or Bollinger Champagne 1998. Love at first munch!
History of Fruitcake!
The name “fruitcake” can be traced back as far as the Middle Ages. It is formed from a combination of the Latin fructus, and French frui or frug.
|Fruitcake afficionados are in good company because the oldest reference that can be found regarding a fruitcake dates back to Roman times! I have often thought that in one of my reincarnations that I was the Roman Emperor marcus Aurelius…Ha! Ha! The ancient Roman recipe included Pomegranate seeds, Pine nuts, and Raisins that were mixed into Barley Mash. Honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added during the Middle Ages. Crusaders and hunters were reported to have carried this type of cake to sustain themselves over long periods of time away from home. Nutritious a full of healthy fibre!|
1400s – The British began their love affair with fruitcake when dried fruits from the Mediterranean first arrived.
1700s – In Europe, a ceremonial type of fruitcake was baked at the end of the nut harvest. It was saved and eaten the next year to celebrate the beginning of the next harvest, hoping it will bring them another successful harvest! After the harvest, nuts were mixed and made into a fruitcake that was saved until the following year. At that time, previous year’s fruitcakes were consumed in the hope that its symbolism would bring the blessing of another successful harvest!
In the early 18th century, fruitcake (called plum cakes) was outlawed entirely throughout Continental Europe. These cakes were considered as “sinfully rich.” By the end of the 18th century there were laws restricting the use of plum cake. Absurd but true!
Between 1837 and 1901, fruitcake was extremely popular. A Victorian “Tea” would not have been complete without the addition of the fruitcake to the sweet and savory spread. Queen Victoria is said to have waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste. On a side note, recently when I was partaking of the most delectable English Afternoon Tea in the Rosebery Tea Lounge, of the celebrated Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in London, guess what? Scrumptious Fruitcake was one of the numerous tasty temptations I could not resist!
It was the custom in England for unmarried wedding guests to put a slice of the cake, traditionally a dark fruitcake, under their pillow at night so they will dream of the person they will marry…
Walkers of Scotland
Another one of my favourites is Luxury Dundee Cake by venerable Walkers of Scotland. This cake has a firmer and slightly drier texture but is super too! Full of delicious and nutritious nuts and raisins and lemon peel. One trick is that you do not have to force yourself to finish the Fruitcake by the end of 2014. The Travelling Gourmet’s secret which I shall share with you is simple. Simply drizzle Nardini Ruta Grappa or Single Malt Glenlivet Scotch Whisky or Hennessy Cognac XO over the Fruitcake and let it…slowly…slowly soak into the depths of its rich crumbs and fruit…Put all three if you fancy! Do it once a week and keep it in the refridgerator…and you can enjoy the Fruitcake for many moons into the next year, which is 2015! This is the secret to how you can EAT your cake and still HAVE it! Ha! Ha!