From fruit cake failures to 50th anniversary replica wedding cakes, the fruit cake is both loved and hated. My late husband considered fruit cake to be “an abomination of the English”. Since I’m of that generation where we half-heartedly tried to please our husbands while refusing to say, “My husband won’t let me…..” , I seldom made fruit cake in the 42 years that we were married.
Now it seems like it’s a bit late for me to catch up. I recently tried to make the Spiced Dark Fruit Cake from Edith Adams’ Christmas Baking but I’m pretty sure it’s burnt, not just “very dark” as the note at the end of the recipe states. It tastes slightly better with the addition of an almond paste icing.
Edith Adams’ Christmas Baking has two full pages of instructions on Christmas Cakes. A few of the points that might have helped me, if I had read the instructions more carefully:
- A large proportion of the fruit should be glazed. Maybe I should not have substituted dried pineapple and dried cranberries for the glazed cherries and candied citron.
- The recommended temperature for a cake baked in a 4×8 inch loaf pan is 300⁰ F. Is it possible that gas ovens have higher temperatures? Also, did my brain accidentally read this as 325?
- Three layers of brown paper might have worked better to line the pans than one layer of parchment paper.
- The loaf pans I used are dark and old. Edith Adams recommends bright, shining pans.
Edith Adams admits that there might be failures if one does not follow instructions to the letter and recommends two courses of action:
- REMAKE THE CAKE
- MAKE CAKE INTO STEAMED PUDDING
I do think that fruit cake is useful for many different purposes – for example, it could provide an excellent project for an inquiry project (look under Teacher Resources on this website). Here is an example from Rosie Dyck, a UBC grad student, who replicated her parents’ wedding cake for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. She made the three fruit cakes that comprise the cake using her grandmother’s multi-tiered pans. She said she had to practice making pillars and fondant roses and that the cake tasted delicious doused with rum syrup. In the photo you’ll notice a photograph of the original cake.
For more information on fruit cakes, see the following blog posts by my two BC Food History colleagues who are much better bakers than me:
For myself, I’m thinking I will buy a small fruit cake from a large chain store and declare it a done deal.