Whether you love it or hate it, fruit cake is a tradition everywhere. There are several differing versions of the confection, but they are all still similar.
Fruit cake can be traced back as early as ancient Rome where it was made with barley, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and raisins. Through the Middle Ages is when the name fruit cake was coined and this is when the use of fruits that had been preserved started. This was the time when these pastries spread rapidly and many different variations of the recipe started coming about.
This treat is now made in multiple countries from the Bahamas where they soak absolutely everything in rum to Canada where it is almost only a Christmas time treat. In Germany it is also a Christmas time confection. Italy calls theirs Panforte and it has a rather strong flavor to it. In Romania they serve this pastry at every important holiday.
The United States is where the mass production of fruit cake began. While many of the traditional recipes call for a brandy or liqueur to be added to the confection at some point and for it to be coated with powdered sugar, most of the loafs that are mass produced do not contain the alcohol in them. All these were things originally added to help prevent molding, but there are many other ways that we are able to do that now.
The truth of the matter is that most in the U.S. seem to look down upon fruit cake. This can partially be linked back to Johnny Carson who had made some jokes at the expense of this particular desert. There are also other reasons too, one of these being that many of the confections that are made do not seem to have much appeal for the taste buds. There are, however, versions that are absolutely delicious, but the ones that are not quite up to par seem to be the most widely known in the country.
Most of the home made recipes seem to come out tasting rather good as long as the person making them has the ability to bake. It is some of the mass produced deserts that live up to the bad reputation for having to little flavor or some other deficiency that seems to make it less than pleasant.
For those of you who are able to bake delicious treats, try making your own fruit cake. You may be pleasantly surprised at how good it really can come out to be. There are a number of different recipes available so find one that you think sounds good and go from there. Chances are that if it sounds like it would be a great dessert then it probably will. The worst that could happen is that it does not turn out the way you had hoped and you have to find something to do with it other than eating it.
No matter the country, no matter the tradition, fruit cake has a long, rich, and deep history throughout the world. So whether you have yours smothered in alcohol or iced, every time you have one of these treats you are eating a small part of history.