How to Make: Fruit Cake

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Welcome to Tenacious Genealogy! It’s Friday, which means another historical recipe. Today, I’m focusing on a recipe from 101 years ago, that would have been made for many a fancy holiday party – Fruit Cake.

Before you cringe at the thought of this recipe, let me tell you something… this fruit cake is not what you would think of when you think of fruitcake.

It is not nearly as sugary or sweet as the ‘old-fashioned’ fruitcakes that are sold commercially. It’s more like a cake – with dried fruit in it. And while the original recipe calls for ‘boiled frosting’, it is not a required ingredient.

So jump in with me and check out this new ‘old-fashioned’ version of fruit cake!

1916 Fruit Cake

Cookbook: The Myrtle Reed Cook Book
Author: Myrtle Reed
Published: 1916

Original Recipe:

1 cupful butter
1 cupful sugar
4 eggs
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 cupful of flour
1 teaspoonful of baking powder
1/2 cupful currants
1/2 cupful of blanched and shredded almonds
1/2 cupful of sherry
Shredded, candied orange peel
Citron

Instructions:

Cream a cupful each of butter and sugar, add the yolks of four eggs well-beaten, a pinch of grated nutmeg, and a cupful of flour sifted with a teaspoonful of baking-powder. Fold in the stiffly beaten whites, add half a cupful each of currants and blanched and shredded almonds, and, gradually, half a cupful of sherry. Put into a buttered tin in layers, alternating with shredded candied orange-peel and citron. Bake in a moderate oven for three hours and ice with boiled frosting.

My translation of the recipe: (My notes are in bold italics)

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup of blanched and shredded almonds
8 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Shredded, candied orange peel
Citron

Instructions:

Cream a cup each of softened butter and sugar in mixer.
Add the yolks of four eggs well-beaten, a pinch of grated nutmeg, and a cup of flour sifted with a teaspoon of baking powder.
Fold in the stiffly beaten whites.
Add a half cup each of currants and blanched and shredded almonds, and gradually, eight teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Put into a buttered tin in layers, alternating with shredded candied orange-peel and citron. (Or put the orange peel and citron on top of the dough – it will sink into the dough while baking).
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
Ice with frosting or glaze, if desired.

Ingredients for Fruit Cake!

So I didn’t follow this recipe to exactly the way it was done in 1916, but changed a couple of things. I prefer not to cook with alcohol, so I looked up a substitute for sherry. I got a couple different substitutions, but vanilla extract seemed the best for making a cake. I also didn’t buy or make ‘shredded and blanched almonds’. I had raw almonds on hand and just tossed those in. I also didn’t layer the cake with citron and orange peel, but just put a nice layer of the two on top of the cake.

Still, it came out delicious, with the interesting whiff of popcorn and/or bacon after it was done cooking. I gave some to my coworkers for a treat before we all went away for the holidays and they found it delicious and a unique addition to our typical holiday spread.

Creamed butter and sugar. Yummy!

 

Fruit Cake ready for the oven!

 

Fruit Cake after my co-workers and I had tried some.

 

Questions? Comments?

Questions or comments about this Fruit Cake? Have you or your family made a recipe like this in the past? Let me know in the comments! And if you like what you’ve been seeing here on Tenacious Genealogy – please subscribe to our email list. Not only will you stay up to date with the latest blog posts, but you’ll also get access to freebies such as ’10 Tips for Starting Your Genealogy’ and other fun ‘subscriber only’ items!

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