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December 6, 2017

Not Your Grandmother’s Fruitcake

By Emily Caldwell Fruitcake

‘Tis the season for love, joy, and satisfying sweet cravings. After dinner is done, serve your customers the best gift of all, the cookie and dessert tray! Include holiday classic favorites like spiced gingerbread cookies drizzled with rich royal icing, buttery shortbread, or sugar cookie Christmas cutouts, all perfectly complemented with a tall glass of rich eggnog. But most importantly, don’t forget the fruitcake!

This quintessential Christmas cake follows a vintage recipe stuffed with fruits, nuts and filled with spirits — literally! The once iconic loaf was a celebrated treat enjoyed at weddings, birthdays, Christmas parties, and gift exchanges. Tales from the Middle Ages recall that early crusaders would pack a few slices of the sweet loaf to nourish them on their long travels. As time progressed, so did the fruitcake. In 18th century Victorian England, plum cakes were the new replacement being served with tea. Although the American version stems from the English and their plum cake, the origins of the infamous cake dates back to the ancient Romans. Since these early forms of the holiday cake, we have seen a globalized adoption and adaptation of the recipe from other countries. From the Spanish and Mexican pastry ring of Rosca de Reyes to the Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) rolled neatly in France, each country bears their own fruitful tradition.

Although a legacy treat, where has the excitement gone? Over the years, this sweet bread has caught a bad reputation. The decline of this phenomenon could be attributed to the negativity brought by mass-produced mail-order fruitcakes, making it both a “loved and loathed loaf,” as described by Smithsonian Magazine.

The legacy of fruitcake is eternal (it can last a month in the pantry, up to six months refrigerated and up to a year frozen). This season, try bringing back this holiday staple
by incorporating it into your holiday menu. For many, the fruitcake embodies true Christmas memories. With consumers having an urge to relive their nostalgic past, try a festive twist with this timeless treat. Make it modern for your millennial guests while also paying homage to older generations.

Try making unique flavor combinations that all will enjoy, like:
● A sweet and spicy light, white fruitcake with vanilla and rum
● Tangy citrus fruitcake infused with orange, lemon and lime zest
● Gingerbread fruitcake filled with figs, cranberries, and savory spices like nutmeg and cinnamon

Or try variations of the classic recipe, like:
● Better-than-fruitcake candy bark
● Soft or chewy fruitcake cookies
● Creamy white chocolate fruitcake fudge

Don’t just give fruitcake a facelift, modernize other classic cookies, cakes, and desserts by using new ingredients. With guests gathered around your dining table, help create and foster memories. The best way to spread holiday cheer is baking treats to end the year!


Emily is a former Performance Foodservice corporate Marketing Intern turned Millennial Correspondent. When she's not traveling the world experiencing new cuisines, she's exploring the newest food trends popping up in Chicago.


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