Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wise Words Wednesday: End of Year

2015 - celebrating the 100th birthday of Raggedy Ann. Cloth doll by Wilma Simmons from a Happy Hearts pattern. 

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” 

I wish I said this but the credit goes to 
― Neil Gaiman

Friday, December 25, 2015

Countdown to Christmas - It's Christmas!

There's nothing more to say, except .... 
have your cake and eat it too! 
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 2 :This Goes with That



After preparing this Advent blog series, I am more convinced that there are many more stories about fruitcake still to be told, but here we are at  Christmas Eve already. If you have been following the blog, I am sure you are someone who enjoys a piece of  scrumptious fruitcake with a cup of tea or a cappucino, or a glass of wine. Culinary experts say that these days our palates are becoming more sophisticated and adventurous , and  contemporary food pairings are exciting challenges.  For me, a piece of my mum's fruitcake and a cup of Lady Grey is just as perfect a pairing as you can imagine. However,  foodie bloggers offer many more matches to explore:

Alcohol is obviously a tried and true partner of fruitcake :
A great opportunity to show off a sweet sherry or Madeira. A sweet oloroso sherry ...is delicious with crumbly, rich fruit cakes as is a sweet 5 or 10 year old Madeira.... A richly flavoured whisky aged in sherry casks- can also be great with a fruit cake. As can a barley wine (strong, sweet beer).
There are those who will argue that a tawny port is the perfect accompaniment to a rich fruit cake, and there are of course thousands who will swear that a  strong red wine can't be beaten as a mate for fruitcake. Even a recipe for "Fruitcake French Toast" uses egg nog instead of milk to soak the bread.
Of course you could just combine the cake with the alcohol  for a cocktail....
What about food pairings? It has long been a tradition to eat cheese with their fruitcake in the United Kingdom. Of course, not any cheese! 
Of course it depends on the cheese. I certainly wouldn't enjoy a washed rind cheese like a Munster or a Stinking Bishop with a piece of cake but a mild hard English cheese like Wensleydale or Cheshire goes rather well. Or a creamy Stilton. .... Others recommend an old cheddar or parmesan or even blue cheese. 
I realise that a few of the following suggestions would hardly tempt the gourmet, but I have tried all of these and I think they make great pairings. 

1. Fruitcake and Ice cream - Just add chopped up fruitcake to softened vanilla ice cream. Add a few more nuts and glace cherries if preferred, and refreeze. A more sophisticated pairing of fruit cake and ice cream can result in a beautiful terrine.. This video shows you how easy it really is. 

 2. Yoghurt can also be used as a substitute for the ice cream in such desserts as parfaits - just your favourite yoghurt, mixed with blueberries, and topped with crumbled fruitcake.
3. Fruitcake Trifle is just another variation of   great pairings -fruit cake, with custard and jelly. 

I hope some of these ideas of great pairing with fruitcake might inspire you over the next few days to see the versatility of your Christmas cake.

Information sources and photo credits:
http://www.drvino.com/2009/12/23/christmas-fruitcake-wine-pairing/
http://thecheeselover.blogspot.com.au/2008/10/fruitcake-and-cheese.html
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/fruitcake-parfaits-recipe.html
http://www.mnn.com/food/recipes/blogs/7-ideas-for-leftover-fruitcake

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 3 : Ha Ha!

 As we come close to the end of this Advent blog exploring all there is know about fruitcake, I felt there had to be at least one post sharing some of those terrible Christmas cracker jokes about fruitcake and some other forms of fruitcake humour. WARNING : Some of these jokes are pathetic!
These ones are especially for one of my grandsons ...
Q. What is the best thing to put into a Christmas cake?
A. Your teeth!
Q. What do crackers, nuts and fruitcake remind you of?
A. You !
Q. Why is History like a fruitcake?
A: It is full of dates!
Q. Who beats his chest and swings from Christmas cake to Christmas cake?
A: Tarzipan!
 And if it couldn;t get any worse ....
Knock Knock
Who's there? 
Nettie
Nettie who? 
You're Nettie than a fruitcake!
 And here is
And here is a recipe to be enjoyed .... so much better when listened to, so click the link at the bottom of the recipe.
Christmas Rum Cake 
Ingredients : 
1 tsp sugar
1 or 2 quarts tum
1 cup dried fruit
brown sugar
1 tsp soda
1 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 cup baking powder
3 juiced lemons
1 cup nuts

Method :
Before starting sample the rum to check the quality. Good, isn't it? Now proceed
Select a large mixing bowl and measuring cups
Check the rum again. It must be just right, To be sure rum is of proper quality, pour one level cup into a glass and drink it as fast as you can. Repeat ...
With electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add I seaspoon of thusar and beat again.
Meanwhile, make sure the rum is still alrighty. Try another cup. Open the second quart if necessary.
Add leggs, 2 cups of fried druit and beat til high. If druit gets stuck in beaters , pry loose with a drewscriber.
Sample the rum again, checking for tonscisticity .
Next, sift 3 cups pepper or salt - it really doesn't matter which.
Sample the rum
Sift 1/2 pint of lemon juice. Fold in chopped up butter and strained nuts. Add 1 bablespoon of brown sugar, or whatever colour you can find.
Wix mell. Grease oven. Turn cake pan to 350 gredees. Pour mess in boven and ake.
Check rum again and bo to ged.
... Halpie Holiglaze Two Y'aa!

And here's the last .... Look at the world as a big fruitcake . It wouldn't be complete without a few nuts in it. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 4: Secrets





We all want to bake the perfect Christmas fruitcake, so for this blog, I searched for the tips and secrets of the most famous bakers around the world. Regrettably I cannot possibly share some of recipes and tips for the "world's best fruitcake" - not because I want to keep them secret, but because I simply cannot understand them - like the example above in Urdu. However, I consulted just one American, one Australian and one British  baking expert to make a "to do list" for the perfect cake.  
Firstly from American author, Dolores Casella, renowned for her two classic cookbooks, The World of Baking and The World of Bread :

  1. Make fruitcake well in advance of the time that they will be used. One month of storage is the minimum.
  2. Freeze fruitcake only after it has been stored for at least 4 weeks.
  3. Take several days to make your cake or cakes. prepare the nuts and fruits, pour the liquor to be used over them, and let the mixture stand well covered for two or three days. Then make the batter and bake your cakes.
  4. Always bake fruitcakes at a low temperature
  5. Line the pans with brown paper or waxed paper to prevent the cakes from burning during the long baking time.
  6. Always place a pan of hot water on the floor of the oven. This prevents the cakes from drying out.
  7. Cool fruitcakes on a rack in the pans in which they were baked. When cakes are cooled, turn them out of the pans and carefully peel off the paper.
  8. If you are not decorating the cakes before storing them, wrap them in cheesecloth. Sprinkle liberally with whatever liquor or wine was used in the recipe. 
  9. Seal the cakes in plastic wrap or in plastic storage bags. Once a week, brush the cakes with more liquor.
  10. Perhaps the most important, don't feel absolutely bound by a recipe
Fruit Cake to feed a crowd, prepared by Alison Alexander ( - 612 ABC Brisbane)
Alison Alexander is a Brisbane based food consultant and Queensland Food Fellow who write the food blog, Seasonal Pursuits. Alison's tips mostly relate to the quality of the ingredients: 
  1. Choose good quality dried fruit and nuts. Check that there is no taint of rancidity in the nuts. Cut fruit to the same size as sultanas.Any combination of fruit is OK, but must be equal weight to your recipe. 
  2. Use unsalted butter
  3. Line the tin - brown paper, greaseproof paper or baking paper - two layers  
  4. Use large hen's eggs or duck eggs 
  5. If white sugar is used in the recipe , use caster sugar. Otherwise  use brown sugar, golden syrup or treacle for a darker cake. Parisian essence may be used to darken the colour of the cake as it has no taste. 
  6. Medium sherry, run, brandy or an orange flavoured liqueur are the usual flavours for dousing the cakes. Alison Alexander  also agrees  with the American author about the storage of the cakes and warns that In Australia, while  it might be a temptation to store the cake in the fridge in summer, be careful as it may crystallise the sugar content of the cake. 
I particularly enjoyed reading the article by UK chef, Felicity Cloake  in The Guardian . The article is entitled "How to cook the perfect Christmas cake" . Felicity Cloake is a writer specialising in food and drink and was the winner of 2011 Guild of Food Writers Awards for Food Journalist of the Year.  She also wrote the award winning  recipe book "Perfect" .  After critiquing recipes for fruitcakes by the rich and famous, Felicity Cloake offers this advice. " A Christmas cake should be rich and spicy, bursting with boozy fruit, but never ever heavy. After all you need to leave room for a mince pie. "  And here is the recipe...
 Perfect Christmas cake

Felicity's perfect Christmas cake
 Felicity's perfect Christmas cake. Photograph: Felicity Cloak
250g currants
250g sultanas
100g dried figs, roughly chopped
100g glacé cherries, cut in half
100g mixed peel
125ml whisky, plus extra to feed
125g butter, softened
125g muscovado sugar (unrefined brown sugar)
4 eggs, beaten
130g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
50g ground almonds
Grated zest of 1 lemon
50g whole almonds
25g crystallised ginger, chopped

1. Put the dried fruit and peel in a bowl along with the whisky, cover and leave to soak overnight. Stir well before use. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with 2 layers of baking parchment.

2. Preheat the oven to 140C. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition so the mixture doesn't curdle.

3. Mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, spice, ground almonds and a pinch of salt and then fold this into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the soaked fruits, and any remaining whisky, the lemon zest, chopped almonds and ginger, and stir to combine.

4. Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the surface, scooping out a small hollow in the middle to prevent a doming effect.

5. Put the cake in the oven for about an hour, then cover with foil, and bake for another 30 minutes and then check the cake. It's done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean – check every 10 minutes until it's cooked.

6. Leave to cool in the tin then use the skewer to poke a few holes almost all the way through the cake, and brush them with more whisky. With the baking parchment still attached, wrap well in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin or a layer of foil, repeating the feeding every week or so until you're ready to ice just before Christmas.

Information sources:  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/nov/17/how-cook-perfect-christmas-cake; http://www.abc.net.au/local/recipes/2007/11/28/2316622.htm; http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/fruitcakesec.htm

Monday, December 21, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 5: Fit for a Queen?


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
HRH at the Women's Institute Centenary 

Fruitcake fit for a queen! Sounds like a good marketing line, but  there are many claims which suggest that the fruitcake, has been and remains a royal favourite! 


" Fruitcake gets a bad rap because so much of what's sold is really not good," says Bob McNutt, vice president of the Collins Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas,  which has been making pecan fruitcakes for 95 years. "It's like cars. You can buy one off the used-car lot for $100 or pay $300,000 for one." McNutt, who sells cakes to the Aga Khan and Princess Caroline of Monaco, was recently happy to learn that Queen Elizabeth II always travels with a fruitcake, which she eats with her afternoon tea." www.collinstreet.com 


How did it all start?  As far back as 1674, the Guildford (UK) Show records indicate that a large plum cake was presented to the Duke of York who later was crowned James II. The fruitcake became so popular in England  in Victorian times that no respectable hostess would have dared not to serve fruitcake. While the origins of fruitcake may even be dated back to the Egyptians, the plum fruitcake became a essential menu item for special occasions - Christmas, weddings and christenings - and especially those associated with the Royal Family.  As already mentioned in an earlier post, Queen Victoria,lest she been seen as lacking in restraint and good taste, waited a whole year before she ate a fruitcake gifted to her. The young Queen Victoria's  own wedding cake by all accounts was a rich fruit cake (one 14 inch layer), but the recipe remains a secret...
"Thanks to royal reticence and tight-lipped bakers, the make up of many cake behind the frosting has remained something of a mystery. In 1840 the Observer described Queen Victoria's wedding cake in vague — if florid — terms as "consisting of the most exquisite compounds of all the rich things with which the most expensive cakes can be composed, mingled, and mixed together in delightful harmony by the most elaborate science of the confectioner." www.saveur.com

Mary, Queen Consort and Queen Mother 
In "Edible Histories , Cultural Politics" there is one rather intriguing reference to an Anglo-Canadian lawyer, named Mary P Hyndman who claims:
" I sent one of these cakes [light fruit cake] to Queen Mary in 1949, having been first invited to visit her in the summer of that year, after which we corresponded . Thereafter I sent one to her each year, the last one in 1953.

Perhaps this is where the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II,Queen Mary's granddaughter developed her liking for fruitcake. Queen Elizabeth like her ancestor in the 17th century was presented with a fruitcake as a gift in 1957 at the Guildford Show. Fruitcake tins like the one pictured below also suggest that Her Majesty has long  been a fan of fruitcake.  Fruitcake can also provide light hearted moments for Royalty . Earlier this year,  the Queen cutting the cake for Centenary celebrations of the Women's Institute made news headlines  by pretending that she couldn't cut through it because of its density - a joke shared at the time by the Princess Royal  and the Duchess of Wessex.  
Dundee Cake Tin 
Christmas cake 1992 
Could you imagine that this Christmas fruitcake, with its garish icing and rather comical Santa figure would be considered fit for the Queen? 
The cake was made for Queen Elizabeth , Christmas 1992  - a year of bad press for the Royal family. The sweet creation was something of an antidote to a troubling year for the royal family, former palace chef, Darren McGrady, says. "It had to be a fun one after what the Queen called the annus horribilis of that year," That was the year  Prince Charles and Princess Diana , Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson and split, and a fire tore through Windsor Castle.


The choice of fruitcake as a special  Royal occasion cake continues, however with multi layers and elaborate decoration.   
Prince George - Christening 

Record - Most expensive piece of cake. 
But if the cake is fit for a future king  or queen then the price will reflect that.  Recently a piece of the fruitcake served at William and Catherine's wedding sold for $7,500 US. The record for a piece of Royal fruitcake had previously been held by a piece of the wedding cake of Charles and Diana ($6000) and prior to that 2,730 pounds for a piece of fruitcake from the wedding of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. Long live Fruitcake ! 

Tomorrow : Expert tips. 
Information /Photo Credits : Wikipedia, www,saveur,com, www.collinstreet.com, Edible Histories. Cultural Politics , www.people.com , www.etsy.com 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 6 - Blast off!




How do fruitcakes travel?  Stories of fruitcake on the Crusades, battles and pilgrimages as well as a more recent report of a fruitcake being taken up to Mt Everest are not surprising. My own travel story involves Papua New Guinea and my friend, Phil who makes fruitcakes and vacuum seals them to be opened later as a special treat when travelling and working as volunteers on special projects in the PNG highlands.  Not only did the cakes travel well, they were delicious and so welcome as a treat with  a cuppa, - always timed perfectly when homesickness  and fatigue set in after being away from home for  too long. Earlier in this countdown, I discovered that on some airlines fruticake is a banned substance becuase its density confuses scanners.. Phil's fruitcake has never had a problem travelling by plane!
from http://mentalfloss.com/article/60595/15-fun-facts-about-fruitcake
 So much for going to exotic places! This fruitcake  I think has the best travel story - to the moon and back! Disguised in  a space food package, this compressed pineapple fruitcake  was flown on Apollo 11 Space Mission. . As it was not consumed during the mission it was returned to earth and transferred to the National Air and Space Museum from NASA. The food was protected with a 4-ply, laminated film coating. This protected the food from loss of flavour, moisture and oxygen invasion, spoiling and excess crumbling, and was used on both the rehydratable and the bite-sized foods. from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  A typical Apollo menu suggests pineapple fruitcake as a lunch item for the astronauts. 
from http://io9.gizmodo.com/vintage-menu-recalls-a-time-when-pineapple-fruitcake-wa-1688775507


I am not sure what is the going price for a piece of fruitcake which has been in space, but here is  an auction lot described if you would like to own one.

Unique freeze-dried ‘space food’ from the collection of Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott. The first item, labeled “Corn Chowder,” measures 3.5 x 11 and rests within a sealed pouch to which a nozzle is attached. The label also bears the simple heating instructions; the other is a 4.5 x 3.5 block of four pieces labelled “Pineapple Fruit Cake.” Also included is a sealed skin cleaning towel. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Dave Scott stating “I hereby certify that this Apollo Food is from my personal collection.” In fine condition. RRAuction COA. 


There are few foods which can claim to be still edible after outer space travel - is that a positive or negative characteristic of the fruitcake? At least, it has the reputation of not spoiling in extreme conditions. 

Tomorrow - Fruitcake's connections to royalty. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 7- Fruitcake Lady


from Facebook Page /The Fruitcake Lady 
There are not many people who can say they showed Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise how to make fruitcake on TV. Marie Rudisill (1911-2006), known as the Fruitcake Lady was an author, a celebrated cook and a minor TV personality. She was well known on US television as a 90+year old who appeared regularly on "The Tonight Show" hosting an" agony aunt" segment, giving advice on all kinds of life's issues.  Her forthright answers and wicked sense of humour endeared her to audiences although she was outspokenly intolerant and irrationally biased.
The Fruitcake Lady's other claim to fame was that she was the aunt of Truman Capote, highly acclaimed author, and this connection was used in her own writing. Her published works included:

  • Truman Capote , The Story of  His Bizarre and Exotic Childhood by an Aunt Who Helped to Raise Him (1983) 
  • Sook's Cookbook : Memories and Traditional Recipes from the Deep South (1989) 
  • Critters, Cafes and Frog Tea: Tales and Treats from the Emerald River (1994) 
  • Fruitcake :Memories of Trumna Capote & Sook (2000) 
  • The Southern Haunting of Truman Capote (2000) 
  • Ask the Fruitcake Lady Everything You Would Already Know If You had Any Sense (2006) 
from Wikipedia. 



Marie Rudisill became the Fruitcake Lady after she appeared on the Jay Leno show , showing Jay and Mel Gibson how to make a fruitcake in 2000. The family's connection with fruitcake is recalled by Marie in her description of Truman Capote and his older cousin Sook. Together each Christmas, they would bake fruitcakes and send them to various people on their list - not family or close friends, but people they admired, for example Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"I tell you the most fantastic thing about Sook's cooking was her fruitcakes. Really I am not kidding! I mean really!"
from http://bittersoutherner.com/sweet-as-sugar-rude-as-hell/#.VnOHQRV97IU
However, her recollections about Truman Capote's life were not without controversy.  Even Harper Lee questioned the veracity of her accounts of their hometown, Monroeville in Alabama. Capote was not so much  upset by Rudisill's revelations about his life, but the cruel treatment of his mother, her older sister, in her books. Described as "Sweet as Sugar and Rude as Hell" , the Fruitcake Lady's finest legacy is probably Sook's  Cookbook as  a contribution to the history of  Deep South and its food traditions. Yet her family continued to dominate her writing and thinking ....  Rudisill said: "Somebody said to me one time: "Has being Truman Capote's aunt affected your life?'"My God, it sapped my life.
"It's a weird family, I kid you not. But it's a fabulous family. We took care of our own, there's no question about that." And I think this quote just about sums up the wit of the Fruitcake Lady...
 PS: I found a funny coincidence when researching this story. Marie Rudisill's trusted co writing companion was a Jim Simmons ( my husband's name!)  he co wrote at least 2 of her books. 
Tomorrow - we are going on a trip with fruitcake. 


Friday, December 18, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 8 - Where in the world?



from http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/barker/christmas/christmas.html
Christmas Cake in Four Quarters 
Where else in the world is the Christmas fruitcake?  Here are just a few of the more well known....

Germany:   Stollen is a traditional fruitcake for Christmas. It is loaf shaped and dredged with powdered icing sugar. The most famous recipe is the Dresden stollen sold at the equally famous Christmas markets. However, I tasted an absolutely scrumptious stollen just a couple of days ago (right in the heart of Newcastle NSW Australia)  and that's what inspired this blog post.

Italy : I think they like fruitcake in Italy?  Panforte is a heavy Tuscan cake , from the traditions of 13th century, heavily spiced and baked in a shallow pan. Panettone is a another sweet fruit cake, made with dried and glace fruits. Also well known is the fruitcake from Genoa. I remember it filled with lots of glace cherries, but I am not sure if this is what is called Pandolce.



Ireland: Barmbrack was traditionally eaten at Halloween - a fruitcake with special charms which predicted the fortune of the person who ate the slice of cake.

"Barmbrack is a traditional Irish cake eaten on holidays. After pouring into the prepared pan, it is tradition to add objects to the barmbrack which symbolize certain things for the person who receives each in their slice. Thoroughly clean objects before adding them to the barmbrack. These objects can be pressed into the bottom of the loaf after baking instead: coin-wealth or good fortune; ring-will marry within the year; bean-poverty; pea-will not marry within the year; matchstick-unhappy marriage; thimble-single for life." from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/162072/irish-barmbrack/


Portugal : Bolo Rei ( the King's cake) has its origins in France, but is now a popular cake for Christmas. It is usually made with a hold in the centre - a crown - with lots of crystallized fruits and nits. A fava  bean ( broad bean) is usually placed inside the cake and whoever receives the bean makes the bolo rei for the following year. The story of the bean dates back to the Magi, who supposedly met a baker on their way to greet the Baby Jesus, and he gave them a cake with a bean baked inside . The baker told them whoever got the bean had to give Jesus the first gift.  

Spain : Bollo de Higo ( Fig bun) is a traditional fruit cake with figs, other dried fruits and nuts, shaped by hand into a roll.  I have never tasted this, but others say it is a little like Italian  panforte.

I am sure there are many other countries who have a fruitcake tradition, and of course I will devote a whole post to the English tradition later in the blog, but these are the ones I think are most known....

However, I came across the digital book :Christmas Cake in Four Quarters  (1871)  where the story wanders from England, to Jamaica, to India and to New Zealand.... so something for you to follow up if you are interested in the multi-cultural  experiences of Christmas fruitcake.
Tomorrow :? It will be a surprise for you and me!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 9 - Seasonal Science

Professional and amateur bakers alike might insist that baking a Christmas fruitcake is an art, but is it science? A couple of days ago I listed suggested crazy uses of fruitcake, but on none of the lists was as a science experiment. Again, I was wrong....




Fruitcake Science Festival;
The Science Museum of Virginia conduct unconventional science experiments on fruitcake as an annual holiday event on 26 December.- 30 December.  Fruitcakes are burnt, dropped from great heights and even nitrogen frozen all in the name of science. In one demonstration, a museum educator found that fruitcake was so dense that  all attempts of  burning, freezing, and beating made much difference to the cake. “Fruitcakes are like cockroaches, they’ll survive pretty much anything,” said Kramer, a science educator at the museum.





Fruitcake Physics: For a more practical approach to fruitcake science experiments, Professor Braham of University of Bristol examines the crystal structure of molecules of food while it's being baked. Barham's experiments probably tell us exactly what we already know from experience - fruticake tastes better when it's aged. " The skins of dried fruits contain the same tannins that age red wines, creating complex flavours that young wines--and fruitcakes--lack. Moreover, the high sugar content of homemade cakes prevents bacterial growth, although Barham warns that some commercial fruitcakes might not survive the ageing process. He recommends ageing only those that are expected to last more than a month or two. "Look at the use-by date," says Barham. "If it's 6 months away, it might as well be 6 years."
 There are of course other scientists who argue that an aged fruticake might have better flavour, but it still  can become dry but Barham claims that by wrapping a seemingly dry cake in foil and heating it gently, the cake's starch crystals will be disrupted, and restore the cake to its freshness. 
Interesting that cookbook author Dolores Casella, without science, has her own method of handling a stale, dry fruitcake. "Pour a liberal amount of brandy over it and allow a day or two for it to soak in," she says.
School Science : I am not sure how excited  students would be about an experiment, consistent with the Australian Standard Curriculum, called Fruitcake Mining. The experiment aims to simulate issues related to extracting different minerals and deals with the environmental impact of mining. The children are asked to estimate the value of their mine lease (fruitcake), with different fruit representing different minerals e.g. SULTANA  $0.85; FRUIT RIND  $0.90; CHERRY  $1.10 
The students are then asked to extract the minerals (fruit) with tweezers and toothpicks, and then  calculate the results of mining - its commercial value. The next step is to reshape what is left as close as possible to its original shape  and suggest how the environmental impacts might be minimised ? from Oresome Resources 
I would never have used the adjective" educational" associated with "fruitcake", but here are just a few examples of the fruitcake's  contribution to science.
Tomorrow, multicultural fruitcake. 
  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 10 : Fruit cake Fashion

Every year, at the beginning of Advent, I give each of my grandchildren a Christmas T shirt. I have never found a Christmas Fruitcake T shirt in the shopping centres in my neighbourhood, but obviously I haven't been looking hard enough. What a selection to choose from if "fruitcake" fashion is your T shirt  preference.... 




There are the inevitable "Keep Calm and ....

While T shirts are the appropriate Christmas attire for the southern hemisphere, What about all those "thinking of a white Christmas" ... only if you are  want to attract attention...

. And if you are celebratng your first Christmas, there is no reason to miss out.
No more predicable plain coloured socks and matching tie as a gift , everyone can get in the spirit of Christmas fruitcake....

However, I think the ultimate in Fruitcake Fashion is  Fruitcake footwear - designed for  an Australian summer Christmas.

Note: The fruitcake fashions shown on this blog post are from www.zazzle.com and and www.cafepress.com
Tomorrow : Fruitcake Science