Did you know that fruit cake hails from ancient Rome as early as the 8th century BC? Remarkable!
The Romans used some wonderful ingredients in the original fruit cake recipes such as pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. Later, when food preservation techniques started to be used, different fruits were introduced and the humble fruit cake evolved into regionally specific recipes depending on availability of different fruits.
As you know, we only use real butter in our fruit cakes but prior to 1490 AD this wouldn’t have been allowed by the church. The introduction of butter, giving rise to a much improved taste and texture, was granted by Pope Innocent VIII.
The technique of preserving fruits using sugar opened up more possibilities to include imported fruits, resulting in a wider variety of speciality cake recipes becoming available. In addition, this made cakes more affordable and available to more people.
The introduction of alcohol enabled people to mature and preserve fruit cakes, enabling them to be kept for years.
Today, in the UK many different recipes are still used although the traditional fruit cake containing vine fruits and treacle.