Fruitcake's extended family

Panforte

Fruitcake has gotten a bad rap. What used to be a celebratory cake studded with dried fruit and nuts that was moist and flavorful turned into a caricature of itself, morphing into a products that was overly sweet yet somehow dry, with neon-colored bits that barely resemble anything in the fruit world. No wonder most fruitcakes end up in the trash bin.

It doesn't have to be that way, says Tess Panzer of Yahoo! DIY."Think quality dried fruit and crunchy nuts. Think of good brandy. Think toasted, warming spices. Revamp that glowing old loaf, and give it new, rustic depth of flavor and the TLC it deserves."

You don't have to stick with traditional fruitcake, either. Different regions have different takes on the holiday treat, Panzer notes. "German Stollen incorporates marzipan for a sweet and nutty flavor that also keeps the cake from drying out." There's also a traditional Italian favorite, panforte, which contains fruit, nuts, and spices but no eggs or leavener and only a little flour. This results in a dense, chewy and spicy treat. 

Christmas puddings also fall on the fruitcake spectrum, and if made properly, "soaked in brandy or sherry and sticky with beautiful dried figs and currants, can be to die for. " Which fruitcake family member do you prefer? 

Photo of Panforte from Jamie Magazine

2 Comments

  • Foodycat  on  12/14/2014 at 3:14 PM

    I think it may be mostly an American thing that fruit cake is treated so disrespectfully! In the UK and Australia it is still very popular!

  • Jane  on  12/15/2014 at 11:11 AM

    I agree Foodycat, I was about to post the same comment. Fruitcakes in Britain (and former British colonies) are moist and greatly appreciated at this time of year. But we do love dried fruit in lots in ways - mincemeat for mince pies (and other desserts), Christmas pudding, sticky toffee pudding (made with dates).

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