Friday, December 18, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 8 - Where in the world?

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

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!

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