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December 27th is National Fruitcake Day.  It’s said to be a day for the lovers of fruitcake.  The problem is that there are no lovers of fruitcake!  In fact the fruitcake is so abhorred that television personality Johnny Carson once said, “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world and people just keep sending it to each other.”

I personally believe the only reason people bake fruitcakes is so they will have it available for National Fruitcake Toss Day

Apparently the fruitcake dates back to the ancient Egyptians who placed fruitcake on the tombs of loved ones.  It was suppose to be food for their journey to the hereafter, but I’m certain archeologists have found when they opened some of these tombs that the fruitcake was both untouched, and the most well preserved thing in the tomb!

They became more common in Roman times when soldiers brought them to the battlefield with them.  The reference doesn’t state whether that was to eat them, or to launch them from their catapults to slaughter the enemy.

Somehow fruitcakes survived the centuries and in the early 18th century the boozy sugary fruitcake became associated with decadence and was outlawed as being “sinfully rich.”  (Truth).  I guess know we now know where that expression came from!

Unfortunately, the law banning fruitcake was repealed.

For the longest time I never understood the widespread dislike of fruitcakes.  It was because I didn’t know what they were.  My grandma used to make the most delicious boiled raisin cake.  I thought since raisins were fruit that it was a fruitcake.  Then in my adult life I tasted a real fruitcake  Later I tasted another or two.  I came to realize that they came in two varieties.  Bad and terrible!

My advice is that unless you really need to have something on hand for National Fruitcake Toss Day that you skip the traditional fruitcake and go with one that tastes good instead.  Unfortunately I don’t have the recipe for my grandma’s boiled raisin cake, but I can recommend a better alternative.

It’s called Stollen.  Stollen is a traditional German bread usually eaten during the Christmas season, when it is called Weihnachtsstollen (after “Weihnachten”, the German word for Christmas) or Christstollen (after Christ).

Stollen is a yeast bread, not a cake.  Stollen dough is low in sugar and the bread is smothered in butter and rolled in sugar as soon as it comes out of the oven.  The only resemblance to fruitcake is that it contains dried fruits and nuts such as candied orange peel, raisin, almonds and such.  

Unless you are a pastry chef, I don’t recommend making your own Stollen. The recipes are fairly complicated .  You can find them at Cost Plus this time of year, or order one from Amazon.  Give it a try.  You’ll never have to participate in National Fruitcake Toss Day again!

Sliced stollen, a traditional German fruit cake unlike American fruitcake

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