AskDefine | Define fruitcake

Dictionary Definition

fruitcake

Noun

1 a whimsically eccentric person [syn: crackpot, crank, nut, nut case, nutcase, screwball]
2 a rich cake containing dried fruit and nuts and citrus peel and so on

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

fruit*cake FROOT-keik

Etymology

fruit + cake

Noun

  1. A cake containing dried fruits and, optionally, nuts, citrus peel and spice.
  2. A crazy or eccentric person.
  3. In the context of "slang|pejorative": A male homosexual.

Translations

cake
person
homosexual

Extensive Definition

Fruitcake (or fruit cake) is a cake made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices, and optionally soaked in spirits. In the United Kingdom certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruitcakes are often served in the celebration of weddings and Christmas.

History

The earliest recipe from ancient Rome lists pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash.
In the Middle Ages, honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added and the name "fruitcake" was first used, from a combination of the words "fruit" (Latin: fructus, Old French: frui), and "cake" (Old Norse: kaka, Middle English: kechel).
Starting in the 16th century, inexpensive sugar from the American Colonies, and the discovery that high concentrations of sugar could preserve fruits, created an excess of candied fruit, thus making fruitcakes more affordable and popular Fruitcakes soon proliferated all over Europe, however recipes varied greatly in different countries and throughout the ages, depending on the available ingredients as well as in some instances on church regulations regarding the observance of fast (e.g. "Butterbrief").
In the 18th century in some areas in Europe, fruitcakes were made using nuts from the harvest for good luck in the following year. The cake was then saved and eaten before the harvest of the next year.
The fruitcake also remained popular at Victorian Teas in England throughout the 19th century.

Germany

Dresdner stollen is a fruitcake that originated in Dresden over 500 years ago. Traditional Stollen are made with yeast, water and flour, and usually succade, almonds, and spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. They are baked in a traditional form and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Stollen have a higher ratio of cake batter to fruit and nuts than American fruitcakes.

Italy

Panforte is a chewy, dense Tuscan fruitcake dating back to 13th century Siena. Panforte are stongly flavored with spices and baked in a shallow form.

In the United States

Typical American fruitcakes are rich in fruit and nuts.
Mail-order fruitcakes in America began in 1913. Some well-known American bakers of fruitcake include Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, and The Claxton Bakery in Claxton, Georgia. Both Collin Street and Claxton are southern companies with access to cheap nuts, for which the expression "nutty as a fruitcake" was derived in 1935. It is derived from the expression "nutty as a fruitcake", which was first recorded in 1935. It can also be used as a derogatory term to imply that a person is homosexual.

Notes

External links

fruitcake in German: Früchtebrot
fruitcake in French: Beerawecka
fruitcake in Polish: Keks
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