Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

fruitcake is a mixture of butter, sugar, flour, and beaten egg, fragrant with spices and packed with dried fruit. Echoing medieval flavors, it is one of the glories of British baking and long considered a luxury food. According to Barbara Wheaton in Savoring the Past, the first “recognizable cakes” appear in La Varenne’s 1651 Le pâtissier francois. In England, Robert May’s 1685 recipe for “an extraordinary good Cake” is a yeast-leavened fruitcake, a style that lasted until the Victorian era. It was Ann Blencowe (1694) who pointed the way to today’s cakes by using whisked eggs to aerate her yeast-free Brandy Cake.