Most commercially made fruitcakes are alcohol-free, but traditional fruitcakes usually contained alcohol, both for the flavor and to preserve the cakes for months. Some people feel fruitcakes improve with age.
Back in the 1800s, wood burning stoves didn’t have temperature gauges, and oven temperatures varied based on the type and size wood used. You were supposed to learn how to determine the heat through experience. Some recipes ignored the oven temperature and others used terms such as a slow, moderate or quick oven.
Citron – A large fruit similar to a lemon, but with flesh that is less acid and peels that are thicker and more fragrant. Also, the rind of the fruit preserved in sugar.
Loaf-sugar – sugar sold in a hard block, which has to be broken and then pounded into sugar granules.
Moderate oven – about 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit; you could hold your hand in the oven about 45 seconds without burning.
Stone – to remove the stones of fruit; such as the seeds in raisins.
Yelks – yolks
INFORMATION BELOW FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS:
Rub one pound butter and one and one-half pounds sugar to a cream. Add eight eggs and beat. Now add one tablespoon lemon extract, one grated nutmeg, one tablespoon cinnamon, one half teaspoon cloves, and one pint sour cream. Now add four pounds raisins, one pound citron, two pounds almonds, two pounds English walnuts, two pounds flour with two teaspoons soda in it, and one glass of jelly. Bake three and one half hours in moderate oven. Pour one cup brandy over the top of cake after it is baked.
A RICH FRUIT CAKE
Have the following articles prepared before you begin the cake: dry and sift four pounds of flour, four pounds of butter with the salt washed out, two pounds of loaf-sugar pounded, one ounce of nutmegs grated, and an ounce of mace pounded. Wash four pounds of currants, dry, pick, and rub them in flour. Stone and cut two pounds of raisins, slice two pounds of citron, blanch a pound of sweet almonds and cut them in very thin slices. Break thirty eggs, separate the whites and yelks, and beat them till very light. Work the butter with your hand till it is soft as cream. Put in alternately the flour, sugar, and eggs. When all are mixed in, and the cake looks very light, add the spice, fruit, almonds, and half a pint of brandy. Set it in a well-heated oven to bake. When it has risen and the top is beginning to brown, cover it with paper. Let it bake four hours and when it is nearly cool, ice it. This will keep a long time in a stone pan, covered close.
A CHEAPER FRUIT CAKE
Take four pounds of flour, three of butter, three of sugar, two of raisins, one of currants, two dozen eggs, an ounce of mace, three nutmegs, and a half pint of brandy. If you want it dark, put in a little molasses. Mix the ingredients together as the above fruit cake, and bake it from two to three hours.
BLACK OR FRUIT CAKE
Stir four pounds of butter with five of sugar for twenty minutes. Beat forty eggs, the whites and yolks separate, and stir them into the butter and sugar. Then add a tablespoon of cinnamon, the same quantity of rosewater, a teaspoon of essence of lemon, or three of orange flower water, half an ounce of allspice, the same of mace, and a teaspoon of cloves. Stir in very gradually, five pounds of sifted flour. Mix three glasses of white wine, three of brandy, and two of milk. Stir it with the rest of the above ingredients for twenty minutes. Now stir in three-quarters of a pound of blanched, dried and pounded almonds, four pounds of stoned raisins, five of Zante currants, and a pound of citron, cut in small pieces. The fruit should be stirred in gradually, a handful of each kind alternately. Bake it immediately in a moderate oven for about two hours and a half. This kind of cake will keep good four or five months.