[caption id="attachment_14485" align="alignleft" width="400"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/12\/fruitcake-1.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/12\/fruitcake-1.jpg" alt="Fruitcake is enjoyed all year long in the United Kingdom and Europe, but is usually only consumed at Christmastime in the United States. To add color to the cake, Amanda Fraser covers it in fondant and decorates with Christmas-themed fondant. Photo courtesy of Dunmore Caterers" width="400" height="421" class="size-full wp-image-14485" \/><\/a> Fruitcake is enjoyed all year long in the United Kingdom and Europe, but is usually only consumed at Christmastime in the United States. To add color to the cake, Amanda Fraser covers it in fondant and decorates with Christmas-themed fondant. Photo courtesy of Dunmore Caterers[\/caption]\r\n\r\nSuzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nIn most instances, the mention of fruitcake is met with a wary look or something worse, but that reaction is found only in the United States.\r\n\r\nThe fruitcake we know, and love to hate, is nothing like the original cake from the United Kingdom and European countries.\r\nFor Dunmore residents and caterers Amanda and Kevin Fraser \u2013 who moved to the U.S. from South Africa\u00a0\u2013 fruitcake was and still is a tasty and enjoyable treat.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe eat it year-round,\u201d Amanda said. \u201cAny wedding cake or birthday cake or christening cake will be [fruitcake] with marzipan and fondant. Then for Sunday dessert, you slice little loaves, put hot custard on it and eat it.\u201d\r\n\r\nFruitcake originated in ancient Rome and featured pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and raisins mixed in a barley mash. The treat soon spread and evolved, with countries adding their own local fruits and flavors to the mix.\r\n\r\nThe main ingredients include dried fruits, glazed fruits, citrus peels and either brandy, rum or sherry. Because the cake does not have a lot of liquid ingredients, the alcohol is what keeps the cake moist, as well as preserving it.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat we used to do in South Africa, if I\u2019d kept fruitcake long-term, I\u2019d unwrap the foil and sprinkle brandy on it once every two weeks and wrap it back up,\u201d Amanda said. \u201cIf it was iced, what you do is take an insulin syringe and inject brandy into the cake.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn the early 1900s, fruitcake was preserved with brandy by wrapping it in cheesecloth and soaking it in a bucket.\r\n\r\nThe fruitcake available in the U.S. around Christmastime has only basic similarities with \u201creal fruitcake,\u201d Amanda said.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat you have here, it\u2019s an insult to fruitcake,\u201d she said. \u201cThat\u2019s what I always tell people. Because fruitcake has got such a bad reputation, people joke about it. We don\u2019t joke about it. I always tell people, \u2018don\u2019t knock this until you\u2019ve tried it, even if you hate fruitcake, because it\u2019s nothing like you\u2019re used to.\u2019\u201d\r\n\r\nWhen she makes fruitcake, Amanda starts with a mixture of dried fruit, butter, sugar and brandy.\r\n\r\n\u201cA lot of the European recipes \u2013\u00a0each country tweaks it to their taste \u2013\u00a0the main ingredient is always dried fruit,\u201d she said. \u201cWe use this combination \u2013 a variety of seven different raisins: yellow raisins, dark raisins, currents, sultanas, and then dried fruit, orange peel, lemon peel or lime peel. Then you add your glazed cherries. What we do in South Africa, because there is so little liquid in this, we add chopped dates right at the end when you start mixing it because dates retain a lot of moisture, so that makes it moister cake.\u201d\r\n\r\nAmanda usually makes a large batch of fruitcakes at one time, so she uses a lot of ingredients.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe way I was taught, you take your fruit, except your dates, and you melt a pound of butter in a heavy bottom pan,\u201d she explained. \u201cThen, I add sugar \u2013 half white, half brown sugar \u2013 then I add my fruit. The only liquid that goes in there other than the melted butter is a good dose of brandy depending on how much fruit you are doing.\u201d\r\n\r\nAmanda lets the mixture boil down slowly, then adds vanilla, and lets the mixture cool overnight.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe taste of fruitcake, and people don\u2019t realize this, is vanilla, brandy, butter and caramel or butterscotch flavor,\u201d she said. \u201cIt just gives it that extra something nobody can place.\u201d\r\n\r\nAfter the mixture is cool, Amanda adds baking soda, all-purpose flour and eggs to bind everything together.\r\n\r\n\u201cThen you put it in a pan with three layers of brown baking paper and you bake it for half-an-hour at the higher temperature \u2013 350, 375 \u2013\u00a0just so it can crust over and get the rising agents acting. Then you turn it down and halfway through, you can take the top paper off and just bake it until it\u2019s done,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nIt can take up to four hours to properly bake fruitcake, so Amanda said it\u2019s good to check the process often.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou don\u2019t want to overbake it,\u201d she said. \u201cThat\u2019s why if it gets to two-and-a-half hours and I taste it, the tester will be damp because of all the fruit that\u2019s in there. If there\u2019s still dough, you know it\u2019s not fully cooked. I like using as a tester \u2013 for any cake, bread, fruitcake \u2013\u00a0a piece of spaghetti because if it goes limp, you know there\u2019s too much liquid in there.\u201d\r\n\r\nOnce the fruitcake is baked, Amanda said it is important to \u201cabsolutely douse it with brandy.\u201d For those who are not fans of alcohol, Amanda says all the alcohol burns off by the time the fruitcake is cooled and ready to eat.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe thing is so piping hot, the alcohol burns off,\u201d she said. \u201cAlso, the brandy that\u2019s in the mix, the alcohol is gone. It\u2019s the taste that\u2019s there.\u201d\r\n\r\nAmanda lets the fruitcake cool for a day before serving it or decorating it with marzipan and fondant.\r\n\r\nAs a baker and cake decorator, Amanda has made her fair share of fruitcakes for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.\r\n\r\nIn the United Kingdom and European countries, all wedding cakes are fruitcake and hold many traditions within them.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen it\u2019s made as a wedding cake, the whole cake is cake, but there might also be a dummy cake on the bottom tier,\u201d Amanda said. \u201cThe two side cakes to the big cake are there because there\u2019s specific occasions for each of these cakes. The side cakes normally go to the bride\u2019s parents and the groom\u2019s parents.\u201d\r\n\r\nUnlike the lavish wedding cakes made popular in the U.S., wedding cakes in South Africa were only a few tiers with side cakes.\r\nHolding up the cakes was the bottom tier \u201cdummy cake\u201d which was made of wood and was hollow. Inside were slices of cake for the guests.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere\u2019s a little door in the back of this dummy cake and all these pieces are hidden inside,\u201d Amanda said. \u201cSo they pose for the picture as if they\u2019re cutting the cake and then normally, the flower girl or somebody will get all these pieces in a basket and go around to each guest, and hand them their piece of cake.\r\n\r\n\u201cNine times out of ten, they won\u2019t eat it because there\u2019s also a story that if you are single and you put that [cake]under your pillow the night of the wedding, you will dream of who you\u2019re going to marry,\u201d she continued. \u201cIt\u2019s a little folklore to it.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile fruitcake continues to be a year-round treat enjoyed in the UK and Europe, it remains somewhat of a gag gift in America.\r\n\r\n\u201cEverybody\u2019s got their little tradition,\u201d Amanda said.