What’s the deal with fruitcake?

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By ANTHONY FLORES

Doing a Google search on the word fruitcake brings up more than a few amusing results, notably in the “people also ask” section.

The top two questions are, “Is fruitcake good?” and “What’s the deal with fruitcake?”

The infamous holiday dessert has proved to be a divisive topic for decades, even stirring a variety of reactions and emotions here in Liberty Hill.

The history of the fruitcake dates as far back as ancient Roman times, with a simple recipe of pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed into a cake made out of barley mash. As time moved forward, the basic recipe changed and adapted region by region.

In Australia and Bulgaria, fruitcake is a year-round delicacy. In Ireland, it’s commonly eaten during their Halloween season. Here in the U.S, fruitcake is a staple at Christmas.

Liberty Hill resident Stacey Gately is pro fruitcake, sharing a sentimental connection with it.

“I love fruitcake. It reminds me of my great-grandmother,” said Gately. “She always brought fruitcake with rum. There are so many memories. I love it to this day. I like the candied fruit, and the nuts and the whole top layer is amazing.”

Debbie Vinson Harrison doesn’t mince words when making her feelings clear on the cake.

“I hate it, and it goes straight in the trash,” said Harrison. “When I was young, I ate some of the candied fruit and vomited for days.”

In Corsicana, Collin Street Bakery has been serving up and shipping out fruitcakes to all 50 states and 196 countries since 1896. For Tim Anderson, this is his source for the best fruitcake.

“I grew up in Dallas-Fort Worth, and my folks would get one from Collin Street Bakery. I was totally just meh on it growing up. Then 15 years or so ago, I moved out of Texas and lived all over the country,” he said. “It was after moving out of Texas, come Christmastime, I kind of had this desire to have a little bit of Texas at Christmas. They are easy enough to order and ship anywhere, so it almost came more symbolic than anything, albeit I did develop a fond taste for it.”

Liberty Hill Junior High Principal Travis Motal is on the side of the fruitcake, but not for the reasons one would assume.

“Yes, I am for fruit cake because it reminds me of just how much I love all the other desserts more,” said Motal.

Liberty Hill Elementary Principal Heather Collison has a different idea of why she might like fruitcake.

“This may sound a little strange, but I have never had the opportunity to try fruit cake,” said Collison. “I love cake and fruit; my guess is I would enjoy a piece of fruit cake.”

Siding against the fruitcake, Santa Rita Elementary Principal Kristine Kline has a better alternative.

“Fruitcake was a tradition in my family that ended with me,” said Kline. “Sugar cookies and pumpkin pie. Now that’s the way to go.”

Diane Brown isn’t a fan of the fruitcake. She has a creative alternative use for it, along with an interesting conspiracy theory.

“I don’t care for them. My father loved them. When I receive one now, it is used as a seasonal doorstop,” she said. “I’ve also heard that there is really only one fruitcake, and it has made its way around the world, visiting each home at least once since its inception.”

In Melanie Ledesma’s household, the feelings on the holiday staple go both ways.

“My husband loves it. Looks forward to having one every year,” Ledesma said. “We have a friend that makes one for him every year. I just can’t make myself like it. Just too many weird chewy flavors.”

As it stands, the sentiment towards fruitcake seems to be split almost evenly down the middle. People either love it or hate it with no room in between. With its history stretching back close to 2,000 years, it’s safe to say the fruitcake debate is here to stay.

Grandma Adams’ Icebox Fruitcake
Liberty Hill Resident Bobbie Fuller Byerly reached into her family recipes to share her Icebox Fruitcake. An easy no-bake version of the traditional fruitcake.

“I am the food historian of the family. Each recipe comes from a loved one, and when I make these dishes, the memory of them comes to life,” said Byerly. “The recipes are the family history written by generations of great cooks.”
Byerly feels this is the perfect version of the fruitcake to share because of the simplicity and ease in making it.

“Crumble wafers finely, add in the rest and mix thoroughly, add more wafer crumbles if too sticky. Press into a buttered loaf pan and pack down tightly. Cover in foil and leave in the refrigerator for at least a day,” said Byerly. “I form it into a log on a piece of wax paper and roll it until it resembles a log. Then I just put it into the refrigerator and slice as needed.”

1 can condensed milk
1 lg package of Vanilla Wafers
½ box (8oz) raisins
2 tbsp rum or rum flavoring
1 tbsp vanilla

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