Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fruitcakes

Yesterday I decided to make a fruitcake, and duly put in the dried fruit to soak in tea last night, but then I got thinking about the history of this substantial food. Fruitcake and a slice of cheese by the way are excellent fodder when walking for a long time and one gets physically weak from hunger and the nearest shop or pub is miles away......

First of all pound cakes this seems to come from America but must have surely been exported when a lot of British people emigrated in the 18th century. Probably there was no such things as proper scales so the logical thing to do was to take eight eggs, which weigh about a pound, then weigh equal measurements of flour, butter and sugar, and dried fruit got added to the mix when you had some. There is a history here of the fruitcake, which seems to have started in Roman times with different ingredients.

Susan Hartley's book Food in England gets consulted but not much on fruitcakes, though I notice you can make 'snow' pancakes. Make the batter, then go outside take a spoonful of snow put it into the batter, then fry swiftly before the snow entirely melts, leaving holes in the pancakes!

Crempog or Welsh pancakes;

half a pound of flour, piece of butter the size of a walnut rubbed in, buttermilk to mix (you can add a few drops of vinegar if there is no buttermilk to be found), beat one egg, add it, then leave to stand for one hour. Before frying add half a teaspoon of bicarb. of soda. Sounds like those funny batter things you can make quickly if you have no cakes in the house for unexpected visitors, top with butter that will melt on the hot cake and sprinkle with icing sugar - delicious.

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