Celebrate the Holidays With Christmas Cake Recipes

Date walnut cake, fruitcake and old-fashioned chocolate sour cream cake are just a few special Christmas cake recipes for the holiday season.

  • Christmas Cake Recipes
    Add a handful of black walnuts to top off Grandma Dobbs’ Date Cake.
    Photo By Lori Dunn
  • Fruit And Nut Cake Recipe
    Bake a holiday favorite this season, Wall-to-Wall Fruit and Nut Cake.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Lauri; Paterson
  • Date Cake
    Dates are a wonderful holiday treat.
    Photo By Erich Lehner

  • Christmas Cake Recipes
  • Fruit And Nut Cake Recipe
  • Date Cake

The Christmas holiday season lends itself to all sorts of delicious sweets, and many recipes make an appearance only once a year. Maybe that explains why most cakes we enjoy during the holidays have such decadent ingredients: dates, lots of nuts and candied fruits.

History generally reports the ubiquitous fruitcake appeared in the Middle Ages in England, when the ingredients were exotic, expensive and difficult to find. So the treat was saved as a once-a-year extravagance. At that time, alcohol was used both as a flavoring and as a preservative; today, this ingredient isn’t necessary and is often omitted.

The baking process during this era also was arduous; a lot of preparation and hard work were necessary. Fruits were washed, dried, and the stone was removed. Sugar — which at that time was found in loaves or blocks — was cut, pounded and strained. Butter — again, nothing like our modern sticks — was washed and rinsed in rosewater. Recipes often called for a cook to beat the eggs for at least 30 minutes. Yeast was temperamental in those days and took some coaxing to do its work. Then, of course, there were the wood-burning ovens to be managed. All in all, baking was a full day’s work.

Another factor in the special nature of fruitcake is the fact that it is often — and it really should be — prepared far in advance of the holiday. The flavors blend and age, making each slice a rich, colorful treat worthy of a special holiday celebration.

Dried and fresh dates also are among the exotic ingredients generally available during the holidays. While not part of the ingredient list for fruitcake, dates are often combined with walnuts to create a delicious confection.

The beautiful date palm is found in desert regions; it likes the heat while its roots appreciate the wet conditions of an oasis. Believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, the tree can be found in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, northern Africa, India, southern Italy, Sicily and Greece. The plant is part of the national emblem of Saudi Arabia, representing vitality and growth, and fresh dates are an expected part of traditional Arabian hospitality, served with a small cup of Arabian coffee.

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