In the 1920s, women’s organizations provided the opportunity for rural farm women to participate in local political, educational, civic, and social events. One such group from Etowah County, Alabama got together to make Christmas fruitcakes. Their idea was so popular that twelve other clubs followed suit.
At their October meeting last year (1925), the members of the Glancoe Home Demonstration Club decided to make a real festivity of their Christmas fruit cakes. These were made at their November meeting. The women planned in advance and each brought the ingredients assigned her. In all ten cakes were made and all had a right good time making them. Twelve other clubs in the County followed this same plan, and Etowah County had a real Fruit Cake Christmas.The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women
In the spirit of Christmas, I held my own Home Demonstration Club meeting and made fruitcakes for the very first time. The recipe I chose to use was one that my mother always used. She received the recipe from a neighbor in the early 1960s. With a little research, I learned that Old-Time Fruit Cake was a Betty Crocker recipe published sometime between 1955 and 1965. Below is a magazine insert in which the recipe was intended to be cut out and added to a homemaker’s recipe binder:
Further research showed that over the years Old-Time Fruit Cake morphed into Old-Fashioned Fruitcake by the 1980s. The difference is that the newer version suggests baking the fruitcakes 3 or 4 weeks in advance and soaking them in wine or brandy and aging them in the refrigerator. I chose to soak mine in orange juice and age for one week. The fruitcakes turned out moist and delicious! (Recipe below.)
Out of curiosity, I researched some old newspapers to see what the prices might have been for the ingredients needed for Christmas baking and candy making. Here is what I found:
Happy Christmas Baking!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1-1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup molasses or dark corn syrup
- 1 cup orange juice
- 15 oz golden raisins (about 3 cups)
- 8 oz pitted dates, cut into halves (1-1/2 cups)
- 5 oz whole red or green candied cherries (3/4 cup)
- 5 oz candied pineapple, cut up (about 1 cup)
- 8 oz whole Brazil nuts or pecan halves (1-2/3 cup)
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line two loaf pans with parchment and grease well; set aside.
- Prepare fruits and nuts and dust the date and raisins with a tablespoon of flour (helps to keep them from sinking to the bottom while baking); set aside
- Combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, blend together sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, and molasses or corn syrup with an electric mixer until well combined.
- Mix in dry ingredients alternately with orange juice, beginning and ending with flour.
- Fold in prepared fruits and nuts. Spread into loaf pans.
- Bake at 275 degrees for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool fruitcakes in pans for 10 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks; cool completely.
- Soak cheesecloths with wine or brandy, wrap around fruitcakes, then wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 weeks. Cheesecloths may be resoaked from time to time if desired.
*Alternately cheesecloths may be soaked in orange juice then wrapped around fruitcakes and refrigerated.
Recipe Compliments of Betty Crocker and farmerswifemagazine.com