Welcome Downton Abbey fans. The countdown to Christmas is upon us when socializing switches into high gear. Why not start a new tradition and invite your friends for a relaxing afternoon tea?
I love to dish on Downton Abbey and other topical issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a recipe with history. You may find my Online Guide to Afternoon Tea helpful in understanding traditions and recipes to serve at your own tea party. Today‘s treat is fruitcake. Make it now to be ready to enjoy at your Christmas tea with friends and family.
My collection of recipes turned into Abbey Cooks Entertain, a book to share with fans of Downton Abbey and other period dramas. It is a labour of love which I hope will inspire you to become head cook in your own Abbey. Your comments have inspired me to share the best foods of that era which we still eat today, making adjustments to make them healthier, but just as tasty.
The book has lots of pictures of Downton era foods organized by specific types of entertaining in your own Abbey: brunch, afternoon tea, servants hall, garden parties, dinner parties, cocktails, and holidays. To order the ebook, click here. It is also available on Amazon in soft and hard copy.
Season Three has now ended in the UK, and we look forward to the Christmas episode and what might be in store for Season 4. I have been trying to behave by not give away too many spoilers, or passing along gossip, as Hugh Bonneville keeps reminding me you can’t believe everything you read.
- Associated Press has reported that Downton has been confirmed for Season 4.
Rumour has it that Dan Stevens won’t be returning for Season 4 now that he has moved to New York and enjoying his performance on Broadway. Not yet reported from a “reputable source”, so imagine this might be part of current contract negotiations.
The Rise and Fall of Fruitcake
Fruitcake can be traced back to the Middle Ages when dried fruits became more widely available in Europe, with regional variations evolving. Still, dried fruits were expensive to buy, and time consuming for home cooks to make themselves, so the tradition of making fruitcakes for special occasions such as weddings and holidays gained in popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Fast forward to today and fruitcakes have developed a notorious reputation as being the most re-gifted item at Christmas. Johnny Carson once quipped that there is only one fruitcake in the world which gets passed from person to person. This is likely a result of the introduction of mass produced cakes in the early 20th century which took all the love out of the process, and just a lack of knowledge as to how to make a great moist cake.
How to Make Great Fruitcake
To help you make a great fruitcake keep these tips in mind:
- The best fruitcake should mature for at least a month, two months is even better.
- Fruitcake should have square shoulders, sides and a slightly rounded top
- The top should be glossy and have a rich colour
- When cut, the cut should be clean, not crumbly
- The cake should have a delicious aroma and a rich flavour
- The cake should be moist but not soggy
- The fruit should be evenly distributed
- The corners should not be dry and the top should be evenly baked
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