Christmas Cakes

The secret history of Christmas Cakes

Whether you love sweets or not, if there is one staple that is associated with Christmas, it is the Christmas cake. What started as mere fruit cakes have undergone drastic transformation down the line – the ingredients have changed, and so have the names. Let’s have a glance at the secret history of x-mas cakes.

Christmas cakes are eaten by devotees after a day of fasting to line their stomachs. When dried fruits, honey, and spices were added to this fruitcake, it came to be known as porridge.

Removal of oatmeal

In the sixteenth century, some modifications were made to the ingredients to make a boiled plum cake. The oatmeal was removed and butter, wheat flour, and eggs were added. These ingredients helped in making the mixture stay together. Marzipan, an almond sugar paste, was used by the wealthy families for the Easter cake. A similar cake was cooked by them for Christmas, by adding dry fruits and spices. These spices reflected the eastern connection. This phase led to the development of what we today called the Xmas cake”.

Scottish Christmas cake

Thanks to the Scottish Whiskey, this cake is also known as “Whiskey Dundee”. Yet, it isn’t an absolute must. You can also go for brandy or sherry, based on your preferences. What distinguishes a Scottish Christmas cake from other cakes is circles of blanched almonds on the surface of the cake. Besides, it also contains a fair amount of currants, raisins, and cherries.

Other types of cakes popular in Scotland –

  • Apple crème cake – As the name suggests, the core ingredient in this cake is apples. It also contains some other fruits, raisins, cream cheese, eggs, and whipped cream.
  • Mincemeat cake – This cake is often steamed as Christmas pudding. Traditionally, mincemeat was used as an ingredient. However, with changing times, vegetarian options have also become popular.

There is a constant tussle between the fans of both of these cakes claiming to be “the one”. The British marmalade, the first commercially available breakfast preserve also traces its origins to the town of Dundee. Thus, an authentic Scottish Christmas cake has a citrus tang to it.

Japanese Christmas cake

The celebration of Christmas in Japan began in the 16th century with the arrival of the Christian missionaries from Portugal. Yet, for several hundred years, it didn’t take the shape of a secularized and commercialized festival that we see today. When Maruzen, a Tokyo based bookstore, sold Christmas based goodies, it gave an impetus to the tradition.

After the Meiji restoration, the gates of Japan were opened to the western world, and there was an influx of western practices and festivities including Christmas. Fujiya started selling Christmas cakes through their shop in Ginza way back in 1922. Though western-styled desserts were considered a luxury at that time, they gained popularity by 1970s. The Japanese Merry Christmas cakes are so iconic that you will even find an emoji for them on your phone!

The ironic thing is that only about 1% of the Japanese population identifies as Christian. Christmas is indeed a secular holiday which people celebrate with their near and dear ones to mark the beginning of the new year.

The Japanese prefer a frosted sponge cake which contains strawberries, chocolates or any other seasonal fruit. Controversially, Japanese women over the age of 25 were called Christmas cakes because they went off-market just like the cakes. Now, the age has been shifted to 31 and is linked with tokishoki-shoba, a Japanese noodle dish.

The Japanese cake is highly symbolic. While the round shape symbolizes the other Japanese sweets, red is believed to repel evil spirits and white has a connection to rice. Moreover, red and white are the colours on the Japanese national flag as well, and their combination is considered auspicious. Strawberries symbolized economic advancements, post-World War II. Even though they have made their place in a lot of Japanese sweets, they are still majorly associated with Christmas cakes.

Philippines Christmas cake

The remnants of colonialism are still present in the culture of the Philippines. X-mas cakes are either traditional British fruitcakes or yellow pound cakes with nuts. What’s common between the two is that they are soaked in rum or brandy, and contain a palm sugar syrup.

The Christmas cakes at the Philippines are widely known for their long shelf life. They can even last as long as the next Easter or Christmas.

Wrapping up

Though X-mas cakes are by and large variations of the commonly known fruitcakes, they have a wide range of options right from hard and frosty to soft and levelled and unlevelled ones. We understand that making a Christmas cake from scratch at your place amidst the festivities can be challenging. Thus, we provide delicious Christmas cakes online at pocket-friendly prices. Check out the options today!

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