Traditional 19th Century Fruitcake Recipe

This traditional 19th century fruitcake recipe is a rich and buttery spice cake with just enough fruit and citrus flavors to give it a festive taste. This version is quick to prepare and doesn't require weeks of preparation like some old-fashioned fruitcake recipes do. | Our Heritage of Health

This traditional 19th century fruitcake recipe is a rich and buttery spice cake with plenty of fruit and citrus to give it nice a festive flavor. And of course you can never go wrong with a generous drizzle of lemon-flavored icing too!

Fruitcake usually has a pretty bad reputation these days. It’s the gift nobody wants to receive, the dessert still left on the table after all of the others are gone. It’s often made fun of in holiday movies, and if someone thinks you’re acting a bit crazy, they just might call you a fruitcake.

Growing up, I had never heard anything positive about fruitcake, so I always assumed it must be a pretty disgusting dessert. Every picture I had ever seen of fruitcake looked like a solid blob of cake with bright red and green things stuck in it. Not exactly very appealing.

I had pretty much decided that I had no interest in ever trying fruitcake until I went to Old Sturbridge Village last winter at Christmas time. And yes, just like my change of opinion about chestnuts, Sturbridge Village completely changed the way I think about fruitcake, too.

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Old Hartford Election Cake

Old Hartford election day cake |

When looking through my old cookbooks and recipe pamphlets, I used to pass right by the recipes for Election Cake. Even though the cake sounded delicious, I had no idea how I could try a recipe that calls for several gills of yeast. That would be about a million of those little packets!

It was only in the past couple of weeks, though, that I realized that I could use a homemade sourdough starter as the yeast in all of my historic recipes.

Now that I finally have a source of homemade yeast, I just had to try making Election Cake, and it worked out perfectly that I made this yeast discovery just in time to make a cake for Election Day in November!

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How to Make Homemade Yeast

 How to make homemade yeast |


For a long time, I had been confused about the subject of yeast. The only yeast I knew about was the little packet of active dry yeast or rapid rise yeast that I would sprinkle into my dough. But then I started collecting 19th century cookbooks and found recipes that called for “one gill of fresh yeast” among the other ingredients.

Once I finally figured out what a gill was, though, (about a half a cup,) I was even more confused. I would have to use how many little instant yeast packets to equal a whole half a cup?!

After doing some more research on period cooking, though, I found several recipes for how to make homemade yeast that helped to solve the mystery a bit. Most involve the use of hops or potatoes added to boiling water and flour. The problem with all of those recipes, though, is that they all call for adding “a bit of good fresh yeast” to the mixture – which was exactly what I didn’t have!

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Autumn Harvest Stew

This autumn harvest stew recipe is the perfect way to use all of the vegetables that you harvest from your garden (or from a local farmer’s market) during the autumn season. This hearty and warming stew is perfect for the …

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Healthy “Fried” Apples

Healthy "fried" apples recipe |

I used to love to order fried apples as a side for my meal at restaurants. They were so delicious, so sweet and spicy, and even healthy too, right, since they were apples?


When I started eating real food, I realized just how unhealthy those fried apples actually were.

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Better than Breadcrumbs: Homemade Breading Recipe

 Homemade breading recipe for frying chicken


Up until about a year ago, I used to use store-bought breadcrumbs for breading chicken for chicken fingers. I thought I was doing something healthy since I was making the chicken myself rather than eating fast food chicken fingers that were fried in hydrogenated oils. That is, I thought it was healthy until I finally read through the ingredient list on the back of the breadcrumb container.

I was shocked.

The main part of the breadcrumbs was “enriched bread.” Ok, I thought, at least the first ingredient is bread, right? That’s got to be good, right? 

Wrong. This “enriched bread” is really made up of 9 ingredients, including the infamous high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The only real food ingredients among the 9 were wheat flour (which was probably processed and bleached) and water.

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