No-fuss fruitcake: for when you HAVE to go there

Warning: dates in the calendar are closer than they appear. Including December 25.

Which means you’re hard up against it if you haven’t made your fruitcake yet.

Wait a minute—you say you have no intention of making fruitcake? You don’t even LIKE fruitcake?

True confessions: Me neither. I find traditional fruitcake cloyingly sweet, uncomfortably heavy and, considering the array of ingredients, rather monotonously flavored. The main impression I get is bitter candied peel. Which, while oxymoronic (bitter candied?), tends towards the bitter—at least for me.

Then again, if you enjoy fruitcake, no doubt you’ve made it long since, and have spent the past 2 months lovingly brushing it with brandied syrup each week. So that, right about now, it’s reaching its fruitcake-y peak—

The Mt. Olympus of Masochism, for those of us on the other side of the fence.

OK, enough already with the fruitcake dissing. The following recipe is for those of you who want to be able to serve a fruitcake-like confection, but want something fast, easy, and NOT filled with citron and orange peel and green candied cherries.

This isn’t truly a fruitcake. It’s more a fruit quick bread. But it’s moist, packed with dried fruit, tastes good, and looks close enough to fruitcake that you can serve it on a dessert buffet and possibly fool fruitcake non-fans. Who might, in fact, be enticed to try it if you point out its non-fruitcake-like attributes.

If it’s this late in the season, and there’s not a fruitcake reaching its zenith of perfection in your pantry… or if you love fruitcake, have already made the traditional variety, and are interested in branching out… give this 90-Minute Fruitcake a try.

You might just surprise yourself and turn into a fruitcake apprecianado.

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I love our dried fruit blend—so tasty, and so handy, not having to buy all the fruits separately, then dice or chop. I use this in panettone, muffins, granola, anytime I want an assortment of dried fruits.

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We’ll start with butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

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Beat till smooth. Note the Beater Blade I’m using—it works well, but be sure not to use it on ice-cold, rock-hard butter; it’s not designed for the really tough stuff. Use your metal flat beater for that.

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Add the eggs…

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…and beat till smooth. The mixture will be fairly liquid.

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Add the flour, stirring to combine; beating the batter at this point will strengthen the gluten, which will toughen the cake.

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Now the batter is quite stiff.

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Add 1 small can pineapple, undrained.

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Next, the dried fruits of your choice. I’m using walnuts (or pecans or almonds; your choice); candied cherries (for that “real fruitcake” look and taste), snipped in half; plus the apricots, raisins, pineapple, dates, and cranberries in the bagged dried fruit blend.

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Mix it up…

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…and spoon it into a lightly greased 9” x 5” loaf pan. Sprinkle with coarse white sugar, if desired. I love the stuff; it’s an all-purpose looks-enhancer, plus adds subtle sweet crunch to whatever you sprinkle it on.

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This is a rather dense  bread, so you’ll need to bake it for about 75 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil for the final 15 minutes, so it doesn’t get too brown.

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It’s a bit delicate, so let it sit in the pan for 20 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool. And make sure it’s completely cool before slicing. See? Looks like fruitcake, eh? But really, it’s mild enough that anyone will enjoy it—even those who profess that the only thing you should sensibly do with a fruitcake is pass it along to the next person in line…

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for 90-Minute Fruitcake.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Vermont Country Store, Vermont-Made Fruitcake, with apricots, cashews, dates, raisins, and walnuts, $1.62/ounce

Bake at home: 90-Minute Fruitcake, with candied cherries, apricots, walnuts, dates, raisins, pineapple, and cranberries, 19¢/oz.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Teresa

    I love fruitcake — guess it’s because citron and orange peel don’t taste bitter to me, they taste wonderfully flavorful.

    But variations in tastebuds aside, I’m writing to say that I’m stealing your brilliant opening line immediately!!! Thank you!

    Teresa

    Teresa, gotta confess, I saw a variation on that opening line on a bumper sticker, so steal away – it’s not mine! An enjoy your fruitcake :) – PJH

    Reply
  2. Barbara

    This looks alot like the pineapple nut cake my mother used to make, with a few extra fruit bits for color. I miss that cake…

    Well, this is indeed based on a cake in an old community cookbook – bet it’s very similar to your mom’s. Enjoy, Barbara -PJH

    Reply
  3. Beth

    Thank you, PJ. I’m saved!! One of the kids was over a couple of days ago, saw a box in the fridge (isn’t it funny that even after they’ve left the homestead the first thing they do when they come back is stick their head in the fridge?), and almost yelled, “Is that fruitcake?” Confession time here: I used to buy the fruitcake from Gethsemani Monastery every year, and this kid has always been crazy over it. I usually make fruitcake cookies, but this sounds awfully good, especially with the crushed pineapple in it. The cheese ball may have to be delayed a day or two, so that I can get the fruitcake made. Merry Christmas, everyone at King Arthur Flour!!!

    Warning – this isn’t heavy/gooey/strong-flavored like fruitcake.It’s just a really nice, moist, fruit “bread.” That kinda looks like fruitcake. Glad one of your boys was visiting… ?? MERRY CHRISTMAS, and I hope the coming year is a GOOD one for you, Beth- PJH

    Reply
  4. Nancy

    We love fruited breads and this one looks wonderful. Could you give some idea of how many mini loaves this would make (3?) and how long the smaller loaves would take to bake?
    I’m also going to sub out good quality dried cherries for the candied as we just don’t care for those.
    Thanks!

    Nancy, for a mini loaf about 7″ x 3″, this would make 2, maybe 3 loaves? Fill the pans about 2/3 full. And bake for about 35 minutes at 350°F, then start testing, OK? Not sure about baking time, it totally depends on the size of your pans. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  5. Linda Workman

    Please let me know where you got the beater for this mixer and if it is compatible with Kitchinaid. Thanks

    I don’t usually make fruitcake – but I’ll try this one. Love your blogs.

    Hi Linda: check out our Beater Blades online. They make 3 different models for KitchenAid. Enjoy the fruitcake! – PJH

    Reply
  6. SarahB

    I was trying to decide on one more non-chocolate goodie to make for my annual cookie plates, and I’ve decided on this! I’ve never even had fruitcake before, but this really does look yummy.

    Reply
  7. mary h

    I made the fruitcake for Christmas, everyone really loved it. I have never been a fan of the ‘other’ fruitcake, but my mom used to make one that our family really liked. My mom has been ill so when I saw the recipe I burst into tears remembering her making her fruitcake.
    So, I tried your recipe because I like dried fruit and while it was baking my house smelled so good, I never had such a great smell before.
    Thanks!!!

    You’re welcome, Mary – glad it worked out well for you. And sorry about your mom… hope she regains her health soon. PJH

    Reply
  8. Pam R

    I had left over citron that I wanted to use up. This recipe worked great. I don’t care for traditional fruitcake, and this is so much better. If I do fruitcake for the holidays from now on this will be the recipe I use. I did substitute dry tart cherries for the maraschino cherries.

    Glad you liked it, Pam. It’s always nice to find a new favorite – PJH

    Reply
  9. Jim Phillips

    Last year I used an old fruitcake recipe from the Ft Worth Star Telegram and it’s to my liking. The ingredients aren’t available year round so I stocked up on them last holiday season. I was buying the 4 lb. 14 oz. size from Collins St. Bakery in Corsicana, TX and have visited their bakery a couple of times. Several years ago their prices rose to a level I couldn’t afford. I decided I could make my own.

    Every since I can remember there has been fruitcake in my kitchen and I’ve snacked on it all year ’round. I saw your dried fruit blend fruitcake mix and ordered it. I baked it about a month ago and after several brushings of Amaretta and rest periods in between I cut into it. I found it to be more of a fruited bread than I’m used to but it was very good and it didn’t last very long. It was well worth a try though.

    Reply
  10. Joanne

    If I dice the fruit, can this batter be used in mini muffin tins?

    Don’t see why not, Joanne – just keep checking as they bake, because they’d obviously only bake for a short amount of time… PJH

    Reply
  11. Marian

    In an order you sent a recipe card for Mini Panettone and I can’t find it on your website to comment on! I made it yesterday and now it’s all gone. Great stuff! How come it’s not on your website? I used a mixer with a dough hook and put it in 12 muffin cups. I may make it again this weekend. I’d like to use the dough for a coffeecake. Possible?

    Right here, Marian – American-Style Panettone, with directions for making minis. You could use this versatile dough for any kind of sweet incarnation you’d like, I’d guess – go for it! PJH

    Reply
  12. davesara5

    I checked the link for the Beater Blade for KitchenAid Tilt-Head Mixer: I am looking for a beater/scraper blade for a KitchenAid fixed-head mixer. Does KAF sell such an item?
    Sorry, we haven’t carried the scraper/beaters for about 3 years now. Thanks for checking. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  13. Kathy

    I’m traveling for the holidays and need to bake these before I leave town. How long will the fruit cake keep at room temperature if wrapped in plastic?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Pretty indefinite, as it’s so moist, Kathy – wrap it tightly, in several layers, and I’d say several weeks at least. Safe travels – PJH

  14. nichael

    Hmmm… Over on the recipe page for this, they suggest trying this in the new “mini-bundt” pan.

    Sounds like a great idea, but that got me to wondering… What would the be like in the mini-doughnut pans?

    Hmmm…..

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I don’t see why that pan wouldn’t work. They will just have a different shape! Jon@KAF

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