FRUITCAKE?! Yes, fruitcake – get over it. This is GOOD fruitcake.

We’ve all heard the never-ending array of holiday fruitcake jokes, right?

The famous Johnny Carson line: “There really is only one fruitcake in the world, passed from family to family.”

And the recipe that starts like this: “10 undented cans of Spam, 5 bags of those horrible little jellied fruits…”

And this ditty, sung to the tune of The Monkees’ Last Train to Clarksville:

Eat the last piece of fruitcake
that we got from Auntie Mabel
We can’t keep it in the kitchen
‘cause it broke right through the table and the floor
Oh no no no, oh no no no…

But honestly, there are those who love fruitcake. Pretty much any fruitcake – dark, light, filled with green cherries and candied peel, or red cherries and pecans, or…

The “I love fruitcake” crowd isn’t generally overly picky about ingredients, so long as they can take their stand in favor of this much-maligned holiday treat.

And then there’s the middle ground, the blue-dog Democrats of American fruitcake society. We enjoy a certain kind of fruitcake – light-colored, no bitter candied peel, no gluey candied fruits, not overly spiced. More a fruit cake than a fruitcake, if you get my drift.

I’m in this “fruitcake is OK” crowd. I’ll enjoy a slice – and probably just that, one slice – at Christmas. But it has to be moist, and it has to be mild, tasting more of fruit than spice.

The following cake fits this description to a T.

Filled with pecans, my favorite dried fruits, plus toasted coconut and banana; and with NO spices at all, save salt, it takes its flavor from the fruits themselves.

Which is just fine with me. And my husband, a long-standing fruitcake lover and absolute traditionalist, who nonetheless devoured two loaves of this maverick tropical version on our recent vacation.

Willing to chance a new fruitcake recipe? One that doesn’t call for 10 cans of Spam? Here we go –

 

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These bake & give pans are a neat little item. Made from heavy coated paper, they’re completely bakeable; use just as you would a metal pan. The difference is, you can give someone a baked treat without worrying about getting your pan back afterwards. We sell all kinds of different sizes and shapes; take a look at our favorite holiday bake & give pans.

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Coconut lovers, rejoice! 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of this extra-strong flavor punches up the taste of anything coconut.

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As does this coconut milk powder, a tasty substitute for canned coconut milk. Never mind opening a whole can of milk when all you need is 1/3 cup; use this handy milk powder instead.

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And what fruitcake is complete without candied red cherries? Not green ones – ewwwww! But these sticky red nuggets offer signature fruitcake texture, maraschino cherry taste, and a very pretty look.

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And talk about juicy! Unlike the candied cherries you might buy at the supermarket, these are nice and moist. Look at all the syrup in the bottom of the tub – feel free to stir it into your next Shirley Temple.

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Next up in our ingredient review: dried pineapple nuggets.  Why not just use fresh pineapple? Because it’s awfully juicy, and your fruitcake is moist anyway; fresh pineapple tends to push it over the edge into soggy.

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OK, let’s get started. The night before, combine 3 cups (16 ounces) dried pineapple nuggets and 3/4 cup rum, apple juice, or water in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup.

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Cover with plastic wrap, and heat till the liquid starts to form tiny bubbles, 2 to 3 minutes; see those little bubbles around the edge?

Remove from the microwave, and let rest overnight, covered.

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Next, we’re going to toast coconut. You can skip this step and buy toasted coconut, but it’s not hard to make your own. You just have to be watchful.

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Put 2 cups (about 5 ounces) sweetened coconut in an ungreased 9” x 13” pan. Bake in a preheated 300°F oven for about 13 to 15 minutes, stirring several times. The coconut won’t do anything for awhile, then will brown quite quickly; this is the “watchful” part.

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Stir it around so the edges don’t get overly brown.

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And here it is, nicely toasted.

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Here’s the pineapple, after its overnight rest; notice how it’s absorbed the liquid and become syrupy.

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Fresh banana adds just the right degree of moistness to your cake. You want 1/2 cup mashed banana; 1 medium-large banana should do it. And the riper the banana, the stronger the flavor; this is a perfect use for your dark-brown, last-one-in-the-fruit bowl, very overripe banana.

Two more preliminary steps: Preheat your oven to 300°F. Pick the loaf pans of your choice: two 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pans OR five 7” wooden bakers OR six 7” paper bake & give pans. Or a combination.

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At last – we’re ready to get baking. Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup apricot jam or orange marmalade
1 ripe medium banana, peeled and mashed; about 1/2 cup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coconut flavor, optional

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Mix to combine.

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Beat in 5 large eggs, one at a time.

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The batter will become quite creamy, though not entirely smooth; it may look a bit curdled, which is OK.

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Whisk together 3/4 cup coconut milk powder and 3 3/4 cups (15 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

Want to omit the coconut milk powder? I didn’t try this recipe without, but Sue, our test kitchen director, says it should be fine to just leave it out without making any flour adjustment. Can you substitute canned coconut milk? No, not really; it would add too much liquid. Though you can certainly substitute canned coconut milk for the regular milk, which makes its appearance next.

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Gently beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, a portion at a time…

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…alternately with 1/2 cup milk. Or coconut milk.

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NOW you’ve got a nice, creamy batter.

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Here comes the yummy part: the pineapple, coconut, and 2 cups pecan halves.

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Stir it all in.

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For ease of use, I like to put all my pans on a baking sheet. I’ve lined the baking sheet with parchment, in case of spills; but this is a thick batter, and it shouldn’t overflow.

Here I’ve selected one 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan; and three 7” paper bake & give pans.

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Grease with non-stick vegetable oil spray; EverBake is our test kitchen favorite.

Psssst: If you’ve been reading this blog forever, and have watched me using EverBake forever, and haven’t yet grabbed yourself a can – what’s the holdup?  All of us in the King Arthur test kitchen love it. And it won’t darken on your pans, like so many do.

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A scale helps in dividing the batter evenly among the pans. The small (7”) paper pans will take about 430g batter (a generous 15 ounces). An 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” pan will take about 1290g (2 pounds, 13 1/2 ounces).

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Plop candied cherries down the center of each loaf, like buttons on a snowman. You’ll need 22 to 30 cherries, about 4 to 5 ounces.

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Almost ready to go into the oven… but not quite.

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Sprinkle the top of each loaf with coarse sugar. While this step isn’t traditional for fruitcake (nor is it necessary; don’t get hung up here), it lends a pretty touch. I’ve used Swedish pearl sugar on this loaf. And I tried coarse white sparkling sugar on another.  Two of the loaves I left plain.

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Place the pan in the preheated 300°F oven. See why putting all the loaf pans on a baking sheet makes sense?

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Bake till done. This will take about 60 minutes for the smaller cakes; and about 90 to 95 minutes for the larger cake. When done, the cakes will be a light golden brown all over.

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A paring knife inserted into the center will come out clean. This isn’t clean.

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This is.

Be sure to give the cakes enough time. The temperature at the center will be about 200°F. The very center on top may still look a bit undone; that’s OK.

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Remove from the oven, and allow the cakes to cool a bit while you ready the glaze. If you’ve used metal pans, turn the cakes out; the cakes in the paper pans can remain in their pans.

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For the glaze, combine 1 cup sugar syrup or simple syrup with 2 to 4 tablespoons rum, brandy, or the liqueur of your choice (coconut?). The alcohol is optional; if you eschew strong beverages, just stick to simple syrup, flavored with vanilla or another extract if you like.

To make your own simple syrup, bring equal parts (by volume) granulated sugar and water to a boil; simmer for 3 minutes, remove from the heat, and cool to room temperature. Or you can purchase simple syrup. Or vanilla syrup. Or ginger syrup (oo-la-la!)

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Brush the top of the warm cakes with the glaze, letting it drip down the sides. Don’t use it all up; two coats is good to start. Reserve the rest in a covered jar.

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Now doesn’t that look deluxe?

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The cakes with sugar on top take the glaze, too. It’s all good.

When completely cooled, wrap the cakes well in plastic; the ones in the paper pans can remain in their pans. Let rest at least 24 hours before serving.

Store well-wrapped cakes for up to 6 to 7 weeks, brushing with additional glaze every week or so. Each time you brush the cakes, you’ll use about half as much glaze as you did the first time; the cakes will take on a pleasantly dense moistness.

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I baked this cake the last week in August. I gave it to my husband to take on vacation the middle of October; I’d remembered to brush it with glaze probably four times total. He declared it my best fruitcake ever… though he says that every year. (Yes, he’s learned what I need to hear!) But I can attest it was nice and moist, even after 7 weeks. And very flavorful.

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At last! All dressed up and ready to go under someone’s tree. Preferably someone who likes fruitcake – or is at least willing to give it a try. We don’t want THIS fruitcake to become the butt of any bad jokes!

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Taste of the Tropics Fruit Cake.

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. Sarah

    But my question is, does anyone know where there’s a stigma against fruitcake in the United States? I’m in the UK right now and it’s EVERYWHERE (and always delicious). This sounds like a fantastic version – thanks!

    Maybe because there’s some TRULY awful fruitcake available here in the U.S.? Sale, using inferior ingredients, gluey texture… English fruitcake is the REAL DEAL. Hope you enjoy this off-the-wall version. PJH

    Reply
    1. Denver Todd

      Simple answer: the most common fruitcakes have candied fruit and people hate it but the commercial versions always have it.

  2. Jackie Julty

    Wow! This looks like the kind of anti- fruitcake that I would be willing to eat. When I was a kid, my mother and some of her older relatives used to make this really heavy fruitcake with all kinds of fruit and heavy with rum as well, which literally weighed a ton- and which my brother and I used to try to avoid eating. As that I don’t like bananas, could I substitute apple sauce or leave it out?

    Absolutely, Jackie, substitute applesauce – sounds like a plan. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  3. Christina

    I gotta tell ya, I’m not a fruitcake fan… but if this one showed up on our doorstep, I’d probably gobble it down in a heartbeat and I know I’d be fighting my children for last bites.

    Our family has been warped, sadly, by a certain famous fruitcake baked here in Texas. It’s dry, crumbly, and always tastes of chemicals (at least to me). :( I think it may be time to turn the icky tradition into this far better tasting one.

    Thanks for showing us such a wonderful alternative!

    Reply
  4. Colin

    1290 grams is _2_ pounds, 13.5 oz, isn’t it?
    Looks like a fun recipe–maybe fruitcake is in the cards for us.

    You’re right, Colin – my bad. I’ve corrected that to 2 pounds, 13 1/2 ounces. Thanks for letting us know – PJH

    Reply
  5. CJ

    I wonder if there is a way to make this without rum. Even after baking for 40 minutes, there can be 30% of the alcohol left in the finished product. There must be a subsitution for those of us who can’t have alcohol.
    You may use water or an infused simple syrup to soak the fruit. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  6. Janene

    This type of fruit cake I would be willing to eat. The last time I ate a piece of a store bought fruitcake it was nothing short of vile! I only ate it to make my Grandma happy, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Although I’m not sure why she thought it was edible… hmm.

    This recipe is definitely worth trying!

    Reply
  7. Ian

    For those who are coconut milk powder–bereft, I wonder if you could substitute liquid coconut milk in place of the regular milk? That would keep it from being too wet, and give it more delicious coconut taste.

    Sure, Ian – great idea. I’m sure that would work out just fine – PJH

    Reply
  8. Erie

    hi,

    It looks lovely and tasty. Maybe someone can look over the whole page again as I have seen a few typos.

    Thanks, I will – the recipe, or the blog? (Can you tell we’re going about 120 mph here today?!) – PJH

    Reply
  9. Lisa

    So when storing for several weeks, do the cakes need to be refrigerated, or can they be left out?

    Leave them right out on the counter, Lisa – cool room temperature is fine. PJH

    Reply
  10. Sugar Duchess

    This looks so delicious! I had only ever tried store-bought fruitcake (which is nasty, so naturally I grew up hating fruitcake) until a few years ago when my husband convinced me to try making a homemade fruitcake. Voila! What a big difference, when you can have more control over the flavor and texture! Now it’s a tradition of ours to make fruitcake over Halloween weekend, and eat it on Christmas day. Thanks for the reminder!

    Ah, just in time recipes – love it! PJH

    Reply
  11. Heidi

    This looks fabulous – but I’m not able to eat bananas. Is there a substitute for the bananas that would work? Applesauce maybe or would that have too much moisture?

    Applesauce would be the perfect substitute, Heidi – go for it, and enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  12. Erie

    Hi PJ,

    I only looked at the blog. And yes they look like the kind of typos you get when you go too fast. I will try this recipe soon but first another batch of the pumpkin/cranberry muffins. There is a Halloween party tomorrow where they sure will be gone quick. Although I once did too many things myself and made them without the baking powder and the baking soda. They were edible but oh so flat, of course the half hour on the counter did nothing in that case!

    Hey, those little white powders are important, huh? But so easy to forget about… I skimmed the blog for misspelled words (indicated with red underlining), but didn’t see any. So tomorrow I’ll need to read it slooowwwwwwly to find those typos. Gotta go from 78rpm to 33 1/3 – a challenge for sure at this time of the year! Thanks, Erie- PJH

    OK, I think I found them all… Thanks again, Erie. PJH

    Reply
  13. Monica H

    I’ve never been compelled to make fruit cake until now :-)

    A couple questions for you:

    Can I use extract in place of the LorAnn oils? how much?
    Can I freeze these? If so then do I still need to brush them with syrup?
    Can I incorporate the candied cherries into the batter instead of on top?
    And lastly, can I use powdered milk in place of the coconut powder?

    Thanks so much, my grandmother will love this!

    Hi Monica –

    1) You’d probably want to use 2 teaspoons of an extract – add 1 teaspoon first, taste, then increase, if you like. A lot depends on the extract – for instance, you’d use less almond than vanilla.
    2) Yes, brush with syrup, then freeze. Though if you brush them regularly with syrup, they just get better and better at room temperature. Freezing will inevitably dry them out, so try not to freeze for too long, OK?
    3) Sure, throw the cherries right into the batter if you like – you might want to chop them in half if you’re making smaller cakes.
    4) Just leave out the coconut powder – don’t need to substitute powdered milk.

    Hope your grandmother has a very happy, fruitcake-filled holiday! PJH

    Reply
  14. Kimberly D

    How about added white chocolate chips to it and sprinkle with crystal ginger? I love pineapple and coconut, so I would and will try this fruitcake. I like how you give the liquid syrup choice for those who don’t use rum.

    All good, Kimberly. This recipe is totally open to each of our own personal interpretations, for sure… PJH

    Reply
  15. Kat DeFonce

    I am a lover of homemade fruitcake and make it every year as part of my “trays” of homemade goodies that I give every year for Christmas. (Actually, these trays are about the size of extra large turkey platters!) Everyone loves them. The last two times, I made one of your other fruitcakes which was devoured by all with rave accolades. But, I like to change up my trays every now and then so as not to let anyone get bored. This fruitcake sounds absolutely wonderful! I will have to try this one to compare. I do have one question though. How about using dried apricots and increasding the alcohol a bit and soaking it with the pineapple? Would that work?

    That would work for me, Kat – apricots are my favorite dried fruit. YUM! PJH

    Reply
  16. Gigi

    Wow, this cake looks fabulous!!
    I want to tell you that I am so happy you listed a measurement for the bananas…I am always frustrated when a recipe lists “2 bananas” in the ingredients, since bananas vary in size.
    Thank you for being so thorough! Being a bit of a control freak, I enjoy having step-by-step instructions (with pics)…which is why I love your blog!

    I’m a bit the same way, Gigi – what I REALLY hate is “salt to taste” – for something like soup or sauce that requires, like, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Could you just give me a clue here?!! PJH

    Reply
  17. Natalia Rivera

    Thank you for the recipe! It looks like something I’d eat and gift onto others without feeling embarrassed.

    Sorry for the off-topic question, but I don’t know where else to ask. When toasting coconut in the oven, whenever I open the door to stir it around, the fumes coming out smell nice but has this weird effect of feeling like I got hit with pepper spray in my eyes. It’s not oven cleaner or anything else, and has happened with different ovens too. Any of your bakers get that effect?

    Natalia, we’ve never noticed that – that I know of. My fellow baker, Sue, was toasting coconut yesterday, and we were all peering at it as she opened the oven door. Maybe it’s the brand of coconut you use? Or – have you noticed that your eyes are particularly sensitive? There doesn’t seem like there’d be anything in coconut that would be irritating (unlike, say, red pepper). Readers – any thoughts? PJH

    Reply
  18. vitamins

    I have read the whole information regarding the fruitcake.I like this post as it contain various snaps and recipe to make fruit cake which smell yummy and tasty.

    Reply
  19. Trisha

    My problem with making fruitcake is that, last year I felt I had to taste it each week, to see how it was coming along. By Christmas there was only one small loaf left and I was 10 lbs heavier. It was delicious!

    Trisha, thanks for getting my day started with a good laugh. This year – STEP AWAY FROM THE FRUITCAKE. :) PJH

    Reply
  20. Alissa

    For Natalia
    I usually use stainless steel pans but on the few occasions that I’ve used one of those coated non-stick pans, for the first few times it smells horrible as it bakes off that factory finish. This may be what you are smelling. Stainless steel and parchment paper are the way to go.

    Great post as always, PJ!

    Reply
  21. cindy leigh

    Hi PJ,
    question on the freshness. I’v made regular fruitcakes wrappped in rum-soaked gauze, where you just keep basting with rum. But if you are using a simple syrup to baste this, without alcohol, what keeps the loaf from getting moldy or going bad?

    I like fruitcake- my own! Not the nasty store bought kind. Mine uses my grandmother’s recipe for boiled raisin cake as the base, and nuts, diced dried apricots, maraschino cherries, dates, sultanas, currents, etc. Dried flavored cranberries (orange and/or cherry flavor) are good too. It has the typical cinnamon, cloves, allspice, mace, nutmeg in it, but not overpowering. I used that boiled raisin cake recipe (raisins, currents, dates, nuts) to make my own wedding cake- 10 layers! (I paid the decorator- I have no skill there) My grandparents were gone by then, but boy, she was right there with me in the kitchen when I baked that, and right next to me when we cut the first slice!

    The sugar itself is a preservative, Cindy. Witness candy – how it doesn’t mold. Your fruitcake recipe sounds like the really delicious old-fashioned kind. And what a nice story about your grandmother – thanks for sharing. PJH

    Reply
  22. PJ

    My favorite method begins on Halloween with putting all of the fruit, coconut, sugar, and spices into a large saucepan, barely cover with strong coffee or a coffee /expresso combination. Just bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes, remove from the heat, cover, and let the mixture sit overnight. (This method replaces the liquid of most recipes.) The next morning I mix in some egg, a small amount of baking soda, and enough flour to form a cake like batter. Then divide up, and bake until done. After removing the cakes from the pans and cooling them, a small amount of rum is poured onto the top. (I use about a tablespoon for large loafs, and a teaspoon for small loafs.) Then I individually wrap the loaves tightly in plastic wrap, followed by foil. Once a week I add more rum to the top, and rewrap the loaves. They are given away during the week before Christmas. I had never tried your suggestion about the coconut powder, but I am going to pick up some today because it sounds so delicious.

    Reply
  23. Kathy

    I’ve tried fruitcake maybe once in my life, and I think part of the reason is that it always appears to be overwhelmingly sticky-sweet, to the detriment of any flavor complexity. I’m game to try a homemade loaf and even take a shot at making my own, so this recipe is a good candidate.

    However, I have to ask… exactly how sweet does the fruitcake become after a few simple syrup bastings and a possible large-granule sugar dusting? I mean, we’re already starting with two sugars, jam, and banana. That amount of sugar already seems like enough to me. I understand that, at the holidays, sugar (and fat) take center stage in baking and cooking; it’s a festive time, and people have always put those ingredients at the center of festive eating. So I know that small servings of such treats is de rigeur, and a cup of black coffee alongside is a great accompaniment. But really, how sweet does fruitcake need to be? Could one of you fine KAF bakers comment on how sweet the finished product tasted to you?

    Thanks for your answer, and thanks for all you do!

    Reply
  24. Deb in MN

    Wow! I think this is a fruitcake I could actually eat. I had a rather closed mind as I started to read, but the list of ingredients looks pretty yummy. My grandma was the fruitcake maker in our family. It had lots of weird colored fruits and a ton of currents/raisins. I always ate a little tiny piece if I absolutely had too. I think some people actually liked it. ( The grown-up only cakes were soaked in brandy for a few months so maybe that helped). Every year since Grandma passed away, my mom always asks if we should make “Grandma’s Fruitcake” and so far I’ve managed to avoid it-maybe this year I will suggest this recipe instead.

    I do absolutely love the little paper pans. I like to take quick breads to work with me and these would be very handy!

    Reply
  25. Pupa

    Dear friend.. where can i store them for one or two months? i live out the USA, in a city that is always summer(9 months) and we have temp from 90 to 110 F for 9 months, it means here is too hot, it will be ok if i put them in the refrigerator? thank you very much.. Pupa from Mexico Storing them in the refrigerator would be fine. I would still brush them with syrup every once in a while. Have fun with it. Mary@ KAF

    Reply
  26. Twitch

    I like fruitcake, but for cryin out loud, can you PLEASE wait until Halloween is over before starting the endless slog of Christmas? Gee, maybe even wait til Thanksgiving is over? How about one holiday at a time? I hear your frustration, Twitch, but, unfortunately, fruitcake is one of those things which is better if it ages for several weeks, so it is best to start it early. Mary@ KAF

    I’m with Mary here – once I read a recipe, it takes me a week or so to marshal my ingredients, think about it, find the time… and since fruitcake is best 6 or 7 weeks after it’s made (my opinion), this recipe was deliberately posted now, to give everyone the time they might need. Never fear, after a gingerbread house this weekend, next week we’ll be back to normal with chocolate-cherry brioche and sourdough pizza crust…. then buttery pull-apart rolls, chocolate chip pie, Double-Shot Mocha Chunks… so come on back, autumn’s still in the air! PJH

    Reply
  27. Andy C., Ohio

    This sounds yummy! I might even get my DH to try it, HAHA. I have one question, however; I love the taste of coconut, so the flavoring and milk powder are fine, but can’t eat the real coconut anymore. Can you think of anything I could replace it with? Dried apricots or cranberries?

    I get sooo many good ideas and recipes from this blog! Thanks to everyone at KAF; keep it up! Andy C Sure, you could add dried cranberries or apricots instead of the coconut.They would be a tasty addition. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  28. Royce Robertson

    Thanks KA Bakers and Creators. I love fruitcake but have never made one. Have also eaten some horrid ones. Think I might be brave enough to try your recipe since it looks so wonderful. Like all of your readers, I love your blog and appreciate the photos. Happy Holidays to you all.

    And to you, Royce – PJH

    Reply
  29. Liz from Ocean County

    This sounds like a fruitcake I might actually like. My problem with fruitcake is that I could never stand citron and candied peel. I can’t even take finely grated zest in anything which is why I thought I’d hit the lottery when I discovered citrus oils – now I can add the essence of the zest without that peel.

    I love reading all the blog comments for ideas on how to change the recipes for things like allergies and personal preferences. Just reading all your comments gives me a ton of great ideas.Isn’t it great how we can all learn from each other! Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  30. Sue E. Conrad

    Hi, P.J.!

    Ah, yes, the (mostly) dreaded fruitcake!!! Lucky me, I grew up enjoying my mother’s delicious steamed suet pudding – molasses, suet (she’d buy it all ground up from the meat market), raisins, currants, citron, milk, flour, baking soda, salt, lemon extract, ground cinnamon and cloves. All ingredients were mixed together, poured into special covered containers and steamed for three hours. She’d make them weeks before Christmas and give them as gifts to friends, neighbors, even the postman!!! Just like her homemade hot cross buns at Easter, everyone looked forward to these puddings. The “icing on the cake”, so to speak, was hard sauce which consists of butter, confectioners’ sugar, and flavoring. No rum, brandy, etc. was added or applied to the pudding. The recipe has survived over the years, and my sister, sister-in-law, and I all have copies (I’m truly fortunate in that my copy is in my mother’s handwriting).Don’t you just love coming across a recipe in your files in the handwritting of someone you love. I know I do. Mary @ KAF

    Happy baking to all at KAF!!!

    And happy baking to you, Sue – bet you’re looking forward to fruitcake season! PJH

    Reply
  31. Jackie

    Hi there,
    I love this site. Great recipes. I have a similar recipe for a cherry fruitcake that uses maraschino cherries and candied pineapple. One question about weight. If 430g is 15 oz, how can 1290 be 13.5oz?? Aren’t there approximately 28 grams in an ounce? Another question, do you ship to B.C.? Hope so and thanks for the great banter.

    I think you misread that, Jackie = 1290g is 2 lb., 13.5 oz. Make more sense? I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know about shipping to Canada – but please call our customer service ladies, they can help – 800.827-6836. Thanks – PJH

    Reply
  32. Lee

    for Natalia and the coconut – most commercially available packaged coconut has propylene glycol added to it. Among other uses it is also an antifreeze and deoderant stick ingredient. Potential side effects listed on Wikipedia include mild eye irritation, burning and pain. I just crack my own fresh coconuts and shave those up, and keep them in the freezer. A few minutes in the oven and they taste like toasted marshmallows and don’t hurt my eyes!
    As PJ said when we open our oven door we do not notice the problem Natalia experienced. This may be because the coconut we use does not contain propylene glycol. So you can crack your own cocconut or use ours. Any time you would like to check our ingredient list it is posted on our web site under each item. Joan @bakerscatalogue

    Reply
  33. Anne

    I think you may be on to something here. I grew up hating fruitcake because of a sort of raw alcohol/brandy taste that made it taste medicinal to me. I suspect that’s true of a lot of kids. And then the cakes had rum or brandy poured over them several times between October and Christmas. It didn’t help with the dryness and only added to the medicinal taste–plus the nuts got dryer and dryer along with the cake itself.

    By adding only enough rum to flavor the cake, and then moistening it periodically with plain syrup, you don’t run into the problem. I’m going to make this one, and I’ll bet people will enjoy it.

    Hope this changes your idea of what fruitcake is all about, Anne – :) PJH

    Reply
  34. Sue

    I can identify with so many of the comments written by other readers. I’m one of the people who doesn’t even try it anymore when it’s offered and has never bothered to make it, but I must admit that PJ’s “off the wall” version could change my mind about it.

    Reply
  35. Cindy Sue

    Very few people in my family like coconut. Does anyone have any suggestions for what could be substituted for the coconut flavor, flakes and powder?? You can omit those. In their place add your favorite dried fruits and nuts. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  36. Kathleen

    I, also have never liked fruit cake. In fact, it made me sick. This may possibly be one I can handle. Maybe I’ll try it. No Promises, Just maybe.
    I think the test kitchen staff is just wonderful. Hey, How about a KA traveling Demo in Florida? I do not think King Arthur has been here in a very long time and I would just love to attend one. Could you possibly put a bug in someones ear?

    I will let the Traveling Team know your request. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  37. Cher

    What a nice change from the “fruit”cakes with the suspicious jelly things in it.

    I saved a loaf to try a week or so out — I am very curious to see how this ages.

    Reply
  38. Lish

    My mom and grandmother love a “good” fruitcake. I didn’t like them when I was little because of the dried dates. I find now, though, that I love them, since I buy the ones that aren’t so dry you choke. I can’t wait to give this fruitcake to all my family members who have been denied fruitcake in recent years. And thank you for all the wonderful options for flavoring it to our own tastes. Looking forward to sharing this recipe.

    Reply
  39. Nancie

    My mom loved fruitcake, however my dad does not. Instead of fruit or fruit chunks in the cake, she found a wonderful substitute that dad would eat and that was Spice Gumdrops. The base of the cake had applesauce in it, that dad was fine with, it was the fruit pieces that were the problem. Matter of fact, her gumdrop cakes became the #1 requested Holiday Treat from family and friends. I think I will need to dig out that recipe and make some this year…

    Interesting idea, Nancie – my husband likes those jelly fruit slices, maybe I should try them sometime. Thanks for the suggestion! – PJH

    Reply
  40. Lisa

    I just baked my Norwegians mother’s fruit cake …my kitchen smells divine. Like the recipe shown here, my mothers cake is moist, with some citron,(just for color she would say) and walnuts. I omit the nuts and add golden rasins and Crasins. Just delicious! I’ve been told to sell it!! I just might try that this year..wish me luck!

    Lisa, enjoy – I’d love to see your mom’s recipe. My mom is Norwegian, too – but I don’t think she ever made a fruitcake. PJH

    Reply
  41. Chloe

    I am allergic to pineapple and pecans. However, the rest of this cake looks awesome, and I would like to try making it. Can I substitute another dried fruit for the pineapple and can I leave out the nuts all together?

    Yes, and yes, Chloe. How about dates? Golden raisins? Dried cranberries? Dried apricots would be wonderful… PJH

    Reply
  42. Carrie

    Mother’s wonderful fruitcake was always a family tradition while I was growing up but, unfortunately, I couldn’t entice my husband to even try any so I quit making it and now can’t even find the recipe. Thank you for this wonderful recipe, that I plan to make this year, (even if it is a bit past Halloween.) Off-topic question: Where can one purchase what mother called “seeded Muscat” raisins? They were huge and sweet, with tiny, crunchy seeds in them. I’ve hunted all over and no one seems to know anything about them.

    Sorry, Carrie – Here’s a link for seedless Muscats. You might try searching online… I know how sad it is when ingredients disappear… PJH

    Reply
  43. Bernie

    This is a lovely cake and can be had at any time of the year. I didn’t wait for weeks to try it when it finished and tried some of it immediately. Wonderful!

    Reply
  44. Gale Reeves

    If you leave the cherries off the top, and ‘rename’ the cake, many people who refuse fruitcake would probably taste this delicious sounding recipe. I’ll be baking this one soon.

    Reply
  45. kilted_john

    My first batch turned a bit crumbly. Is there somethign I missed or something I can add to “fix” this issue? Or with the aging of the cake, does it dry out a bit and hold together a little better?

    Great site … thanks for all of the sharing!!

    It’s definitely more crumbly than normal fruitcake, which can be quite gluey. I’d say keep brushing it with syrup, and keep it tightly wrapped. By the time I was done brushing mine, after a few weeks, it was much less crumbly. Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply
  46. Regina Coburn

    Every Thanksgiving’s Friday, my paternal grandmother and I would make old fashioned fruitcakes for the Christmas holiday’s. My grandmother would make at least 4 different kinds of fruitcake batters which she used bundt cake pans to cook her pretty fruit cakes in. My job was to take the extra batters and fill fancy muffin tins with to make little fruit cakes for the kids to enjoy at the kids table on Christmas day for our evening “tea” as grandma called it, as it usually occured 4 hours after Christmas dinner and right prior to our exchanging gifts.

    One of my favorite of grandma’s fruitcakes, she had always called Chinese fruit cake, was from an old recipe she got from her own grandmother, and sounded very much like the fruitcake in your blog here. The one main difference I saw was instead of pearl sugar she left the care “bare”. She made syrup for coating this cake using a small amount of homemade clear apple jelly, vanilla extra (also the homemade kind), and a tiny amount of cherry liquor with a drop of rum extract. This she would brush all the “Chinese fruitcakes” with – lightly – twice a week until Christmas eve. After she applied the Christmas eve coating she would pat untoasted Bakers coconut on the top and sides of the cakes. Talk about delicious. I can still taste those wonderful cakes just talking about them to this day, and it’s been nearly fifty years since my last Christmas at grandma’s house.

    Just thought I would share.

    Regina, what a lovely story. And I’ll bet this recipe is a REALLY old one, maybe from the days when China was a destination for New England sea captains, and the source of many “exotic” ingredients, which they’d bring back with them. I’ll bet you miss that fruitcake… have you ever tried to recreate it? PJH

    Reply
  47. Raina Douglass

    Hello, I came across your website after I’d already had a fruitcake marinating for about 6 weeks now. I’d very reliably spritz the cake weekly. The recipe I had called for either brandy or rum and I chose brandy for some reason. Anyway, now the cake itself is fine texturewise but there’s too much of a brandy smell. Do you think I should just let it sit and try to let it evaporate some more without any more spritzing or try a simple syrup spritz?

    Raina, I think maybe if you leave it uncovered for a day, but paint it a few times with plain sugar syrup, that might help? Although the brandy has already soaked in to a great extent…. but it’s worth a try. Hope you can enjoy it anyway- PJH

    Reply
  48. Breann

    This is going to be my first fruitcake (sorry, I know I’m a little late starting). It’s going to go in my Christmas goodie bags. I thought to get the most servings out, I would bake it in a muffin pan. Nobody really wants to try it and that way I can spread the love all around! :) Any suggestions on baking time? Thank you very much!
    What a good idea! Start testing your fruitcake muffins for doneness after about 15 minutes and keep checking every 5 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  49. Gail

    Can I add your “Cake Enhancer” to this recipe? If so, any alterations I should make? How much to add?
    In your test kitchen, did the apricot jam or orange marmalade make a better tasting cake?
    Thanks!!!

    Gail, you can try the Cake Enhancer, sure. I haven’t done it with this recipe, but try adding about 1/3 cup. Some folks liked the little bits of orange peel from the marmalade; others didn’t, so preferred the apricot. It’s mostly for moistness, anyway, since the flavor pretty much gets melded into all the other flavors. PJH

    Reply
  50. Janice M. Biscoe

    I made the fruitcake. Yummers! the aroma was too inviting….yeppers, had to try “just” a smidge. Wow! I am waiting for them to cool and then will wrap in cheesecloth that just has a “tad” bit of rum wafted on it and then…into the refrigerator. I have a knitting club party next week and one of these will be great. Of course, some of the ladies are in their 90s so of course, I will bring along extra rum so that they can taste it before eating and approve of the vintage! LOL I have made these and they are wonderful. Thank you so much for all the great recipes, tools and advice. Now I have to go get the cheesecloth and make sure that there is sufficient rum for the cakes.
    Janice in the Grand Canyon of Pa

    Reply
  51. Kristin

    I just made this yesterday! I didn’t want to buy dried pineapple because the bag was so small and so pricey, so I used a dried fruit mix. And I used a homemade peach jam instead of the apricot or orange. It really tastes mostly like a very dense coconut-y banana bread even though I didn’t use the coconut powder (I couldn’t find that) and there was only the one banana. It also took forever to cook! Regardless of all that, it was very delicious and I’ll definitely be adding it to my recipe box. I really liked how I could easily make substitutions without negatively effecting the recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    And thanks for trying different ingredients and sharing the results, Kristin – that helps all of us. PJH

    Reply
  52. Mable Migacz

    I have never made but one fruitcake and my family wasn’t too crazy about it because it had too much citrus and was very heavy. We really love this one and I very anxious too make more so I can make more for gifts. I have one question – where should I store my fruitcakes, should they be in a cool place or in a place that is room temperature (for example in the kitchen out of the way). I have so many of your recipes and products. Hooked for life- Mable

    Thanks for your positive feedback, Mable. I’d keep the fruitcake somewhere dark and cool – not cold, like the fridge, but just in an out of the way spot in a cooler room, like a room on the north side of the house, something like that. Or if your kitchen isn’t overly hot, there is fine, too. Glad you found a fruitcake you like! PJH

    Reply
  53. Cyn

    I’ve got six little loaf pans of this cake in the oven right now. They look so cute and the scent of them baking is wonderful! Like others who have commented, I hate the “regular” fruitcake even from upscale bakeries. My parents adore the regular stuff, so I do purchase one for them every year for their anniversary (a week before Christmas.) It’s my hope that I can sort of “convert” them with this tropical goodie! I’m also planning to send some to my aunt and uncle, and saving one for my boyfriend and me for…hmmm, perhaps New Year’s Eve?Rum-a-pum pum indeed!

    Thanks so much. I adore this blog and all the explanations of the recipes; it’s great to read about the reality of baking. Love the KAF products.

    Reply
  54. Janice M. Biscoe

    Hi, Just wanted to let you know that the fruitcake was a hit! The ladies all loved it and I had to do more! One of the comments was,” wow, no green stuff in here”! Also, “This tastes more like a cake and looks like one also”. And a last one, “Wow, did you put anything in here, like rum or something”?! I did and it was not overpowering. Your cake just embraced the flavors.
    This time, I made one “cake” and the rest of them cupcakes and they are beautiful. I started checking them at 15 minutes as suggested above and it did take almost 40 for them to be done. What a joy to be able to know that the goods that you supply are top-notch. I think that this fruitcake will be a centerpiece each year. As usual, everything is perfect.
    Janice

    Thanks for letting us know about your successful “fruit cake,” Janice – seems so long as it’s not called FRUITCAKE it goes over much better! PJH

    Reply
  55. Lynn Esterly

    this would be much easier if i could print it….i see nowhere to do that. i hate having to keep referring to my pc, which is in a totally different room than my kitchen! thank you.

    Lynn, easiest thing to do is to link to the recipe at the end of the blog, and click “printable version” (just below the recipe title). Here’s a link if you don’t want to backtrack. Sorry we’re making things difficult for you! PJH

    Reply
  56. sandra j mcgahan

    Ummm… At the risk of being laughed out of town… is it too late to start fruitcake for christmas giving now? the 15th, and I am ashamed to say time has gotten away from me. Thanks for your answer, I’ll be waiting with hopefulness that a little Christmas magic can still happen!

    No problem at all, Sandra. Just make sure you glaze it afterwards, then glaze it probably every other day. It’s the “fast forward” fruitcake! And this fruit cake can be enjoyed immediately – give it a try if you like. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  57. Bev in San Diego

    Just tried this recipe last night using canned pineapple and it turned out wonderfully. I don’t like dried fruit, nor did I want to do the soaking, so I bought a can of pineapple tid bits, cut them in half so that I had little cubes and squeezed out the liquid. The cake is moist, but not soggy, rose beautifully and it adds a nice zing to the banana-y sweetness.

    I also made it in a festive Nordic ware bundt pan and mini-bundt pans for the left over batter. 90 min for the big pan, 60 minutes for the minis. They look fabulous, would make wonderful gifts, and taste great. I will be taking them into work today for a final verdict.

    Reply
  58. kalcantara

    I just finished the first out of the 4 cakes I made with this recipe, in fact I made them in the exact way that its posted here. OMG!!! They came out sooooo good! I was planning to give 2 as a Christmas present mmm… don’t think so ;) Thanks so much KAF Here you have your biggest fan ever. Just to make u understand I currently live In Venezuela with my family and I always and I mean always find a way to get my things from the us! My husband says I’m the only person on earth capable of doing such a thing ;) And as I always say ingredients are ALL. KAF rocks!!!

    Reply
  59. Felechia

    I made this in December and I really liked it. I didn’t have dried pineapple, but I had some delicious dried mango that I used instead. And I didn’t have marmalade, or apricot jam, so I used Ginger Preserves, but it was still great. I baked it in two 8 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ pans and they took about two hours to test as done. Before I baked them I topped them with turbinado sugar and finished them with simple syrup flavoured with vanilla. I’m thinking this will be on the menu next December too, and now I know where to find dried pineapple bits! Thanks.

    Felechia, your tweaks sound marvelous! Thanks for sharing them here – PJH

    Reply
  60. natzsm

    I have been dying to test this recipe since I first saw it a couple of months ago but I have already baked a couple of “traditional” fruitcakes for my Christmas giveaways so had to postpone baking them.

    Planning of testing them NOW so I could decide if I am to make them for my Christmas 2012 giveaways.

    Could I use both coconut powder AND then still add coconut milk instead of regular milk or would that be over doing it?
    Is it possible to over-do coconut? I am a little biased, but I think it will be wonderful! ~Amy

    Reply
  61. natzsm

    I read in the blog entry for this recipe that these were still moist and delicious after seven weeks.

    Has anyone tried ageing them for six months or more like traditional fruitcakes?

    When I plan of aging fruitcakes for more than six months, I soak all my dried fruits for at least 48 hours in brandy or rum and omit all nuts in the batter to prevent them from turning rancid. I simply press the nuts on top of the fruitcake when I apply the final glaze two weeks before Christmas.

    I was wondering whether the dried coconut and coconut milk could stand a very long aging process?

    Readers, has anyone tried long aging of this particular recipe? We haven’t… as you say, the coconut might be the sticking point. PJH

    Reply
  62. natzsm

    It has been a week since I tried out the recipe. I was able to make four 7″ X 3″ loaf pans (I used a total of 700 grams of dried fruit). I filled the pans around 3/4 full and they rose beautifully above the rim of my pans. Right out of the oven, they kind of felt light for their size and I could tell that they were not dense because the cakes would spring back when I pressed the tops.

    I brushed the tops and sides with a mixture of brandy and honey about 1/4 cup per loaf and sealed them in plastic wrap. I have since brushed them a total of three times the last time using cherry brandy because I ran out of plain brandy.

    The cakes are stored in the refrigerator because it is warm and humid here. I plan to sample one of them on Valentine’s day and then eat one loaf every month to test the shelf life.

    I noticed that they are already kind of dense after the three brandy “sessions” but they still do absorb the brandy.

    How often do I still have to brush them for the next four months??
    Brushing with the 1/4 cup mixture once a week should be enough. ~Amy

    Reply
  63. natzsm

    Three fruitcakes down, one more to go!

    We taste tested the fruitcakes I made on the following dates:
    February 14 Valentine’s day when the cake was just 3 weeks old, another one on March 15th for a friends birthday at 7 weeks old and another one on Easter Sunday which was 10 weeks old.

    The cakes seemed to get better with age. I actually glazed them once a week as recommended till the fourth week then just glazed them every two weeks after that.

    I still have one more left which I plan to age some more.

    I love that these cakes are so good from as early as three weeks and remain good if not even better with age. This will make my Christmas baking schedule very flexible!

    Thanks for sharing the results of your fruitcake experiments here – very helpful for the rest of us! Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
    1. Pat Vinette

      It was eirly in the morning and I just got my son off to work, when I first started to read your resipy blogs here and now it is almost 8:00 AM I’m a slow reader but that was a lot of information to grasp, Itook myself notes to add to my resapy box. Tomorow I am going to try your fruit cake . My husband realy enjoyes my mothers fruit cake that my sister faithfuly makes every year,since Mom has been in heaven for 22 years now. It has been a tribute to her every year and a fether in my sister Rosemary’s hat for keeping her tradision in our Christmas for so many years. God bless every one who reads this and thank you for all your tips. We are 3 feet in snow here in north Ontario Canad and it has been in the – 40 for the past 3 weeks. It is nice to know there is some places that is warme this time of year.

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