Fruit-full: ’Tis the season.

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C’mon, admit it. You KNOW it wouldn’t be December without candied red cherries.

Never mind those icky green ones. I mean, where did THAT idea ever come from, that translucent, kelly-green cherries would be something you’d willingly put in your mouth?

As any self-respecting 4-year-old would say: EWWWWWWW.

But those red ones… There’s just something about their sticky-sweetness and brilliant color that makes me want to use them. In Cherry-Almond Brownies, for instance. Or to make cherry-stuffed truffles, a less-messy version of Cherry Cordial candies.

Or in Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake.

NOT fruitcake. We’ve been there already this season. Besides, the time is long past when you should have made your fruitcake, considering how much aging and glazing it should go through before making its appearance on the holiday table.

This cake is more like pound cake: dense and buttery. With its nuts, dried fruit, candied cherries, and a glaze of orange-scented syrup, this cake is a “keeper” – both the recipe, and the cake itself.

It’ll stay fresh for a couple of weeks… if it sticks around that long!

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What adds superior flavor and a tempting aroma to all kinds of baked treats? That would be our Fiori di Sicilia – “Flowers of Sicily” – which we discovered years ago, and have been happily using ever since. This combination of citrus and vanilla flavors (think Creamsicle) is used to flavor panettone in its native Italy.

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And here’s something we’ve been using a lot of this holiday season: our favorite fruit blend on the left, paired with our new orange-infused dried cranberries.

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We’ll begin by mixing 2 cups dried cranberries or orange-flavored dried cranberries; 2 cups of your favorite dried fruits or chopped dried apricots; and 1/2 cup water, cranberry juice, or brandy, your choice.

Cover and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.

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Stir, then set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Lightly grease the pan(s) of your choice: a full-size (12-cup) Bundt pan; or two half-size (6-cup) Bundt pans. Want to make loaves? Use two 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans. I chose to use two half-size Bundt pans, so I could make two cakes: one to give to my cake-loving in-laws, one to keep for my cake-loving husband.

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Combine the following in a large bowl:

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 1/4 teaspoon orange oil, optional

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Beat till well-combined.

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Beat in 4 large eggs, one at time. The batter will become light, smooth, and fluffy.

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Gradually stir in 3 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour alternately with 1 cup orange juice.

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Smoooooth…..

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At last – here come the candied cherries. Use 1 3/4 cups, about 10 ounces.

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Put the candied cherries, fruit (with any liquid), and 2 cups diced pecans or walnuts into the bowl.

Don’t like nuts? Leave ’em out.

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Mix to combine.

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Spoon the thick batter into the lightly greased baking pans, filling them nearly full. If you have a scale, dividing the batter evenly among the pans is simple math. If you’ve included the nuts, the batter weighs about 90 oz. (2552g).

Here it is in my two 6-cup (half-size) Bundt pans. Notice how close to the top the batter comes; as mentioned earlier, the cake is dense and thus won’t overflow the pan.

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Put the cakes in the oven. Uh-oh… they’re not going to overflow, are they?

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WHEW!

If you’re planning on glazing the cakes, stir together 1/3 cup orange juice and 1/3 cup sugar while the cakes are baking. Set aside to rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.

Bake the cakes for about 80 minutes. When done, the cakes will be a light golden brown all over, and a cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean.

If you’re baking in loaf pans, start testing at about 60 minutes, and remove when the cakes test done.

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Remove from the oven.

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Wait about 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a rack.

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Immediately brush with the glaze. Continue to brush until you’ve used all the glaze; the cakes will be quite saturated, which is the point.

If you choose not to use the glaze, you may wish to brush the warm cake(s) with brandy or the liquor of your choice.

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Too much glaze? Not at all; it’ll soak in nicely.

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Now THAT is one regal-looking cake, candied cherries and all.

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See the darker-colored edges? That’s where the glaze has soaked in.

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When it’s completely cool, wrap well and let rest at least 24 hours (or for up to a month, brushing with liquor or flavored syrup weekly), before serving.

This really is a delicious cake. And pretty, especially when made in a Bundt pan – the perfect centerpiece for a holiday dessert buffet.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Orange-Cranberry-Nut 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. T.B.

    looks great! is there a difference between candied cherries and maraschino cherries?

    Candied cherries are drier and a bit sweeter. But substitute maraschinos, so long as you dry them thoroughly, squeezing them to remove as much juice as possible. You might even try oven drying them a bit – PJH

    Reply
  2. nancy

    I want to try this, could I use the bake and give pans from your store?
    That way I can share and not eat it all myself!

    Absolutely, Nancy – take a look at the recipe, it gives you all sorts of options for bake & give pans. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  3. twyla

    I might actually try this w/o the candied cherries as it’s part of the reason that I don’t like fruitcakes. It sounds yummy.

    Reply
  4. Lish

    I actually really love the red candied cherries. They add so much to fruit bread or fruitcakes. They are delicious in pumpkin bread. The green ones are the reason I didn’t like fruitcakes when I was little. I love a good fruitcake though, and this looks like a good recipe for those of us who didn’t have time to make the traditional fruitcake a few weeks ago. I think I will make this over the weekend. Today I made a white whole wheat cranberry orange bread with the candied orange peel and some of the orange dried cranberries. YUMMY!

    Reply
  5. Nancy

    Another wonderful “fruit-full” cake to try! We just polished off a loaf of our very favorite 90-Minute Fruitcake that you posted last year. We call it “Fruit Bread” to fool those who wouldn’t be willing to try it if they were told the original name! I always end up giving out the recipe – even to those who were doubtful they would like it. The pan size is for 1 9×5 and I was hoping that you could help me figure out the baking time and how many mini pans this would make.

    This new recipe looks just as good and I appreciate the additional pan sizes you included. Any idea for the number of mini loaf pans and times for this new recipe??

    Thanks for so many wonderful recipes!

    Hi Nancy – Please click on the recipe link at the end of the blog. It’ll tell you the number of mini pans to use. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  6. Kat DeFonce

    This looks heavenly! I have one question though… what kind of sugar do you use for the glaze?

    For the clear orange glaze I brushed on the cake? Just plain granulated sugar, Kat… PJH

    Reply
  7. Dionakaye Sims

    Hi, there! Wow … that cake looks WONDERFUL! Especially for someone who doesn’t particularly like fruit cake. I will definitely have to try this recipe out. This cake is absolutely handsome! And a good-sized one, too. Where did you get the bright, red cherries? I’ve seen dried cherries at the market, and they are quite dark. I like the idea of making “tall” or “big” cakes, and I have been shopping around online and at the stores to find a “big” cake pan. Is there anything out there that you know of that bakes AT LEAST once and a half larger than the standard bundt-size cake … maybe even twice as big? A large cake big enough in and of itself to impress a king? Or a very tall person? :) Thank you.

    Hi – We sell lovely, bright red candied cherries. I think your best bet for a big cake is simply multiple layers, anchored with bamboo skewers for stability. I wouldn’t go much taller than the largest Bundt pan, as it would be difficult for the cake to bake all the way through. I’ve made a cake that’s 8 layers – actually four standard layers, each cut in half and filled with icing, so it ends up really quite tall – but also quite tippy, skewers and all. It’s a challenge for sure… PJH

    Reply
  8. wes

    I just made these this afternoon and they smell wonderful while baking. I made them egg-free (since my grandson is allergic to eggs) by using 1 cup of applesauce in place of the four eggs. I added the applesauce 1/2 cup at a time instead of in four additions. I used dried pineapple, dried tart cherries, apricots and golden raisins in addition to the dried cranberries. I haven’t glazed them yet, and I don’t know if I will, but if I do, I’m contemplating glazing them with a vanilla simple syrup. I baked them in the loaf pans, and I don’t know if it was due to the applesauce substitution or failure to butter thoroughly, but they stuck to the pan.

    Probably the sticking was due to a bit of both, Wes. Try greasing the pan with a non-stick vegetable oil spray, or with solid shortening, next time; butter has milk solids that’ll make things stick, so it’s not really the best thing to grease pans with. Thanks for reporting your success with the applesauce substitution! PJH

    Reply
  9. fleeg

    This recipe looks so good, and with the oj glaze, I bet it is so moist. Any particular way of storing it so it won’t go bad in 2 or 3 days? Also, PJ, in defense of the green cherry, there is one use for them, and that is leaves on a Yule log, by cutting them into quarters.

    Thank you all for this wonderful, customer friendly blog.

    Ah, I definitely stand corrected (or sit, at the moment). Green leaves – never thought of that! I’d store this in a plastic bag, for easiest access, at room temperature. As I said (I think?) the one I had, which was heavily glazed, rested about a month before we ate it, and it was very good. So long as you apply that soaking sugar glaze… PJH

    Reply
  10. judy

    I have some cranberry wine. Do you think that would be a good substitute for cranberry juice?

    I do, Judy – go for it, great idea! PJH

    Reply
  11. judy

    Thanks, PJ! Another question: I don’t have a microwave. So on the stove should I just get the dried fruit and wine to a boil?
    Just heat till warm-you do not need to bring to a boil. Joan D@bakershotline

    Reply
  12. Joseph Phipps

    I found this recipe in your latest catalog. It looked delicious so I immediately made it. The catalog recipe, however, did not include the orange glaze for brushing (just the suggestion of brandy or flavored syrup). I was very glad to find the glaze in the on-line version as I would have to buy brandy just for this cake. Thanks.

    Yes, Joseph, I added that glaze after the fact; just sounded good to me, and I think it’s good for both flavor and texture. Glad you enjoyed it – PJH

    Reply
  13. Tip McGuire

    This is a FABULOUS not-a-fruitcake fruitcake! Just to put it “over the top,” we serve it with sweetened whipped cream–but that’s totally unnecessary. Totally decadent, and everyone–including those afraid of fruit cakes, love it!

    Reply
  14. judy london

    another way to make this not-a-fruitcake cake is to just substitute quartered maraschino cherries for all of the fruit, and add about 1/4cup of the cherry juice to the batter. you can also add cherry juice to white icing to make it pink.this was my grandmother’s recipe for cherry cake. i don’t know which was better……….the cake,or the memories
    That sounds delightful to me. I’m a big cherry fan. Now to convince the family! Happy New Year ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  15. jane conboy

    This recipe is amazing! The colors are beautiful and the batter is very versatile. I used your mini loaf pans. I had planned to give them all away as gifts but one bite of that buttery goodness….Let’s just say that we’ve eaten more than our fair share. I made a second batch that is waiting patiently in our freezer.

    Reply
  16. heather

    My mom made this fruitcake for Christmas and instead of using the candied cherries, she used “real dried cherries”, and I think that really made the cake – absolutely delicious! I will bamaking this next year for CHristmas – using the dried cherries

    Reply
  17. SputnikDeb

    I adore cherries, but hate all candied cherries used in fruitcakes: other than being sweet, they have no flavor. I use dried cherries instead, although that is a bit of a strong taste and I’ve had to experiment dialing back the amount. It was great to see the suggestion of maraschino cherries instead, since I love those . . . I will have to try that next time. When I bake this cake, I use 1/2 cup of Triple Sec to stir into the dried fruit. Then when the cake is done (two loaves), I baste each one with 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier, wrap in foil, seal in Ziplock freezer bags, and let age for at least a couple of weeks if I can keep my husband out of them; otherwise, I prefer a good month or more. Awesomely good!

    Reply
  18. norahrice

    This is a fantastic cake!!!! My family does not like candied fruit at all so I started with this cake recipe…..use only the dried fruit, including dried (real) cherries. I think the Fiori di Sicilia makes the cake…it is wonderful! All my friends and neighbors love this wonderful cake and I bake it several times between Oct. and Jan.

    Glad to hear it – and the Fiori is indeed a great addition, isn’t it? PJH

    Reply
  19. J Gruesner

    This fruit bread (great idea to call it that) is fantastic! I’m not glazing it with orange or brandy. Just leaving it plain and it is the best! Can I freeze it? If I leave it out, it will be eaten… by me! I’d like to freeze it until Thanksgiving, if possible.
    Yes, this will freeze very well until the holiday. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. joanski

    Never have I been a fan of Christmas fruitcakes, but this one has made me a convert. I have made it two years in a row and monkeyed around with the dry fruit mix. Every year our church has a holiday concert and our group of H.H. Ladies (Heavenly Hosts) has a reception after the concert and the ladies supply the treats. I made this recipe for this year’s concert, but changed the whole mix including dried blueberries and banana chips along with the usual mix. The recipe is quite forgiving and I think I might “convert” some other folks who don’t like fruit cake. Divine!

    Reply
  21. G Morris

    It isn’t my mother-in-laws “no, I don’t have a recipe” fruitcake. BUT using a reasonable amount of dried fruit (suit your personal fruit taste) instead of just candied fruit with a little more cake has brought my lifelong fruitcake search to an END! When you bake (KAF does NOT use convection), the blessing of weighing ingredients insures success. I’ve made it twice and we don’t want to share. We almost didn’t survive the 24 hour wait on the first one. We will try the second one tomorrow after basting it with bourbon for two weeks. When you microwave the dried fruit (with the liquid you choose) for two minutes, do it in a tart pan or some similar shallow sized vessel. Then, cover with plastic wrap until it is completely cooled. This allows the fruit to hydrate so it won’t take so much moisture from the cake itself. KAF ROCKS!!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Ah, so happy we could help fulfill your fruitcake fantasies! Two weeks of basting with bourbon? Oh, yes… Thanks for the tips, and for sharing your story here. PJH

  22. Rose Lasker

    I made this cake with whatever dried fruits I could find to fill out the 1 cup of dried cranberries I had. For the other cup, I used dried cherries and dried currants. I also used 2 cups of dried fruit mix and 2 cups of both red and green cherries. The reason for the alterations is that I couldn’t wait to try the recipe until I could get to the store, so I went to the pantry and used what I thought might work. I soaked the fruit in brandy. I had only vanilla, so I added a teaspoon to the batter instead of the Fiori or orange oil. For basting the cake, I used a Spanish liquor called “43″ or “Cuarenta y Tres”. It is described as a sweet blend of citrus, herbs, aromatic spices, and vanilla. It worked very well as the basting liquid. In fact, 43 works well almost anywhere. I used it as a flavoring for my fresh whipped cream for Thanksgiving. I also use it as a little dessert drink every now and then. Back to the topic…the cake was superb! Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Well, I definitely need to check out that “43,” Rose – sounds like it would have some excellent baking applications. Thanks for sharing – PJH

  23. Amy P

    Talk about a show stopper!
    I will definitely make this! One question though, forgive me if it was already asked before.. I haven’t had a chance to purchase a microwave, so what do you suggest me to do with the dried fruits?
    Many thanks:)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Simply heat the liquid you want to use on the stove and pour over your fruit. Soak until needed! Jon@KAF

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