Golden Fruitcake: Let the fruitcake festivities begin

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Isn’t it funny that when you get a group of people together, you can usually divide them up in so many different groups with just a few words?

Cat lovers over here, dog lovers over there. Easy listening on the right, Heavy Metal on the left.

Vanilla? Chocolate.

Hey, fruitcake lovers, join me on the couch.

*crickets chirping*…Ummm, anyone? Fruitcake lovers, I’m waiting. *sigh*.

Okay, I know fruitcake is the most maligned baked good on the face of the planet, but I truly think that stems from centuries of rough, hard, dry lumps being passed off as holiday treats. Who wants to wake up on Christmas morning to a dark, chunky, sticky mass with outbreaks of day-glo protrusions pockmarking the surface?

Well, I’m here to tell you that is all literally in the past, and this year you can become one of the new in crowd.

Seriously, all the Hollywood stars are raving about fruitcake now, and I’ve heard they even want to give fruitcake a spot on the Walk of Fame*. A not-to-be named rock star is planning to wear a fruitcake hat and gown to the Oscars this year**, and a free-wheelin’ singer has written a song called “Fruitcakes†.”

*Okay, maybe I haven’t heard that but a baker can dream, can’t she?

**Again, maybe not, but wouldn’t that be something to see?

†Actually, this one is true. Parrothead rocker Jimmy Buffet has a song called “Fruitcakes.” It’s one of my personal favorites.

So, jump on the bandwagon and forget everything you’ve been told about fruitcake in the past. I PROMISE YOU fruitcake can be light, tender, fruity, and full flavored, with nary a hint of cement or acid-colored fake foods. While we have a plethora of good recipes on our site, my sites are set on our Golden Fruitcake recipe. Let’s get started.

Let’s start with the fruits. Remember, while it’s nice to go “traditional,” be sure to use the fruits that you like. You’ll need 6 3/4 to 7 cups of fruit, including the cherries. For this batch, I used dried dates, candied peel, dried cranberries, golden raisins, and two types of cherries.

Our favorite fruit blend is just delightful as well, using diced apricots, raisins, pineapple cubes, chopped dates, and sweetened cranberries. I’m not an apricot girl, but if the blend appeals, it’s the real deal!

Candied red cherries are the norm, but I’m in love with maraschino cherries, so I used those as well. One cup of maraschino and 3/4 cup candied worked out well for me, but you can reverse the ratio if you wish.

To plump and refresh the fruits, soak in 3/4 cup brandy, rum, or apple juice overnight at room temperature. This is one of those steps that while you do have to plan ahead, makes a huge difference in the outcome of the finished cake. Please, please don’t skip this part.

The next day when you’re ready to bake, combine in your stand mixer bowl:

1 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, optional

Beat until light and fluffy.

Beat in 5 eggs, one at a time.  Alternate adding 3 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and 1 cup milk, beginning and ending with flour.

At this point, I always have a hard time not dipping into the batter. It just smells like Christmas.

Stir in 2 cups diced nuts. I used both walnuts and pecans. Please do choose your favorites.


Waaahooo! Everybody into the pool! Add in your soaked fruits and any leftover soaking liquid. Stir everything together a few more times and get ready to pan it all up.


This recipe makes a LOT of batter! I was able to get one 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, plus…


Two 4 3/4” x 2 ¾” x 1 ¾” pans, four 2 1/2” round mini pans, one mini brioche pan (2-cup capacity) and two 7″x 3 1/2″ x 2″ medium paper pans.

Whew! Of course, you can choose which sizes work best for you. See the recipe for more tips on how many of each pan you can get out of one batch of batter.


Bake the cake in a preheated 300°F oven. Baking time will depend on the size of your pans and number of pans used. For an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan, baking time will be around 50 to 80 minutes. To see if cake is fully baked, check to be sure it’s light golden brown all over; a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, and the edges of the cake just barely begin to pull away from the pan.

While the batter tends to pull away cleanly from the metal loaf pans, it can be a little less neat for your paper pans. Running a slim knife or scraper around the edge of the cake once it comes out of the oven is a real help in getting a nice, even release. In the test kitchen, we call it ” doing the thingaround.”

While the cakes are still warm, brush with a little extra brandy, rum, or juice. You’ll want just enough to moisten the loaves, but not soak them.

How’s that for luck? I didn’t place the cherry in the center of this loaf, but when I turned it out of the pan, there it was. As we do share pans here in the kitchen, I felt obliged to turn out my largest fruitcake, to free up the pan. When it’s cool, I’ll put it on a plate for storage. If you’re using paper pans, there’s no need to turn out your fruitcake.

Speaking of the paper bake and give pans, we are often asked how to get the baked goods out of them. For small round loaves, peel them off like you would peel an orange. That’s the beauty of the disposable pan.

For the loaves, if you cut down along the four corners, you can peel off each side and have a little tray underneath. It makes slicing a breeze.

Here they are, wrapped up and ready to be “laid down.” If you don’t plan to brush them with liquor once a week, you can put them right into the freezer for up to 3 months. If you’re going to brush them, they can remain at room temperature for at least that long.

Most fruitcake lovers will make their holiday cakes in October to have them sufficiently ripened by December. For those of you with eagle eyes, you’ll notice that the little brioche pan of fruitcake is missing, along with a couple of the smaller round ones.

Where did they go?

Those fruit and nut studded wonders went straight to the tasting table. You absolutely can eat fruitcake the day that it’s made. You’ll get the mild spice from the cake, the crunch of the nuts, and the tang of the fruits. If you used liquor, it will be a little sharper, not quite as mellow. Still and all, a sublime dessert for coffee time any day of the week.

Be sure to join us for Fruitcake Fridays on our Facebook page. Each Friday, we’ll be sharing fruitcake trivia, tips, tricks, and folklore. You can also use it as a reminder to booze up your fruitcakes once a week from now until the holidays. See you there!!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Golden Fruitcake

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MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. cookie567

    We LOVE fruitcake! In fact, I’m getting ready to experiment with King Arthur’s Cherry Berry Chocolate Fruitcake – adding a different alcohol and using a different fruit combination (gotta work with what I’ve got and the alcohol/flavoring is what we’re trying to showcase ).

    Love the blog, I read it regularly. My only regret, after losing a significant amount of weight, I have to really regulate my baking :)
    OH Man, I hear ya there! It’s hard to find places to send baked goods too. My DH’s co-workers are not big on sweets, and bringing it here is hard too. I guess there is always the teachers’ room at the high school. Great going on the weight loss, keep up the good work. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. bsteimle

    I’ve always wanted a good light fruitcake recipe, and King Arthur it looks like you’ve come through again. I have a dark fruitcake recipe that I love, that is probably close to 100 years old (maybe more). It was from the mother of one of my mother’s friends (and my mother is 83!) and she never gave out her recipes. The way we got it was that my brother was in the service and my mother wanted to make some to send to him.
    I’m so glad you were able to get a copy of the beloved recipes. It’s always a struggle to decide to keep your special recipes secret or share them, but in the last few years I’ve really been leaning towards sharing more than not. I’d hate to see my daughter and her friends sad because they didn’t know the secret to my pizza crust. Thanks for chiming in, and Happy Fruitcake Season! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. KellyH

    If I may, it’s hard to not notice how much attention KAF gives to the gluten-free set, which is wonderful. I love your products and recipes. There is, however, one aspect that I’d love to see in your products: less artificial colourants. Is it possible for you to carry candied cherries without FD&C colours?
    Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll pass it along to the merch team today. Happy baking! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. AmericanGirlinQuebec

    I have never personally been a fan of fruitcake, but I discovered last year that it is shockingly popular in Quebec. It was my first holiday season up here, and I couldn’t believe how many fruitcakes I saw in the stores, let alone how many people were buying them! The biggest shock came when my husband came home with one. He was genuinely excited to eat it, and couldn’t believe that I didn’t like fruitcake. I’m still not a convert (I’m not a big fan of candied/dried fruit and nuts in my cakes), but maybe I’ll try making one for my husband this year.

    Reply
  5. andipete6155

    Fruitcake, like a lot of things, has changed over the last 30 years! I really enjoy making my fruitcake and giving it as a gift to my mom and sister and they REALLY enjoy getting it every year…maybe it has something to do with the rum soaked fruit! I still don’t care for the version my mom makes – candied fruit and no rum. I used dried fruit – pretty much anything I can find at our local food co-op. I LOVE fruitcake – and I’m not ashamed to say so!
    You can join me on the fruitcake lovers bench anytime Andipete! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. R

    Is there any chance of seeing a gluten-free fruitcake? My mother LOVES fruitcake, but can’t have gluten, I’d love to surprise her with her favorite treat this year.
    Hi R.
    We don’t have a GF fruitcake recipe in the works right now, but perhaps other great sites like http://www.glutenfreegirl.com may be able to help you out this season. And I’ll add GF fruitcake to the wish list for next season. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. mizwidget

    What’s with this “brush the baked loaves with extra brandy, rum or juice” stuff? :-) I line my loaf pans with waxed paper before filling them with fruitcake batter. So when I pull them done, out of the oven, I poke some holes in the tops of loaves and glug on about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of booze over the still hot fruitcakes! After they cool, I may pour on a little more booze. Then, I’ll store the thoroughly cooled loaves in zippered plastic baggies. Sometimes I’ll remember to pour on more rum or brandy, but the fruitcakes age just fine.
    Woo hooo, fruitcake party at your house! Let us know when to show up! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. conniegarcia

    I have been threatening to make a fruitcake for years unlike most people I actually like fruitcake. The only problem I find with it is there is TOO much fruit. Is it possible to make this cake with less fruit and will it still hold together?
    Hi there,
    Yes, you can definitely cut down on the amount of fruit. Try removing a cup total, cutting down those fruits that you don’t like as well and keeping those that you do. You can bake and fiddle with fruit amounts until you are happy with the results. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. georgeaquinas

    I made this recipe this last weekend. I love fruitcake and wanted to give this recipe a try. Recipe turned out great and was very easy to follow. I made seven small loafs for Christmas gifts. Unfortunately, neighbors came over last night and I am now down to six! The fruitcake was very good after just sitting for one night. I can’t wait to see how it tastes in a month. Love your website and your blog. Keep it up!
    How great that you had a nice fresh fruitcake to share last night, to start the snow season off right! :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. cartvl219

    For those looking for a (temporary) home for excess baked goods, a food columnist in the local paper suggested recently (9/11 anniversary) that baked goodies or other prepared food items be taken to your local fire house or police station. Do something nice for the good folks who work so hard for all of us.

    Personally, I like fruit cake. I have my mother’s recipe but haven’t made it for years. Several years ago I had a taste of a fruit cake made in Canada. It had an unusual spice in it – maybe cardamom? The cake was from the mother of a co-worker and the recipe was never given out, even to her children – an attitude I have never understood. So I still do not know what that spice was.

    Carolyn
    What a lovely idea Carolyn. I’m sure those folks who work so hard to keep us safe would love some homemade “thank you” treats.
    I’m sorry that you never got to find out what the spice was. Any thoughts from our Canadian bakers? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. kelly_

    Not being a particularly patient baker, and someone who looooves this fruitcake, I’ve found a way drastically decrease the soaking time needed to start this recipe: Instead of soaking the fruit in rum overnight, microwave for 5 minutes (on High) to re-hydrate fruit. (All fruit except the candied cherries.) Let cool and continue. This also makes your kitchen smell wonderful!
    Hi Kelly,
    Thanks for sharing your tip. I know Sue Gray in the kitchen is a big fan of that method too. Happy baking! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. rdr

    I’m tempted by your fruitcake recipe, but one question — how much alcohol is in this cake once all is said and done and it’s time to eat it? Is it okay to serve this to children?
    Hi there,
    If I were planning on serving to kids, I’d go the alcohol free route. It gets pretty potent over the weeks of waiting. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  13. misoranomegami

    If you’re going the apple juice route would you still want to brush it every week or at that point would you just freeze and serve later? I know sugar can be a preservative but there’s a big difference between brandy in juice in spoilage factor. :P
    Yes, if you are going the fruit juice route, you want to go with the freezer for preserving your fruitcakes. There just wouldn’t be enough sugar action to preserve the cakes at room temperature. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. TrishaT

    Hi,

    I started making fruitcakes with your mix last year and got rave reviews. We enjoyed it so much I bought more on sale after the holidays and made it on a day off in May. We’ve been enjoying it since the weather turned colder. I have to make more for Christmas soon! Thanks for all of the encouragement!
    That fruitcake must have tasted so good in the spring. Kind of like how having a root beer float in February makes you all smiley. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  15. welshwmn3

    “Okay, I know fruitcake is the most maligned baked good on the face of the planet, but I truly think that stems from centuries of rough, hard, dry lumps being passed off as holiday treats. Who wants to wake up on Christmas morning to a dark, chunky, sticky mass with outbreaks of day-glo protrusions pockmarking the surface?”

    Umm, me!

    Seriously, you haven’t lived til you have a thinly sliced piece of fruitcake, full of good quality alcohol, first thing on Christmas morning! :P

    Works for my family :-) Susan

    Reply
  16. grapevinetexas

    I purchased my dried fruits from KA and have been soaking them in brandy and rum for months. I’m shameless. This drunken fruit is going to jump right out of the jar and into this batter without even thinking about it.

    This recipe is bookmarked for good reason. I absolutely love fruitcake!

    Reply
  17. antoinettolshefsky

    I plan on baking this recipe this weekend using your fruit blend, candied cherries and fiori di sicilia. Do you think Galliano Liquore
    would work well for weekly basting?
    You’re recipe sounds great! I would say if the Galliano Liquore is something that you enjoy drinking, then it would be a good soaker for your cake! ~Mel

    Reply
  18. share

    Is there something close in KAF for a clone of the Harry and David’s (fruitcake) Confection??? I have been trying to make that little number since forever! If yu like/love light fruitcakes I can tell you this whatever it is they have will make you an addict like its crack! When looking for a recipe online I found where it was said the recipe for this is now a “secret”, but at one time it was a newspaper published recipe and that’s where it originated for H and D. It had no alcohol, and only fresh cherries, pineapple and walnuts. The batter is so minimal it just holds the fruit together. I am going to make this posted recipe but half the batter portion and double the fruit portion. (It’s ok, I make at least 3 diff fruitcake recipes a yr testing for H and Ds! LOL)

    Hey, good luck – let us know how it goes… PJH

    Reply
  19. CDNgirl

    Love love fruitcake! Learned to make it with my grandmother about 50 yr ago. Couldn’t wait for Christmas to come around. It was also used for most wedding cakes back in the day. It was cute., wrapped and placed in lil cake boxes for the guests to take home. The big cake at he reception was actually fake with only one real layer to have the bride and groom cut. I would go around taking all the boxes that guests left behind. Lol
    Last time I made fruitcake was with a South African friend. We put so much Booze in it (started in sept). When we took it to work (we are both nurses) people were going crazy over it. All that was left behind was the cheesecloth it was wrapped and soaked in. Made fruitcake lovers out of non-believers.

    Reply

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