Everyone's Favorite Fruitcake

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Hands-on time:
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Yield: 36 small cakes; 2 large loaves; or anything in between

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"No, no, not the dreaded FRUITCAKE..." Fear not: this moist, dark cake is loaded with yummy-tasting dried fruits, not the icky, bitter candied peel and citron you remember from visiting your grandma at Christmas. The dried fruits suggested below are simply that — suggestions. Feel free to substitute your own favorites; you'll need about 2 1/2 pounds dried fruit total.

Want to make this cake gluten free? See "tips," below.

Note: This recipe was formerly named Fruitcake Even Fruitcake Non-Lovers Will Love. So if you were looking for that recipe — you've found it!

Everyone's Favorite Fruitcake

star rating (15) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time: Overnight,
Yield: 36 small cakes; 2 large loaves; or anything in between
Published: 11/21/2013

Ingredients

Fruit

  • 1 1/2 cups diced dried pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins, golden or regular
  • 1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) diced dried apricots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dates
  • heaping 1 cup candied red cherries, plus additional for decoration, if desired
  • 1/3 cup diced crystallized ginger, optional
  • 3/4 cup rum, brandy, apple juice, or cranberry juice

Batter

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (15 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa, black cocoa preferred; optional, for color
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup, boiled cider, or dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple juice, cranberry juice or water
  • 2 cups chopped, toasted nuts (almonds, pecans, or walnuts)

Topping/glaze (optional)

  • rum, brandy, simple syrup, vanilla syrup, or ginger syrup

Tips from our bakers

  • Do you HAVE to brush the cakes with alcohol or syrup? Well, it keeps them moist for weeks; in fact, I just unwrapped one of these cakes I made 6 weeks ago (and brushed with simple syrup just once, then wrapped in plastic); it's just as moist and tasty as it was the day it was baked. But if you want to leave them "un-brushed," understanding they won't stay moist long-term, that's just fine.
  • If you've made the small, muffin-sized cakes, it helps to put them all in a large plastic container with a snap-on lid; or into a sealed plastic bag, both to help keep them moist, and to be able to move 3 dozen cakes around without a fuss.
  • This recipe can also fill two tea loaf pans. Divide the batter among two lightly greased tea loaf pans, or bake one after the other if you only have one tea loaf pan (if you have a kitchen scale, half the batter will weigh 3 1/2 pounds). Bake the cakes for 2 hours to 2 hours and 10 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Yield: 2 tea loaves.
  • Want to make this cake gluten-free? Simply substitute King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour for the all-purpose flour, and add 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum along with the flour.

Directions

1) To prepare the fruit: Combine the fruit with the liquid of your choice in a non-reactive bowl; cover and let rest overnight. Too impatient to wait until tomorrow? Microwave everything for 1 minute (or until it's very hot), cover, and let rest 1 hour.

2) Preheat the oven to 300°F. This recipe makes enough batter for ONE (not all!) of the following: 3 dozen individual (muffin pan) cakes; 16 mini loaves (about 3 3/4" x 2 1/2"); 6 to 8 medium loaves (about 3" x 5"); or 2 standard 9" x 5" loaves. Choose your pans (or combinations), and lightly grease them. If you're making muffin-size cakes in a standard muffin pan, line the pan with muffin papers, and lightly grease the papers.

3) To make the batter: Place the the butter and sugar in a large bowl (at least 6-quart), and beat together until well combined.

4) Beat in the salt, spices, and baking powder.

5) Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition.

6) In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and cocoa.

7) Add the flour mixture and the syrup (or boiled cider) to the mixture in the bowl, beating gently to combine.

8) Stir in the juice or water, then the fruit with any collected liquid, and the nuts. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir until everything is well combined.

9) Spoon the batter into the pans, filling them about 3/4 full.

10) Bake the cakes on the middle shelf of the oven, as follows: about 60 minutes for the individual cakes; 65 to 70 minutes for the small loaves; 75 minutes for the medium loaves, and 2 hours + 10 to 15 minutes for the 9" x 5" loaves. The cakes are done when a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

11) Remove the cakes from the oven, and brush them with rum or brandy. Or simple syrup, or flavored simple syrup (vanilla, rum-flavored, etc.). If you like just a hint of rum or brandy flavor, add 1 tablespoon of liquor to 3/4 cup vanilla syrup or simple syrup, and brush this mixture on the cakes.

12) When the cakes are completely cool, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and store at room temperature for up to 6 to 8 weeks.

Yield: 2 large loaves to 3 dozen small cakes, depending on size.

Nutrition information

Serving Size: 1 slice (91g) Servings Per Batch: 32 (16 per loaf) Amount Per Serving: Calories: 320 Calories from Fat: 100 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 4.5g Trans Fat: 0 Cholesterol: 40mg Sodium: 130mg Total Carbohydrate: 50g Dietary Fiber: 2g Sugars: 30g Protein: 4g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.

Reviews

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  • star rating 12/26/2014
  • Silvia from Mexico
  • First time I try to do fruitcake, followed this recipe and it was a success. I'm very pleased with the result.
  • star rating 12/14/2014
  • amanda from ohio
  • This is seriously the BEST! not nasty like traditional..omg I made this last year and was so happy I found the recipe! You have to try it it's AMAZING!!!!😊
  • star rating 12/07/2014
  • A cook from Boston
  • I'm a lover of "old school" fruitcake and will be trading in my old recipe for this one. Docked one star due to crumbliness BUT the depth of flavor and moist spice are awesome. I candied my own orange peel, ginger and pineapple and replaced the raisins with these, replaced the cherries with candied cranberries, plus added some extra fruit and nuts. I also added ground cloves, and brushed with a little orange-ginger simple syrup. The flavors meld beautifully. Just, as another reviewer said, more like a pumpkin bread consistency than a sliceable log. But that didn't stop my husband and I from devouring a small loaf right out of the oven!!
  • star rating 12/31/2013
  • Sandy from Smithville, Ontario, Canada
  • My original review would have been two stars as I found the baking times too long and ruined my first batch. Not to be discouraged I tried it again reducing my cook times and it was perfect. I omitted the ginger and did not use alcohol but it was just as yummy, Gave some away as Christmas gifts and I hear everyone loves it. I will be making this again before next holiday season. I was never a fruitcake hater but thought the process was too daunting. This was easy to do and I would recommend this to everyone.
  • star rating 12/20/2013
  • Maxine from Bellevue, WA
  • I am a fruitcake lover, so I was really excited to see a recipe from such a trusted source. I made a few, very small, changes based on what I had to work with. 1) I used a 2 lb. container of pre-mixed (fluorescent!) fruits and added the rest of a bag of dried dates, chopped up. The fruit, frankly, smelled a little funky and was more than a little tough. I stewed it in a wide pot with a few splashes of apple/cherry juice, and then added a splash of vanilla to get rid of the odd smell. (The fruit wasn't bad, it just wasn't great quality. My fault, really.) 2) I baked my batter in a parchment lined half-sheet pan, for about 90 minutes. 3) I brushed the top with agave nectar, and I really hope that works out! I just didn't have time to make a simple syrup. So. The rest of the recipe is pretty straight forward. I grew up eating my grandmother's fruitcake every year, sliced thick, and topped with an ice cold slice of sharp cheddar, and eaten out of hand. This is not Grandma's fruitcake! If you are looking for a recipe that makes a dense, sliceable fruitcake, keep looking. (I think my sister has the original recipe, and it involves only 1 1/2 cups of flour and no butter.) However, this recipe is absolutely scrumptious. I cannot stop nibbling. The top made almost a layer of toffee, and the inside is moist and crumbly and sticky, like a perfect loaf of pumpkin bread. The flavors are right on, just like I remember. (Remember the day-glo fruit I mentioned? That's one of my favorite parts. ;-) Can't mess with a classic!)
    Thanks for your scrumptious review! Happy Baking - Irene@KAF
  • star rating 12/15/2013
  • Damon from Atlantic, NC
  • Unless I just missed it, the directions fail to tell you to mix in the nuts. Be careful not omit them.
  • star rating 12/12/2013
  • mrscanion from KAF Community
  • I would put myself in the non-lover category prior to making this recipe :-) My husband likes fruitcake and I decided after being married for 12 years that I should try my hand at making some for him. He loves this recipe and I have to say I got a bit giddy when I tasted it - and it wasn't because of the rum! I used some currants instead of raisins, added some dried mango and prunes and skipped the pineapple. This is definitely going to become a new holiday tradition in our home. Thank you for sharing!
  • star rating 12/08/2013
  • Melony A Wilkinson from Venice, FL
  • I am a dyed in the wool fruitcake junkie. I can very easily find a reason all year long to make/eat it. I tried this recipe today and it turned out perfect! I made mine gluten free with an all purpose mix from Namaste Foods that can be substituted cup for cup. I had so much fun making this that I documented the entire process with a camera and posted the pics to my Facebook page as though it was a newborn child! You'll laugh at this: As I was spooning batter into my sixth muffin liner, I yelped "I forgot the walnuts!" My husband, ever the optimist says: "Don't worry, just stick some in those by hand." The recipe was easy to follow. I chose to buy my dried fruits in bulk and chopped them by hand which took a lot of time but I enjoy that sort of thing. Since I was giving a lot of this fruitcake as gifts, I chose to use a simple syrup instead of alcohol, just in case. Since the fruitcake takes a while to bake, and my kitchen was already a mess, I made lentil soup for dinner. We had the fruitcake for dessert and it was divine.
  • star rating 12/07/2013
  • Shirley Burt from Aledo, Texas
  • Taste, texture and fruit content was fabulous. My husband and I could not wait to taste this wonderful smelling fruitcake. It is the first time we ever ate a slice of fruitcake hot. I have been searching for the perfect fruitcake and now have it. Copies of this recipe is written in several places, just in case I loose one copy. I would add more pecans, but that is just a personal preference. Try it. Be sure to use the candied ginger, I was a doubter, but not any longer.
  • star rating 11/22/2013
  • Bob from Salt Lake,Ut.
  • First time baking this, turn out great, everybody loved it Bob M.
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