Are you a fruitcake lover? Though this traditional holiday cake is often maligned (I guess some people don't like candied fruit?), it's wonderful when well prepared.
This fruitcake is our family's favorite, packed with dates, walnuts, raisins, and glazed cherries. Think raisin bread on steroids. The recipe comes from the wife of a family friend, Patricia, who for years sent us a loaf every Christmas.
We usually have to make at least two loaves—one to eat right away, because we just can't wait, and the other to sprinkle with brandy and save for Christmas day. These loaves also make terrific gifts.
Video: How to Make Holiday Fruitcake
Best Holiday Fruitcake
How to Make Fruitcake
Fruitcake is really just like any other quick bread or loaf cake, only with a lot more fruit and nuts added. You make a simple cake batter, stir in the fruits and nuts, and bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
The resulting cake is dense and looks like a beautiful mosaic when sliced, with fruits and nuts in every bite.
You can sprinkle the cake with liquor (we like brandy), or leave it alcohol-free. The liquor will make the fruitcake more moist, and will help it last longer.
Tips for the Best Fruit Cake
- Toss the fruits and nuts in flour before mixing them into the batter. This will help keep them evenly distributed throughout the cake during baking.
- Place a pan of water in the oven alongside the fruitcake. This makes for more even, gentle cooking.
- It's best to slice this fruitcake with a serrated knife, such as a bread knife.
How Long Does Fruitcake Last?
Fruitcake lasts longer than most other cakes because it is filled with nuts and candied fruit. It will last even longer if you sprinkle it with a spirit like brandy. Just keep it tightly wrapped.
- Without brandy, the cake will last tightly wrapped a week or more.
- With brandy, the cake can last a month or more.
How to Store and Freeze Fruitcake
Cool the fruitcake completely, poke a few holes in the top of the cake and sprinkle it with brandy, if desired. Wrap the loaf tightly with aluminum foil, and store it on the counter.
To freeze, wrap the loaf in plastic and then in aluminum foil. Then, freeze for up to 3 months.
Fruit Cake Variations Suggested by Readers
- Add more sour cream for a moister cake.
- Includes some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger.
- Use almonds or leave out the nuts completely.
- Use dark brown sugar for a darker finish.
- Add whiskey instead of brandy.
- Soak the dry fruits in rum or brandy overnight.
How to Cure Fruitcake With Alcohol
You can age your fruitcake using alcohol as a preservative for about 1 to 3 months. Take about a yard of cheesecloth and soak it in brandy, whisky, bourbon, rum or some other liquor. Then wrap it around your cooked (completely cooled) fruitcake before wrapping it in plastic. Re-soak the cheesecloth about once a month for 6 weeks to 3 months (however long you'd like to age your fruitcake).
Alternately, brush your fruitcake with the liquor of your choice before wrapping it tightly in plastic film. Brush it with more alcohol every few days for the first 2 months of aging.
Store in a cool dry place while curing the fruitcake. Once it's been aged properly, you can eat it right away or refrigerate it for months, even years. When properly cured, the alcohol prevents bacteria from growing.
Aged fruitcake can be frozen, but it oddly lasts longer in the refrigerator once cured.
More Festive Holiday Treats
- How to Make a Gingerbread House
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
- Candy Cane Cookies
Best Holiday Fruitcake
It's best to slice this fruitcake with a serrated knife, such as a bread knife.
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (236ml) full fat sour cream
1 cup (130g) chopped dates
2 cups (280g) raisins
1/2 cup (75g) chopped glazed cherries (can sub dried sweetened cranberries)
1 cup (100g) chopped walnuts
2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour, divided
8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 large egg
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60ml) brandy, optional
Preheat the oven and prepare the pan:
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with greased parchment or brown baking paper. Cut the paper to fit the pan.
Place one piece to run the length of the pan and stand up above the rim about an inch. Place the other piece or pieces to cover the other sides. When the cake comes out of the oven, you can easily remove it by holding the sides of the paper and lifting the cake out of the pan.
Combine the sour cream and baking soda:
In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and sour cream. Set aside.
Toss the fruits and nuts with flour:
Combine the dates, raisins, cherries, and nuts with 1/4 cup (30g) of the flour. Toss to coat the fruit and nuts completely in flour. Set aside.
Make the fruitcake batter:
Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg, then the orange rind, then the sour cream/baking soda mix.
Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups (230g) flour and the salt and mix together. Pour the fruit and nut mixture into the batter and mix well to distribute the fruit and nuts evenly.
Bake the fruitcake:
Scoop the batter into a prepared 5 x 9-inch loaf pan, and press down to even the surface.
Place the pan into the preheated oven. Place a separate pan of water in the oven either on a rack underneath the fruitcake or beside it. (The water make for a more even, gentler cooking.)
Bake at 325°F (160°C) for approximately 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours, or until the internal temperature is between 205°F and 209°F, and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. The water may need to be replenished during baking, if it evaporates.
If the top of the fruitcake is getting too browned as it bakes, tent it with some foil.
Cool on a rack, then, sprinkle with brandy:
Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then, using the edges of the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan, move to a rack to cool completely.
Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum to store.
If you want, poke a few holes over the top of the cake and sprinkle on a few ounces of brandy or bourbon. This will make the fruitcake more moist and will help it last longer.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 12 to 16|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 13g||17%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||27%|
|Total Carbohydrate 50g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||9%|
|Total Sugars 32g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||6%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|