Fruitcake -- like it, hate it?

denninmi(8a)December 18, 2010

A neighbor gave us a "gourmet" fruitcake complete with a decorative tin from an apparently large bakery in one of the southern states. Supposed to be just wonderful. Well, it's sweet, and semi-attractive on top, with pecans halves and a small handful of red cherries and green pineapple chunks. That's about all I can say for it. It is completely flavorless, and pretty lacking in the way of fruit. Apparently, in order to not impart flavor into this creation, they only basically use a bit of candied pineapple as the fruit inside of the fruitcake.

While I of course thanks the neighbor profusely for this almost $30 with shipping, not quite 2 lb, monument to bland, and I would never want to her to think we didn't enjoy it, probably most of it will go to my chickens.

I find it rather curious that commercial fruitcakes are always SO bad. At least, every one I've ever tried has been. Generally flavorless, often with an overly dry, almost sawdusty texture. Perhaps out there somewhere, a commercial bakery is making wonderful fruitcakes, but if so, I haven't come across one. No wonder fruitcake has such a terrible reputation in this country.

So, who makes their own fruitcake? I do, and quite often I even make the candied fruits myself. Many times, I've used various citrus peels, carefully cleaned, scraped of pith, boiled first to remove the bitterness, rinsed, and then candied in sugar syrup, plus various other dried and candied fruits -- raisins, figs, dates, cherries, pineapple, apricots, prunes, papaya, mango, even cranberries and dried sliced kiwi. And, usually as many kinds of nuts as I can get my hands on, pretty much anything except for peanuts (too common) or chestnuts (wrong type of nut, starchy, not oily, really more like a potato functionally).

I've made various kind of batters over the years, both dark and light, and various flavorings. The "classic" light but still noticeable nutmeg/clove/cinnamon/ginger/allspice blend is my favorite, but other mixes work as well. I did a white "tropical" fruitcake once that included papaya, mango, pineapple, cherries, coconut, macadamias, Brazil nuts, and ginger/cardamom as the predominant spices that was very nice.

If you make a great fruitcake, or even know of one commercially made, please share.

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An old friend of DH's (old Navy man) used to make the best fruitcake. He says he got the recipe from a nun he worked with (became a teacher after retiring from the Navy). I'll have to hunt up the recipe - maybe I'll make it next year. Too late now - requires quite a long time soaking in alcohol (rum? whiskey?) as I recall.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 9:43PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I use an old family recipe which I have modified. The batter is a rich cake calling for 10 eggs and a pound of butter to 4 cups of flour. I use no spices at all, only vanilla (extract and sugar) and a cup of Lyle's.

It is packed with fruit but limited to 4 pounds of candied apricots, 1 pound of candied pineapple and 2 pounds of toasted pecans.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 9:49PM
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What's "Lyle's"?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 9:58PM
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CA Kate

I've never bothered to make fruitcake because I've never eaten one that I cared to ask for the recipe. However, a local baker has the only fruitcake I will ever eat... toally packed with dried fruits and nuts with only enough cake to hold everything together. As a matter of fact it's easiest to cut when really cold -- or even frozen. I will include a link if anyone would care to order. There are 3 varieties, but our favorite is the San Joaquin.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rosetti's

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 11:54PM
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Lyle's is cane syrup (as opposed to corn in the U.S.)

Sometimes called golden syrup.

Used to be the only syrup in the Isles or colonies.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 3:39AM
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I have never had a home made fruit cake. But I agree that all the commercial ones I have tried were terrible. Most we never ate and just wound up throwing out. Chicken feed sounds like a good use for it. At least you will recoop a few eggs.

Commercial Ginger Bread Houses are worse. I have had some sit there for 5 years or more and even the bugs will not eat them. They look like new after sitting out in the open for years. well in the house of course. And you need a hammer and hatchet to chop them up to try to eat them after saying prayers that your teeth do not break!

Memories of the Good Ole Days

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 3:25AM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Fruit cake is disgusting, usually chock full of nasty cheap citrus peel.

I can make a delicious home made fruit cake, but it's almost impossible to get anyone to taste it, because fruit cake is so universally loathed.

If you really want to make one, you start a couple of months before you'll want the cake.

Make a good recipe of all butter pound cake. Mix lots of dried fruit and nuts into the batter.

Bake into loaves, cool, and then soak cheese cloth in either rum or brandy, and don't use the cheap stuff or you'll ruin your cakes.

Wrap the cakes in the soaked cheese cloth, then plastic wrap, and then aluminum foil. Refrigerate and let them cure.

I unwrap and re-soak the cheese cloth about once a month. I've cured cakes for as long as 6 month. The longer they cure, the better they get.

I hate citron, so don't use it. I use dried apricots, a few candied pineapples and candied red cherries for color. I like pecans, but any nut or combnation is good.

You can make an "Hawaiian" cake with dried pineapple, macadamia nuts, and large flake coconut, soaked in rum.

It's beyond me, with the endless jokes about how awful fruit cake is and how everybody hates it, why anyone would give fruit cake as a gift, but apparently, it is a huge seller.

All that fruit cake going into the garbage every year is such a waste.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 3:41PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I agree with the waste of commercial fruit cakes. Tradition gone wrong.

I have had excellent commercial fruitcake (though very seldom). There's a monastery here which makes a very good one. I still prefer mine, but that's just a personal preference, as the monks' is a dark liquor-soaked cake and I prefer what is essentially a fruited poundcake without alcohol.

I've never had anyone refuse to try my fruitcake (barring very young children who are inclined to reject any new food). But people trust if I offer something it will be good.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 6:19PM
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Carol - can you please share your recipe? It would be nice to have a non-alcoholic version that doesn't need to be aged. What if I can't find cane syrup?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 8:08PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Of course. I think I posted it before; we had several wonderful fruitcake threads from 2005-7 or so that have dropped off. Sad, as there were fabulous recipes from members no longer posting.

I will come back online later (perhaps tomorrow) and post the recipe. If you don't have cane syrup that's fine. The original recipe called for corn syrup and you can actually do without it entirely, as its addition to the batter was originally an accident! (But a fortuitous one.)


    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 11:26PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

This is the fruitcake recipe I promised. Here's the original with a few notations:

Betty King's Fruit Cake

This recipe came from an old friend (Betty King) of my husband's mother who got it from Mrs. Durant, so now it's at least three generations old.

I get the candied fruit at Sheridan Fruit Company in Portland in the fall. They carry it in bulk in barrels and it's much better than the pre-packaged kind.

The most important thing with this cake is not to overbake it.

This recipe yields 5 8 1/2x5 loaves or 12 3 1/2x5 or a mixed group of 8 3 1/2x5 loaves, 9 petite loaves and 1 8 1/2x5 (18 loaves of varying sizes). Total yield is 11 1/2 pounds of fruitcake. Recipe can be halved.

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
10 eggs
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pound candied fruit -- (pineapple green)
1 pound candied cherries -- (red)
1 pound candied cherries -- (green)
a little candied fruit -- (pineapple yellow)
4 cups pecans (toasted)
4 cups walnuts (toasted)
1 box dates (8 oz. but I use 1 lb. Medjool dates, also from Sheridan Fruit)
1 box golden raisins
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup light corn syrup

Original recipe just says combine all ingredients and bake. Grease loaf pans and line bottoms with brown paper (I use parchment paper; brown paper bags are recycled
now and contain chemicals). Spray with Pam or grease paper.

To make cake I prep all fruits. Toast nuts in the oven at 325 degrees 6-7 minutes. Don't overdo it. Cream butter and sugar then add eggs a little at a time. This is too much for any but a heavy-duty mixer.

Add vanilla to the batter. Corn syrup can be added to the batter (which I do) or reserved and used for a glaze. To glaze heat syrup to boiling and brush over the baked cakes. Let sit overnight. (Originally the corn syrup was the glaze but Betty accidentally added it to the batter one year and liked the results so well she continued to do that. I use Lyle's Golden Syrup now but have used corn syrup in the past and it's just fine.

Then I add all but 1 cup of the flour to the batter. I reserve the last cup and toss the fruits and nuts in it. Then I stir these in by hand in a giant bowl (or dishpan).

Fill pans about 2/3 full. I smack pans down after filling to remove air and settle the batter.

I bake at 250 degrees (oven not pre-heated) anywhere from 60 minutes for petite pans to as much as 2 hours and 30-35 minutes for a large pan. I rotate pans partway through.

This cake suffers if baked too long. Under-baked is better than over-baked. I remove when a few crumbs stick to a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean it's overdone.

All you can do is monitor and make notes of times for your oven and your pans. It's not necessary, but I keep this cake in the fridge. The texture is better. It also freezes well.

Now I halve the batter. Half gets the mixed fruit original version and half gets the apricot-pineapple-pecan combination (2 pounds candied apricots, 8 ounces candied pineapple, 1 pound toasted pecans).


    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 5:19PM
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Thanks Carol - 2 more ?s:

1. What do you mean by "prep the fruit" (I thought candied fruit came in small pieces)?

2. Do you ever bake this in a larger (like a Bundt) pan, or is it best in small pans? Looking for fancier presentation. I even have a Bundt "cupcake" type pan but those would be more like individual servings.

Not that I'll have time to make this in the next couple of days. I'll dig out Ray's recipe and post it after the holidays, no one will be making that soon since it needs to age.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 10:06AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'm just referring to things like cutting up the dates (since medjool are quite large) and apricots. The candied pineapple I buy is whole rings, so they need cutting up. Of course, they could also be left as is. But I find the cake slices a bit more easily if the big fruits are cut into good-sized pieces. I'm not slicing candied cherries or that sort of thing and what I do cut up is still quite large chunks so the cake looks "stained glass" when it's cut.

I have made this cake in a large pan (angel food), though it's been years. And I've also applied large fruits to the top after and glazed (syrup or honey glaze). All it is is more baking time.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 1:01PM
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Carol, one more question.

Could honey be subbed for the cane/corn syrup?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 6:07AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Yes, you could. Honey is sweeter than corn syrup but stick with the same amount anyway. I don't think the one cup in that big recipe will make that much difference in sweetness. If you have a mild honey, that would be preferable.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 11:46AM
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Our family makes suet pudding (aka plum pudding) for the holidays as is the family tradition for many generations my English/Scot ancestors brought with them when they came to America. It's a boiled pudding very much resembling the fruitcake, but is moist and delicious and likely was the precursor for fruitcakes. It is also like the traditional English wedding cake in texture (that is also a fruitcake, but with marzipan icing). Being raised on this lovely, moist desert, I haven 't found a fruitcake yet I can stomach.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 3:18PM
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I just checked the Sheridan Fruit Company and they don't have any candied fruit sold online. Does anyone have any other places to buy online? The only candied fruit I have found in person are some nasty green cherries at Safeway supermarket, and if I wouldn't want to eat them out of the container, I certainly wouldn't want to waste 2-3 months and all that good liquor on them!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 9:14PM
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I found a couple of places online by doing a search for candied fruit peel. Maybe that's not what you are looking for?

Just wondering, though, why don't you just do you own. It's really pretty simple. Citrus peels need to be washed to remove wax and pesticides (organic is better), boiled to loosed the white pith (except for lime, lemon, and mandarin orange, which are so thin it's not necessary), the pith is scraped off, and then rinsed and boiled in the sugar syrup.

Other fruits just get boiled in sugar syrup.

Not only is it easy, it's actually a LOT cheaper. You can even cheat and use canned fruit to start, saving the washing/peeling/slicing/cutting steps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Google search for Candied Fruit Peel for Sale

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 9:38PM
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david52 Zone 6

We start off in the summer drying our own orchard fruit - cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, and sometimes tart apple. Do that when they're at their flavor peak.

Soak chopped up dried citrus peal, say from Penzy's, in one of those orange liqueurs like Cointreux.

Its a whole other animal.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 10:16AM
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jude31(6 E Tn)

Personally, I think if you've ever been turned off by fruitcake, or other things, for that matter it makes you reluctant to try others. I don't care for all that candied fruit and very little cake. I would think using other kinds of fruit other than candied would be a step in the right direction. And some cake instead of mostly candied fruit compressed into a cake shape. Just my opinion.

I might be tempted to order from Rosetti's because there's no way I would go to the trouble of making one.

I was just given a little one pound fruitcake made in a little town not far from me. I haven't opened it yet, because we have so many sweets already, but the ingredients are:Pecans,glace pineapple and cherries, pure honey, brown sugar, fresh eggs, enriched wheat flour, dates, coconut, pure butter,dark rum, baking powder, spices and salt.
Is glace pineapple and cherries the same thing as candied?


    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 1:43PM
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Yes, "glace" means candied, boiled in a strong sugar syrup until it has absorbed a large amount of sugar and is preserved.

Everyone will have different tastes. We prefer fruitcake that is extremely full of fruit and nuts, with just enough cake batter to make it hold together.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 2:58PM
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I made Carol's recipe on Christmas Eve and it turned out great! Instead of using the prepared fruits, I created my own candied fruit and it really didn't take that long. I parboiled the pieces of fruit in sugar water then dehydrated them partially. I used apples, pears, mangoes, pineapple, oranges and lemons. Drying them to the right consistency took about 3 hours.

I did not add any maraschino cherries because of the red food dye. I didn't have any other cherries but know that Trader Joe's has then dried so I'll use them next time.

The cakes baked for two hours and turned out very nice.

Thanks, Carol!!


    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 10:54AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

That sounds wonderful, Cindy. I'm adding your combination to my recipe notes. I know we really love the natural candied apricot, pineapple, pecan combination, so I'm sure your option would be equally appreciated.

I actually have some candied dark sweet cherries in syrup sitting in the freezer. I always thought they would go well in this recipe.

For those ordering fruits online, be sure you look at the ingredient list. I buy my candied apricots (Australian and wonderful but hideously expensive) from a supplier who sells fruits candied in pure cane sugar syrup. But looking online I saw several brands that were candied in glucose and corn syrup with various preservatives. Clearly there are considerable differences.

I do candy my own fruit but the Australian apricots are better unless we are fortunate enough to get a shipment of really good fruit. Sometimes commercial is the best quality item.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 1:14PM
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Any Good Eats fans here? (It's a cooking show on the food network.)

The "freerange fruitcake" he makes on there is AWESOME. Full of lovely dried fruits: apricots, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, and raisins.

Add to that rum, brandy, pecans, and spices!

I've made it every Xmas since I first saw that episode. In fact, I have some in the house right now. Now I'm craving it. I think I'll have some.

Here is a link that might be useful: Good Eats Fruitcake

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 6:07PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Speaking of Alton Brown, you might also like Clear Creek Distillery's fruitcake. They used to have the recipe on their website but I don't see it now. They're a prize-winning distillery here in Portland which makes European-style eau de vies and liqueurs (Pear Brandy, for instance), all with local products.

You can see their recipe at the link. I also recommend the Clear Creek Cranberry Liqueur. I have plans for that in a Cranberry Sour Cream Pound Cake.


Here is a link that might be useful: Clear Creek Distillery Dried Fruit Cake

    Bookmark   December 28, 2010 at 8:04PM
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Forgot - I also added raisins that were commercially prepared, both dark and light. Yesterday I found organic raisins at Trader Joe's and they will be used next time.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 9:47AM
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I made Carol's recipe for Betty King's recipe for Mrs. Durant's Fruit Cake (whew!! that's a moutful of geneaology). I did the one with just apricots, pineapple and pecans. I rehydrated dried apricots and then glaceed them as well as the pineapple. I should have chopped the apricots before baking but otherwise, it is just wonderful. I love good fruitcake and by this I mean fruitcake with lots of fruit and nuts with very little flour. This is one of the best I've ever had and so far, everyone who tastes it falls in love with it.

I can't wait for next summer so I can glace fresh apricots. In fact, if I find Chilean ones in winter, I'm going to try it again.

thank you for posting the recipe Carol.


P.S. I am going to try the Alton Brown and the Clear Creek ones next.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 4:41PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

We have a new entry in the fruitcake wars this year - Prince George's Christening Cake. See photo. It was also his parent's wedding cake recipe.

Cairns’ Vintage Glamour Wedding Cake

Rich Tamarind Fruit Cake
Makes 25-30 slices

1½ cups candied cherries
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups dark raisins
1¼ cups mixed candied citrus peel
2/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
½ cup dried currants
3 tbsp. molasses
3 tbsp. bitter orange marmalade
1 tsp. tamarind concentrate
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 tbsp. apple pie spice, heaped
9 tbsp. brandy, divided
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1¼ cups self-rising flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1½ cups almond flour
5 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. The day before, rinse the cherries, dry them well with paper towels and cut each in half. In a large bowl, mix the cherries, golden and dark raisins, mixed peel, ginger, currants, molasses, marmalade, tamarind, zests and apple pie spice. Pour in 6 tbsp. brandy, stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight.

2. The next day, preheat oven to 275F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with brown paper and tie with string, to protect the cake from scorching in the oven.

3. Spread the walnuts and almonds on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven, shaking once. Cool slightly, chop coarsely and set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugar until it turns pale and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Add the ground almonds, then gradually add the eggs, mixing well between each addition. Fold in the flour with a large metal spoon and then add the soaked fruits (and any liquid) and nuts.

5. Spread the batter into the pan. Bake on an oven rack in the lower third of the oven until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 2½-3 hours. If the cake begins to brown too much before it is fully cooked, make a circle of foil a bit larger than the cake, pierce a hole in the center and open it up, then place the foil over the pan.

6. Let cake cool in the pan. Pierce all over with a wooden toothpick and evenly sprinkle over the remaining 3 tablespoons brandy. Remove from the pan and discard the paper. Wrap in fresh parchment paper, then aluminum foil, and let stand for a week, or up to three months. If desired, unwrap every other week and sprinkle with 1 tsp. brandy for extra succulence and booziness!

Reprinted from Fiona Cairns Rodale cookbook Bake & Decorate.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 6:29PM
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Sounds wonderful, Dave. I love the idea of using tamarind and marmalade. But I like to have a lot of other kinds of fruits in it as well. Gonna try adding those ingredients to a more traditional fruit cake recipe,.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 7:52PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

It's always nice to see something different for inspiration. I'm not a fan of mixed peel (actually I loathe it, especially citron) but there's lots of latitude to change that anyway.

The tamarind is interesting. I've only used it in savory recipes and never even thought of it for baking.

Thanks for sharing.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2013 at 8:24PM
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kathy_in_washington(Zone 8 Sequim,WA)

Carol, I would like to try the variation you've mentioned in the recipe you posted three years ago, but I'm confused about something.

You mentioned eliminating the fruit, but I don't know if you also included the dates, etc.

What you wrote was: "Now I halve the batter. Half gets the mixed fruit original version and half gets the apricot-pineapple-pecan combination (2 pounds candied apricots, 8 ounces candied pineapple, 1 pound toasted pecans)."

I'd like very much to try something like this, but just need a clear idea of which fruits you included in this version.

Thank you so much. Kathy

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 2:20PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

In all this discussion I'm not surprised you're confused. This may be a little clearer:

1 pound butter
2 cups sugar (vanilla sugar)
10 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup
4 cups flour (bleached used previously)
2 teaspoons baking powder

Fruit Mixture #1 (for half batter recipe)
8 ounces candied pineapple (yellow)
8 ounces candied cherries (red)
8 ounces candied cherries (green)
8 ounces pecans
8 ounces walnuts
8 ounces pitted dates (Medjool - weighed after pitting)
8 ounces golden raisins

Fruit Mixture #2 (for half batter recipe)
2 pounds candied apricots
8 ounces candied pineapple
1 pound pecans

As you can see I didn't use dates in the light fruit batch (#2) because I didn't want the dark color when it was sliced. I also wanted a more "tropical" flavor. However, I love dates and I'm sure subbing dates for some of the apricots would be excellent also. Not to mention those apricots are hideously expensive.

I hope this helps.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Pardon me if this is inappropriate for a fruit cake, but can prunes be substituted for the dates? I have prunes I bought in April that should be used.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 5:17PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

How would that be inappropriate?

I think you could substitute anything you are inclined to use. My mother had a fruitcake recipe that included prune butter as one of the ingredients (among what seemed like hundreds). There's no sense getting too hidebound about these things. Who knows what you'll discover.

The flavors will be considerably different and I'd probably look for a different fruitcake batter if I used prunes. (Just my preference.) I think of prunes with a darker base batter, even a spiced one, maybe a fruitcake that calls for some Armagnac or other alcohol.

For example, take a look at the fruitcake I've linked to.


Here is a link that might be useful: Nigella's Killer Fruitcake

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

In theory any dried fruit could be used. What it would do to the flavor of the cake is somethings else. Personally I wouldn't care to use many prunes given their flavor and side effects.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sheila - prunes freeze well if needed.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 7:57PM
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I never have prunes leftover, my family loves them.

As long as we are within limits, that's how we get new items.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Well, I wonder about the effects Dave alluded to - we used to give DS prune juice mixed in with his OJ when he was little. And I know prunes taste different from dates, but thought a little bit would be good with a spiced batter like Carol mentioned, I know prune butter is used in baking (Ellie Topp even has recipe for prune butter, but using the fresh ones).

I bought these to make Chicken Marbella in April and haven't used them since. Funny, DS (or someone) opened a bag of white chocolate chips (and didn't close it) and left it in the pantry, I had to write "For Jelly, not for Snacking!" on the last bag of dried apricots I bought but no one's touched the prunes ;-)

Thanks for the recipe Carol - I'll have to dig out the one DH's friend got from the nun that I never posted years ago. Someone might actually have time to make it this year!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:29PM
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kathy_in_washington(Zone 8 Sequim,WA)

Carol, thank you for the explanation. When I read it, I saw that you wrote "candied apricots." I had been reading (in my head) "dried apricots." I didn't know there was such a thing as candied ones. I hope you meant to say dried, because that's what I have, and that's what I was going to use. I'm not sure I've ever seen candied ones available.

In Hawaii, where I'm from, we had a fruitcake called a "Happy Cake" that was originally sold at a tiny bakery and restaurant named Kemoo Farm near the small town of Wahiawa on Oahu. That dense, light-colored "fruitcake" is cooked with only pineapple, macadamia nuts, and coconut. It's pricey (of course!) at $20/lb, plus postage, but delicious. My family usually mail me one or two every year -- and I don't share it with anyone who doesn't LOVE it!

Hopefully I can try and replicate this recipe. I think I'll try making your recipe, Carol -- and do half in the traditional method and half with the lighter colored fruits (and maybe some coconut -- although they use fresh grated coconut there, not commercially made sweetened).

The recipe's a large investment (time and $$), but it might be something I'll just love! Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:43PM
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OK, I dug out my old recipe box with the newspaper clippings and index cards, here's Ray's Christmas Cake:

4 eggs
1C flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 lb dates
1/2 lb crystallized (candied) cherries
1/2 lb crystallized pineapple
1C sugar
1 lb pecans

1. Beat egg yolks. Add sugar, then flour, baking powder & vanilla.
2. Beat egg whites stiff with a pinch of salt. Add yolk mixture.
3. Cut the pineapple into pieces, then add all the fruit and nuts to the batter.

4. Cook 2 hours at 250F in a well greased pan. (If I recall correctly, he made this in a Bundt pan)

No mention of alcohol! But I just asked DH, he remembers a lot of rum too, I'm not sure how long/often to add it but I think you're supposed to soak the cake in rum in a tin or some other airtight container for about a month?

Maybe it was b/c it was moist, not hard and dry like commercial fruitcake, maybe it was the rum (we were young then), but DH and I thought this was the best holiday dessert we ever had. And then I never made it (probably b/c I thought the pineapple and cherries were too expensive, or too sugary,loaded with artificial ingredients, after I started eating "healthy").

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 9:00PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Those are glace (candied) apricots. Made with natural cane sugar, not corn syrup. That's why they're so hideously expensive.

However, I'm totally behind whatever alterations people want to make. Recipes are meant to be shared and meant to be individualized.

When I said prune butter in my mother's recipe I meant prune butter like apple butter, made with fresh Italian prunes, not the European lekvar. So kind of like an applesauce cake but with prunes instead.

If you're interested in a Hawaiian or Caribbean style white fruitcake you might like to look at this recipe from King Arthur Flour. I made it as mini-bundts last year for gifting. They also have a Coconut Rum Cake on the site. I'd have to check my notes. I think I added canned pineapple to that recipe.

There's also an intriguing one on Epicurious. I haven't made that one in a while but for dried fruit lovers check this ingredient list for Golden Fruitcake:

1 package marzipan (7 ounce) cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups chopped dried Calimyrna figs (about 6 ounces)
3 cups chopped dried pears, dried apricots and pitted dates , combined (about 15 ounces total)
1 cup golden raisins (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup brandy (Christian Brothers)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks) room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup golden brown sugar (packed)
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups all purpose flour, bleached
1 1/2 cups pine nuts , toasted (about 6 ounces)

All these cakes I've baked at one time or another. All freeze beautifully and well-wrapped keep almost indefinitely.


Here is a link that might be useful: Taste of the Tropics Fruitcake

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 10:07PM
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I happened to be sifting through old computer files today and found two recipes I had saved from the old fruitcake posts.

RE: Church of the Besotted Fruitcake

* Posted by: Readinglady z8 OR (My Page) on Sat, Oct 8, 05 at 22:29

Here's the recipe from that thread with her comments. (We actually ended up with two lengthy fruitcake threads, as I remember.) I don't think we've heard from Mrs. Bartholomew for a while. Hopefully she returns as fruitcake season moves into full swing.

"Here is the recipe I use for Christmas fruitcake - more or less, anyway, because I tend to use different types and proportions of fruits and nuts each year. I candy my own pineapple, angelica, and cherries, but you can use store-bought and give them a good rinse to get the extra sugar off before you use them. Makes two large loaves.

1/2 to 3/4 litre white rum
1 pound candied cherries (substitute angelica for a handful of the cherries, if you have it)
3/4 pound candied pineapple
1/4 pound candied citrus peel
1 pound large sultanas
1/2 pound blanched whole almonds
1/2 pound walnut halves
1 pound unsalted butter, softened
2 and 1/4 cups of sugar
6 large eggs
4 cups of white cake flour (not self-raising)
1/4 cup lemon extract

Warm 1/2 litre of the rum until it seems just about to boil, and immediately remove it from the heat. Soak the cherries, pineapple, citrus peel, sultanas, angelica and nuts in the rum overnight. Strain, reserving the rum, and set the fruits and nuts aside in a very large mixing bowl.

(You don't have to heat the rum up if it's too much trouble, but it soaks into the fruit much better if it's warm).

Beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in half of the eggs, then half the flour, then the rest of the eggs, then the rest of the flour, then the lemon extract. Pour the batter over the fruit and nuts and stir well.

If your loaf pans are non-stick, just butter them. I use a stick of butter like a crayon to do this. Otherwise, line with buttered parchment paper. Scrape the batter into the pans. Bake in a preheated 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes, then cover the pans with foil and bake for another 45 minutes. Watch carefully near the end of the cooking time; as soon as the cakes start to pull away from the edges, or resist when you poke them gently, they are ready. It is better to underbake than overbake.

Let them rest on a rack until they've cooled to room temperature.

When the cakes have cooled but are still in the tins, carefully poke several holes through each loaf with a long, thin skewer. Heat the reserved rum - again not letting it quite boil - and drizzle it over the cakes. If the fruit and nuts soaked up most of the rum, add another 1/4 litre of rum before heating it. Leave it for 15 minutes so that the rum will more or less soak through the cakes, although some may still remain in the bottom of the tins when you remove the cakes.

Wrap each cake carefully for storage. If you have large enough linen pudding-bags, you can lightly moisten these with rum and slip a cake inside each one. Otherwise, you can wrap the cakes in the brown paper they were baked in, which should be thoroughly permeated with the rum. Whether you've used cloth or brown paper, wrap the cakes in another layer of plastic wrap or tuck them into a plastic bag for further protection.

The longer you leave the cakes before serving, the better. If you won't be able to resist tasting, pour a little of the batter into a ramekin to bake it separately and eat it while you're wrapping the other two cakes."

I can see I need to buy the ingredients soon. Just reading the recipe makes my mouth water.



It's Fruitcake Time Again!
Posted by gardengrl Orlando (My Page) on Thu, Oct 6, 05 at 9:03

Hi Everyone,

If you remember last year at this time, the Harvest forum had quite a thread going on fruitcakes. Well, last year I made two versions from posted recipes and they were the BEST! I call them "rum cakes" in order to avoid the fruitcake stigma. :-)

I made my cakes in October (both a dark cake and a yellow cake), refridgerated them (since I'm in the south), and "basted" them every week with whatever version of alcohol I wanted. They were a hit during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So, go raid your liquor cabinet gang; it's fruitcake time!
Here are two recipes from last year; both recipes make 2 fruitcake loaves when baked in a typical loaf pan. I've modified my versions a little from the original recipes.

Dark Fruitcake

Approximately 25 ounces of golden raisins (add more or less to your preference)
2 cups coarsly chopped walnuts or pecans
2 1/4 cups sifted, all purpose flour
1 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
5 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each, cloves and mace (nutmeg)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup blackberry jam or preserves

Optional: Place raisins and nuts in a glass bowl or pan and cover with dark rum or brandy. Allow to soak 24 hours. Drain and reserve the used liquor when finished.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Mix flour with salt, baking soda, and spices, set aside. Cream shortening or butter until fluffy; Gradually add sugar and molasses. Beat in eggs, add flour mixture in increments until well mixed. Stir in raisins, nuts, orange juice and jam.

Line loaf pans with parchment paper. Spray parchment with non-stick spray. Pour batter evenly into two loaf pans and bake approximately 3 1/2 hours (or until toothpick inserted comes out clean). It really depends on how deep you pour the batter.

When done, take cakes out of oven, allow to cool for approximately 5-10 minutes. Invert loaf pans, remove cakes, and allow to cool on cooling racks. When cool, take a toothpick and poke holes into the top and bottom of fruitcake. Baste fruitcake with raisin infused rum/brandy, allowing liquor to soak into holes.

If your in the south, place cakes in an airtight container and store in the fridge. If up north in a cool environment, wrap cakes in wax paper followed by tin foil, and store in a cool place. Baste cakes with raisin liquor or other dark liquor every week until the holidays.

Yellow Fruitcake

White rum: optional

1 to 1 1/2 pounds of candied or dried fruit. I use a "harvest mixture" of dried fruit from Sams, which includes dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried strawberris, and dried blueberries.

1/2 pound of nuts (your choice, more or less nuts to your preference)
1 pound unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
6 large eggs
4 cups of white cake flour (not self rising)
1/4 cup lemon extract

Warm rum in a saucepan or microwave until it is just about to boil. If you don't want alcohol, feel free to use a juice of your choice. Place fruit and nuts in a large bowl or pan and pour hot rum/liquid over. Soak overnight, drain fruit and reserve the used liquor when finished.

Preheat oven 300 degrees

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in half the eggs, then half the flour, then the rest of the eggs, then the rest of the flour. Add lemon extract. Stir in soaked fruit and nuts.

Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper. Spray paper with non-stick spray. Pour batter evenly into both pans. Bake cakes uncovered for 45 minutes, then cover with tin foil and bake another 45 minutes. Watch carefully near the end of cooking time; as soon as the cakes start to pull away from the edges of the pans, or resist when you poke them gently, they are ready. It's better to underbake than overbake. Remove cakes from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Invert loaf pans, remove cakes, and allow to completely cool on cooling racks.

Follow basting and storing process as listed for the dark cakes (basting with alcohol optional, you can use fruit juice). Use the reserved dried fruit infused liquor for basting. I alternate basting with Grand Mariner (sp?) every week.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 4:38PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)


To me, it has TOO MANY ingredients. I like to prepare things with the least number of ingredients that also taste good.
And also it has TOO MUCH CHOLESTEROL and calories. I have to watch for this more than Listeria.
But I can imaging that it must be tasty, as does any FATTY and sweet things do.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 4:58PM
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seysonn - why don't you try Ray's Christmas Cake then? It has only 3 kinds of fruit, 1 kind of nut, no butter, and very little sugar (except was is in the candied fruit). Of course, I don't know if you're restricted on alcohol, the rum does really add a lot IMHO.

Not that it's diet food...

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 5:17PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

ajsmama ... thanks. that sound good. I will look into that one. I like the nuts and fruits. But I have to watch for my cholesterol. I eate very little butter and eggs. A little alcohol is fine.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 5:35PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

For those with dietary restrictions, consider dried fruit in a war cake base. (Sometimes called Depression cake.) Those comprise a whole category of eggless, butterless, milkless cakes. Generally they're also low in refined sugar, relying upon molasses or other sweeteners. Many call for dried fruit, usually raisins or prunes, and a measure of spices. Some are also gluten-free to avoid wheat shortages in wartime.

I have to say many of these old recipes are (relatively) healthy and taste darned good. Often they also qualify as Vegan, which can be useful depending upon your own diet or that of your friends.

The one at the link is typical. A search would yield many many variations.


Here is a link that might be useful: Christmas War Cake

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 7:50PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I meant to add that Fruitcakes (love 'em or hate 'em) are supposed to be rich with lots of different ingredients. Historically fruitcakes were a celebration of abundance served at the least abundant time of the year. People of lesser means saved up to afford the pricey ingredients. Fruitcakes were a luxury good.

And, of course, they are meant to be eaten sparingly in small amounts. Definitely not a binge food.

Now if I were still working the way I did when I was young, I could eat anything I want. My family cooked with lard, consumed home-fried chicken every Sunday, ate all steaks chicken-fried and had bacon or local cured sausages every day. We drank whole milk and slathered our own butter on toast topped generously with big spoonfuls of jam. Pies or cakes were almost always available.

And my grandfather lived at home till he was 107 while my father died in his 90's. But then we were out in the fields from sunup and when you've weeded and picked and carried irrigation pipe and milked the cows, you can eat pretty much whatever you want.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Southern Supreme Fruitcake from Bear Creek, NC. Love it!! Order from their website.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2014 at 10:14AM
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