Fruit cake is a classic holiday dessert that you’re going to love! With this recipe, you’ll get a moist, flavorful treat every time!
Amazing Holiday Fruitcake Recipe
I’m going to be honest here. I don’t get the hate for fruit cake! If made properly, fruit cake can compete with the best of them. Get the idea that fruit cake is hard and flavorless out of your head! At its core, fruit cake is just a quick bread with more mix-ins added. It can be as soft, moist, and wonderful as your favorite banana bread! This tasty fruit cake has a melt-in-your-mouth brown sugar bread base. From there, you add in all of your favorite fillings! From dates to dried pineapple, raisins to cherries, the sky is the limit! The best part of it all is that you can soak them all in your favorite liquor for added flavor! This recipe is easily customizable.
I’ve been making this fruit cake for friends, family, and neighbors and they have all been loving it! It’s a great way to spread a little holiday cheer. Delicious, too! Once you take a bite of this cake filled with the flavors of caramelized brown sugar, zesty citrus, and rich fruit, you’ll be hooked! There’s a reason it’s been hanging around since ancient times! This rustic recipe is incredible and bursting with so much flavor. Let’s make some fruit cake!
Fruit Cake Ingredients
This ingredient list is on the longer side, but the good news is most of them are mix-ins! Not a fan of some of them? You can easily swap them out for other toppings or omit them entirely. See my tips below for more suggestions on what to add to your fruit cake!
- All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour has a low protein content so it’s good for keeping your fruitcake on the lighter side. Flours with too much protein will make it hard and dense.
- Baking Soda and Baking Powder: A combination of both is necessary for a fruit cake that raises properly.
- Salt: Added to enhance all flavors!
- Unsalted Butter Unsalted, room temperature butter will mix into your dough perfectly and add a rich flavor.
- Granulated Sugar and Dark Brown Sugar: I like using a mix of granulated and dark brown sugar in my fruit cake. Granulated for sweetness, dark brown sugar for a deeper flavor. They’ll give you the best caramelized flavor when baked.
- Sour Cream: The secret ingredient for moist cake and a hint of tangy flavor!
- Egg: Used to bind everything together. Make sure it’s room temperature! It will mix together more smoothly.
- Lemon and Orange Zest: I love adding citrus zest to balance out sweetness. It’s nice and aromatic, too!
- Finely Diced Crystalized Ginger: Crystalized, or “candied” ginger is going to give your cake a sweet flavor with a hint of spice. Perfect for the holidays!
- Liquor: Traditionally, dark rum or brandy is used. You can also substitute for apple juice or orange juice if you don’t want to use alcohol.
- Glazed Cherries: Also known as candied or maraschino cherries, these are a wonderful addition to your sweet cake!
- Chopped Dates: Dates are sweet and moist with an almost caramel-y flavor. Perfect for a sweet bread!
- Golden and Dark Raisins: I like using a mix of golden and dark raisins. It not only gives your bread more color, but tastes great, too! Golden raisins are tart while dark raisins are rich. They make a great combination!
- Dried Pineapple: Sweet and tangy, dried pineapple adds a great flavor and texture to your bread.
- Chopped Nuts: I love using a blend of almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
How to Make the Best Fruit Cake
You’re going to love how simple it is to make this fruity treat! Just a few minutes of prep and then it’s hands-off in the oven! I love anything that will put a little time back into my day. Especially around the holidays! But be warned: this fruit cake smells absolutely divine when it’s baking and may give you a case of Christmas cheer!
- Soak Toppings: (Optional) Prepare at least 24 hours before baking by soaking your dried fruit mixture in dark rum or brandy. If you prefer the cake to be non alcoholic, you can use apple juice or orange juice instead. Use enough to cover all the fruit completely. Cover and let soak overnight, or even several days.
- Preheat Oven, Prep Pan: Next, preheat the oven to 325° fahrenheit and line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Mix in Remaining Ingredients: In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the sour cream. Mix until combined.
- Add Egg and Citrus Zest: Add the egg, lemon zest, and orange zest and mix until combined. Then, add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until just barely combined.
- Mix in Nuts, Fruit, and Ginger: Next, mix in the crystalized ginger, chopped nuts and the soaked fruit along with any leftover liquid from the fruit. Fold in by hand until everything is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
- Bake: Pour the batter into your prepared pan and place on the middle rack of the oven to bake. Bake for 1 ½-2 hours—until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.
- Cool: Let the cake cool for about 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling the rest of the way on a cooling rack.
- Wrap and Age: (Optional) If you would like to age the cake, soak cheesecloth in brandy or dark rum and wrap well around the cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and store in an airtight container in a dark place. Rewrap the cake in freshly soaked cheesecloth every week until serving. It will keep for months as you continue to age it!
Tips for Making Fruit Cake
This essential holiday dessert can be enhanced with just a few simple tips and tricks! Really, making a successful fruit cake is so easy and delicious! You’ll want to keep this recipe on repeat over the next couple of months.
- Toss in Flour: To ensure that your mix-ins don’t sink to the bottom of your loaf pan, toss them with a bit of flour before adding to your batter!
- Adding Spice: To add even more flavor to this tasty dessert, sometimes I’ll throw in homemade pumpkin pie spice to the batter. This combination of warm spices definitely checks the boxes on that perfect holiday flavor!
- Adding Applesauce: If you struggle to get your fruit cake to retain moisture, add a dollop of applesauce to your batter!
- Use a Serrated Knife: Because fruit cake can be on the crumbly side, it’s best to use a serrated knife for nice, uniform slices.
- More Mix-ins: More toppings that taste absolutely delicious in this recipe are: cranberries, figs, dried apricots, plums, prunes, cashews, coconut and blueberries! Mix and match to create the perfect fruit cake for you!
The great thing about fruit cake is that it has a longer shelf life than most desserts! Here’s how to store it for best results. You’ll love coming back for a slice this holiday season!
- At Room Temperature: This is my personal favorite way to store fruit cake. Wrap in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It will stay good for up to 1 month. I’ve found that storing at room temperature helps to retain moisture and keep it from getting too hard and dense.
- In the Refrigerator: Fruit cake will last in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 6 months. Note: the longer it stays in the fridge, the harder it will become. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
- In the Freezer: A fruit cake will last in the freezer for up to a year when properly sealed in a freezer safe bag. Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
- 3/4 Cup Chopped Dates
- 1 Cup Golden Raisins
- 1 Cup Dark Raisins
- ¾ Cup Chopped Glazed Cherries
- 1 Cup Chopped Dried Pineapple
- ¾ cup dark rum or brandy apple juice or orange juice if don’t want to use alcohol
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup Unsalted Butter room temperature
- ½ Cup granulated Sugar
- ½ Cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
- 1 Tablespoon Orange zest
- 2 Tablespoons Finely Diced Crystalized Ginger
- ½ Cup Chopped nuts Almonds, Walnuts, or pecans
Prepare at least 24 hours before baking by soaking your dried fruit mixture in dark rum or brandy. If you prefer the cake to be non-alcoholic, you can use apple juice or orange juice instead. Use enough to cover all the fruit completely. Cover and let soak overnight, or even for several days.
Preheat the oven to 325° and line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Add the egg, lemon zest, and orange zest and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until just barely combined.
Add the crystallized ginger, chopped nuts, and the soaked fruit along with any leftover liquid from the fruit. Fold in by hand until everything is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan and place it on the middle rack of the oven to bake. Bake for 1 ½-2 hours—until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf.
Let the cake cool for about 10-15 minutes before removing it from the pan and cooling the rest of the way on a cooling rack.
If you would like to age the cake, soak the cheesecloth in brandy or dark rum and wrap well around the cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and store in an airtight container in a dark place. Rewrap the cake in freshly soaked cheesecloth every week until serving. It will keep for months as you continue to age it!
The Recipe Critic