Holiday Fruitcake

Posted by: Ian Beyer  :  Category: dessert, holiday

Fruitcake has gotten a bad rap in our culture, mostly because of inconsiderate jerks gifting some strange industrial bakery concoction that is labeled as “fruitcake” and contains neither fruit, nor is anything a rational persion would consider “cake”.

This stuff is different. The key to a good fruitcake is, unsurprisingly, good fruit. If it’s that candied stuff with food dye in it, forget it. That’s about as fruity as Kool-Aid. For this recipe to shine, use good dried fruits. Good sources for this are places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Natural Grocers, and their ilk. If you get candied tropical fruits like papaya and mango, make sure they’re devoid of junk like food dyes, corn syrup, and other gross stuff.

This is an imprecise process, strict adherence to the recipe is discouraged. Fruitcake is meant to adapt to whatever you have on hand. This particular recipe has been heavily adapted and improved from a recipe found in a 1980 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook  that called for weird-colored fruit.


  • 1 lb all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Approximately 3 pounds of some combination of these:
  • dark raisins
  • golden raisins
  • dried blueberries
  • Craisins
  • papaya (dried or candied)
  • dried mango
  • pineapple (dried or candied)
  • currants
  • dried cherries
  • dates
and 1 pound of nuts, such as:
  • slivered almonds
  • pecan halves
  • walnuts (we omit walnuts due to allergies)

In a bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients, then fruit and nuts, and mix until everything is well coated.


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup molasses

Beat eggs until foamy and gradually add brown sugar. Add orange juice, butter, and molasses and beat until blended. Stir the wet mixture into the fruit mixture. When making a large batch, this is best done by getting your hands good and messy. Scoop into greased loaf pans (you can also line with greased parchment paper) until they’re about 3/4 full.

Bake at 300F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (longer for larger loaf pans, less for mini loaf pans) until cakes test done. After cooling, wrap in cheesecloth soaked in liquor or fruit juice (orange juice works well) and then wrap in foil.

When we make it, we usually do a triple batch, which makes 4 bread pans and 2 large bread pans, or 18 2″x6″ mini-loaf pans and 4 4″x8″ medium loaf pans (when using mini loaf pans, bake for 30-45 min under foil to prevent burning)

A triple batch requires about 2 square yards of cheesecloth and a fifth (750ml) of soaking liquor.

  • Ian B

    Also, if you want to make this gluten-free, the results are good simply by substituting the flour/baking powder/salt with a GF baking mix like Pamela’s.