My modern fruitcake recipe is just plain epic, I don’t think I’ve ever packed so much flavor into one cake in my life ~ it’s beautiful, boozy, and delicious. Let the holiday baking begin!
a modern take on fruitcake!
This glorious Christmas fruitcake will be the centerpiece of my holiday brunch this year ~ every slice is a little work of art.
Everybody needs a great Christmas cake in their repertoire, and if you’ve avoided the whole subject because it conjures up ugly memories of traditional doorstop fruitcakes, think again. This is the upgraded version. With 7 (count ’em!) cups of fruit and nuts folded into the light batter, it’s unlike any cake I’ve made in recent memory. Not to mention that those dried fruits are soaked in a brandy/Amaretto mixture first. Have I got your attention now?
This fruitcake recipe is the best I’ve ever tasted.
This cake is truly grand, and it serves a ton of holiday revelers. (The cake is so dense that you can slice it super thin.) There are subtle differences that set it apart from the traditional fruitcake everybody loves to hate. Classic fruitcake is made solely with candied fruit, including citron and candied citrus peel that can be quite bitter. For my updated fruitcake I use mostly dried fruit, along with some candied fruit to give it that recognizable flavor. It’s a lovely combo of a classic pound cake with those wonderful seasonal flavors that you’ll instantly recognize after one bite.
The mixture of dried fruit for my fruitcake
- jumbo golden raisins
I also use mixed candied fruit and, of course, and those big bright candied cherries are a must! The candied cherries really make this cake pop and give it such a festive appeal, so don’t skip them.
about the dried fruits…
There’s a world of difference between premium dried fruit and the box that’s been buried at the back of the cupboard since last year.
I love to buy mine at the farmers market where I can get really fresh, plump, colorful varieties. Supermarkets stock lots of premium dried fruit during the holidays, so keep an eye out for it. Trader Joe’s carries lots, too. If you see it in bulk bins that’s perfect because you can buy just what you need. But I’m all in favor of keeping a good supply on hand year round, I use it for making chunky granolas, for fruit and nut breads, epic cheese boards, or just snacking.
what alcohol is best for Christmas fruitcake?
This updated fruitcake is boozy, but not too boozy…while traditional fruitcake is soaked in spirits over a long period of time, this updated version takes a more subtle approach.
- Amaretto (my fave)
- Orange liqueur like Grand Marnier
In this recipe I use a combination of brandy and Amaretto. Why the combo? I didn’t have enough of either in the liquor cabinet, so I got creative. The fruit soaks in a good dose of spirits, and it ends up being a very subtle hint of flavor, not strong at all. Very different from classic holiday fruitcakes that overdo the hard stuff.
This is one BIG cake
And it takes time to bake…up to 90 minutes, to be exact. Set the oven to 325F so it can bake slowly and not over cook on the edges while that all important center gets done. You can tent it with foil towards the end if it seems to be browning too quickly.
How to get a bundt cake out of the pan (in one piece)
Make sure you have a new-ish non-stick pan that you care for properly (no dishwasher, harsh abrasives, or metal tools) and make sure you buttered and floured it first.
- Let cool 15 minutes after baking, but no longer. Set the timer.
- Loosen all the edges, and especially around the middle tube, with a thin offset spatula or similar blunt flexible knife.
- Place a large plate or platter over the top of the bundt and then flip the pan and plate over in one swift sure motion.
- Rap sharply on the outside of the pan with a rolling pin and then try to lift the pan straight up. If you feel it sticking, bang on it some more. Wiggle and jiggle the pan until it releases.
The fruitcake cake gets brushed with a sweet orange syrup while still warm, and then after it has cooled completely gets a glossy icing for an extra layer of sweetness. Isn’t it pretty?
related: Fruitcake Shortbread Cookies
the Great Island kitchen recommends: a basic bundt pan
Bundt pans come in all sorts of wonderful shapes and sizes, which is great, except that you never know how your pan is going to work with a specific recipe. I like to use this classic 10 cup pan from Wilton which is a basic, all purpose pan that’s sturdy, nonstick, and a standard size.
There’s a time and place for intricate shapes, but the streamlined design of this pan will never let you down, and always releases the cake perfectly.
Can you make this Christmas fruitcake in loaf pans?
Yes, it works perfectly in loaf pans!
- For standard 9×5 loaf pans you’ll bake for about 50 minutes, but check on the early side, the cake should be golden and a toothpick should come out without wet batter.
- For mini loaves, fill each 3/4 full and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Can fruitcake be frozen?
- Yes, it will freeze beautifully. Let it cool completely, then wrap in plastic, and again in foil. Don’t add the glaze until you’ve thawed.
Can you make this without alcohol?
Yes, if you don’t do alcohol you can substitute fruit juice. Orange juice is already in the recipe, so you can use that, or another like pineapple.
- 10-12 cup non stick bundt pan buy the one I use, here.
- 3 cups mixed dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, figs, plums, golden raisins, currants)
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1/4 cup Amaretto
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp orange oil, orange extract, or Fiori di Sicilia (I used tangerine oil)
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 cups chopped pecans and walnuts
- 8 ounce tub of candied cherries
- 1 cup mixed candied fruit, finely diced
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- half and half or milk to thin
- Preheat oven to 325F and butter and flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan. Be sure to get all the nooks and crannies so your cake will release well.
- Put the dried fruits in a microwave safe bowl and stir in the brandy and Amaretto. Microwave for 90 seconds and stir again. Let cool on the counter while you continue with the cake.
- Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the baking powder, salt, and orange oil or extract of your choice.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, letting each one get incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Blend in the flour and orange juice alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is fully blended.
- Fold in the soaked fruit (don't drain) the candied fruits, and nuts.
- Spoon the batter into your pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for about 70-90 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out without wet batter on it. If the surface seems to be browning too quickly, loosely lay a piece of foil over the top toward the end of the baking time.
- Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate. Whisk the syrup ingredients together and brush it over the entire surface of the warm cake. Let cool completely and then wrap well in plastic and set aside for 24 hours at room temperature.
make the icing
- Mix the confectioner's sugar with just enough half and half or milk to make a thick glaze. Start with 3 tablespoons, stir well, and go from there. Add just a little at a time and stir well. I like to let the glaze sit for a few minutes to allow any lumps to dissolve. Spoon the glaze over the surface of the cake, and then let harden before slicing.