I’m kicking off my celebration of 2021 holiday baking with the ever-popular (in some quarters, at least) classic Fruity Boozy Fruitcake. This recipe from the Urban Cottage will help you celebrate a Merry Christmas or whatever festivities you observe in style. And of course this extends to good wishes for the New Year as well. It’s time to make that fruitcake now or very soon! You can make it up to three weeks before your celebration, and I may have rashly made it only two weeks ahead before. But it’s better the longer it ripens (up to a year), and you can enjoy it throughout the year.
Fruitcake: Love It or … Not?
Fruitcake. It seems you either love it or hate it. If you hate it, you make jokes about it. But if you love it, and especially if you’re a fan of a dark, fragrant cake filled to bursting with delicious dried fruits and two kinds of nuts, bathed in boozy goodness, then I think you’ll love this Fruity, Boozy Fruitcake.
Despite all the jokes and derision, I know there are many fruitcake and fruit bread lovers out there, as this round-up of recipes from Canadian food bloggers proves. (And you just might see my recipe in it!).
A Holiday Signature
I first made fruitcake just over twenty years ago and it’s become a signature sign of the holidays for me. You can keep it tightly sealed in a cool, dry place for up to a year (and it can be frozen after that), so it makes sense to make it ahead. In fact, it’s preferable that it has some time to ripen so it mellows and tastes even better. That’s important for this fruity, boozy version.
Despite the title, you don’t need to use booze for a delicious fruitcake. Instead of rum, you can use fruit juice in the cake batter (I think apple or cranberry juice would work well). And you can skip the process of soaking the cake afterwards. Since the alcohol serves as a preservative, any fruitcake made without it should be tightly wrapped and frozen after several days. See this article to learn more.
Every year I intend to make my fruitcake well in advance, but that usually doesn’t happen. This year, I made it three weeks before Christmas and while it could benefit from further mellowing, it’s still delicious. Next year, I think I should make it in June, and it will be pretty amazing by the time Christmas rolls around. (Ahem, I may have said that in years past, too!)
On the other hand, you can enjoy this decadent treat year-round — why wait until Christmas?
Let’s Get Baking Fruity Boozy Fruitcake!
I started out by making the Extra-Fruity Dark Fruitcake recipe from The Canadian Living Christmas Book © 1993, and over the years have evolved the recipe to suit my tastes. Gone are the neon red and green candied cherries, replaced by dried sour cherries. I've added tart dried cranberries and almonds to the mix as well, and sometimes use the crabapple jelly I preserve myself instead of the red currant jelly called for in the original recipe. I like to use rum in my fruitcake; most years it's dark rum (my preference), but I've also used golden Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum. No doubt I'll continue to play around with the recipe; the important thing is to keep the proportion of fruit and nuts to batter roughly the same.
- 2-1/2 cups golden raisins
- 1-1/2 cups Thompson raisins dark seedless
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (preferably sweetened with apple juice and still tart)
- 1-1/4 cup dried sour cherries
- 1 cup coarsely chopped candied pineapple
- 3/4 cup currants
- 2/3 cup chopped candied peel mix
- 1/3 cup dark or golden rum (or brandy, sherry or fruit juice*)
- 1-3/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup crabapple jelly (or red current jelly)
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup pecan halves
- 3/4 cup whole almonds (skin on)
- Optional: more rum for soaking once the cake is baked. (See direcrtions below.)
First, combine all the fruits, including the peel, in a bowl and stir in the rum. Cover and let the fruits enjoy their boozy bath overnight, with the occasional stir. See, it’s smelling good already in the kitchen and you just got started!
The next day, pre-heat the oven to 300℉ and prepare a 9″ x 13″ pan by greasing it and lining it with parchment paper. Put a kettle on to boil and have another baking dish on standby.
Mix together the flour, salt, and spices. Toss about 1/2 cup with the raisin mixture to keep all the fruity goodness from sticking together.
Cream the butter, sugar and jelly together until light, then add the almond extract and beat in the eggs individually. Now it’s time to stir in the flour. Once incorporated, you’re at the really exciting part: stirring in the fruit mixture and nuts. You might think there’s not enough batter to take in all those goodies, but there is! Just keep stirring until everything is well incorporated.
Carefully spread the batter in the prepared pan, getting it as even as possible. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring any air bubbles to the surface. Cover the pan loosely with foil, shiny side out and slide onto the middle rack of the oven. Put a dish of boiling water on the bottom rack and bake for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.
I let the cake cool in the pan, then (OPTIONAL) skewer it all over over and carefully and evenly pour over about a 1/4 cup of rum. Tightly seal the dish with plastic wrap and foil, and put in a cool, dark cupboard for a week. After a week, I add another 1/4 cup of rum and leave it to get happy for at least two more weeks.
To store the cake, or for gifting, I cut it into six pieces, and wrap them tightly in both plastic wrap and foil. Then I store it in the same cool, dark cupboard and enjoy throughout the year.
* Instead of rum, you can use fruit juice in the cake batter (apple or cranberry juice would work well in this recipe), and skip the process of soaking the cake afterwards. Since the alcohol serves as a preservative, any fruitcake made without it should be tightly wrapped and frozen after several days. It will keep up to six months or so. See this article to learn more.
Other Cakes for the Winter Holiday Season
Here are a few of the cakes that find their way to my dessert tables for Christmas, New Year’s and other winter holiday occasions: Pecan Coffee Cake with a Cranberry Pecan Topping, Cranberry Orange Walnut Loaf and Cranberry Cheesecake. Um, do you see a cranberry theme here?
First published 2015 12 23
Republished 2019 11 08
Republished 2020 12 02
Republished 2021 12 01