Baking is one of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy baking cookies, cakes, breads, pies, muffins, cupcakes, and much more.
A Little Christmas Story
Before I was born, my father used to work for a Scottish man named Hugh on his large estate in Perak, Malaysia. My father took care of his horses, his house, and sometimes he cooked for the family, too. Every year at Christmas, Hugh would bring a beautifully decorated box to my father; inside was a pleasant fruit cake packed with candied dried fruits. I loved listening to my father's stories about his younger days.
Inspired by this particular story, I decided to make a fruitcake to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
To make a fruitcake, you start by soaking the dried fruits in liquor or alcohol. In this recipe, I used raisins, dried cranberries, glazed cherries, and orange zest. I wish I also had sultanas in the mixture, but sultanas are not a common ingredient in U.S. supermarkets.
Some people add chopped nuts, such as cashews and pecans, but I didn't have any in my pantry so I decided to leave them out. If you want to add nuts, just roughly chop them (about 1 cup) and mix them into the cake mixture before putting it in the prepared baking pan.
Why Alcohol Is Used in Fruitcakes?
People say that alcohol accentuates the cake's flavors and also acts as a preservative. Usually, brandy, dark rum, or red wine is used to soak the dried fruits overnight. However, I decided not to use alcohol and instead use orange juice. I prefer a strong citrus flavor in my fruitcake.
Tips for a Moist Fruitcake
A fruitcake usually takes three to four hours to bake or steam. I baked my cake in the oven, as my food steamer is not large enough to fit the pan. Fruitcake is best when it's moist and not dry. To retain the cake's moisture, brush the top of the cake top with the strained juice or orange juice. After that, cover the cake tightly with cling wrap and store it at room temperature. The longer it sits, the better the cake will be. Slice the cake when it's ready to be served. If you're using juice like me, refrigerate the cake after three days of being at room temperature.
By the way, did you know December 27 is National Fruit Cake Day in the United States? I guess it's the perfect time to bake one!
I hope you will try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we do. Happy holidays!
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (add 1/3 cup more if the mixture is very sticky)
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 cup softened butter
- 1 1/2 cups mix dried fruits (I used dried cranberries, raisins, glazed red cherries, and 2 tablespoons orange zest)
- 1 1/3 cups orange juice, grape juice, or pineapple juice
- 3 large brown eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Soak the fruit mixture: In a jar, combine the raisins, dried cranberries, glazed cherries, and orange zest. Add the orange juice into the fruit mixture and cover it with cling wrap. Put the lid on the jar and store it at room temperature. (You can do this a day before and soak the mixture overnight.)
- On the day of baking: Preheat the oven at 290°F.
- Strain the fruit mixture and set aside. Save the strained juice for later.
- In a bowl, sieve the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the butter and dark brown sugar. Start mixing at low speed to combine. Switch to medium speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is creamy and pale.
- Lower the speed and add eggs one at a time.
- Add molasses, vanilla extract, and orange juice into the mixture.
- Add the flour mixture, in two batches. Do not over-mix. Stop the mixer as soon as the mixture comes together.
- Add 3 tablespoons of flour into the mixed fruits and mix well. (This is to prevent the mixed fruit from sinking to the bottom of the pan.)
- In the same mixing bowl, add the mixed fruits. Use a spatula to combine the fruits into the cake mixture.
- Transfer the cake mixture into a prepared pan.
- Bake in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (Cooking time may vary depending on your oven.)
- Transfer the cake onto a wire rack to cool.
- Use a skewer to poke random holes on the cake.
- Brush the cake with the strained juice or orange juice.
- Wrap the cake with cling wrap to keep the moisture in the cake. Let it sit overnight at room temperature.
- Occasionally, the next day unwrap the cake and again brush the cake with juice.
- Slice the fruitcake when it's ready to be served.
- Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea!
© 2019 Liza
Liza (author) from USA on January 21, 2020:
A Mexican Flan? I never had one. Surprisingly, my husband never mentioned it to me. Every year, I visit his grandparents (Mexican food is the biggest influence in their family) for Thanksgiving, neither I have seen or tasted one. This is very intriguing.
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on January 21, 2020:
I grew up in Australia with British family eating fruit cake and it's something that I like quite a bit. I introduced my Hispanic wife to it many years ago and she said she prefers Mexican flan. There's no accounting for taste now is there? ;)
Liza (author) from USA on January 16, 2020:
The fruit cake was delicious. Thank you for your lovely comment, Heera :)
Heera from India on January 15, 2020:
Wow. The fruit cake looks yummy, especially the fruit mixture. Thanks a lot for the recipe.
Liza (author) from USA on December 31, 2019:
More surprises, actually my husband and his family never heard of sultanas before too :) I bet your daughter fruit's cake is delicious, Liz. I realize fruit cake is a popular tradition cake in the UK. In the meantime, in Italy, a sweet bread loaf known as Panettone is quite similar to a fruit cake.
Liz Westwood from UK on December 31, 2019:
I was surprised to read that sultanas are not easily available, as we have them in UK supermarkets. This is the first year in a long time that I have not made a fruit cake for Christmas. My daughter made a very good one, which she moistened with whisky, as she had no brandy.
Liza (author) from USA on December 30, 2019:
Thank you for your lovely comment, Shaloo. The fruit cake was delicious, indeed. I might be doing another one soon :) Happy Holidays!
Shaloo Walia from India on December 29, 2019:
The cake looks delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Liza (author) from USA on December 27, 2019:
Thank you for your lovely comment, MG Singh. I love cakes too. The fruit cake turned out really good :)
Liza (author) from USA on December 27, 2019:
Fruit cake is one of my favorite cakes to bake during the festive season. It's tedious to make but, it's really worth it. By the time I'm replying to your comment, the cake is already gone :) Maybe next time instead of bake in the oven I'll steam it. Thank you for commenting. Happy Holidays!
MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 26, 2019:
I love cakes and this looks appetizing.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 26, 2019:
I love fruit cake, as long as it's moist. Your recipe sounds like the type that I enjoy. Thanks for sharing the recipe and for sharing the tips for keeping the cake moist. It looks like a lovely treat for Christmas.