HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Call for Recipes (CFR): Give me your best fruit cake recipes, ideas, innovations and ingredient sources!

I admit I've never been a huge traditional fruit cake fan. When pressed, I'd personally much rather have a small piece of one of the "light" versions, preferably studded with a good pineapple and nuts. However, I do like baking and I believe it's time to think about starting some fruit cakes if I want them to be able to season/ripen for gift-giving at the holidays.

If you have a great fruit cake recipe, lay it on me. Light or dark cake doesn't really matter -- I'm open to being convinced a rich, dark and spiced fruit cake can be delicious, too. Less-conventional recipes are welcome here, too. For example, to me, the idea of a rich, chocolate-y fruit cake made with a high-fat cocoa and maybe heavier on the cinnamon (still with a mix of dried fruits and nuts) sounds like it would be a recipe worth playing with.

And haters gonna hate. Let's keep the fruit cake complaining to a minimum here; this thread is about love of fruit cake (or love of its potential). Thank you!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For nontraditional, here are two I like a lot.

    Golden Fruitcake, studded with chunks of marzipan as well as fruit. I use dried cranberries instead of dates, and pecans instead of pine nuts.

    David Lebovitz's Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      Wow! I adore marzipan and pine nuts -- that sounds like a contender in my book. Also interested to look at the Lebovitz recipe, although I've personally had mixed results with his stuff in the past. I do like the idea of Chocolate Cherry anything, though....

      Thanks for the ideas!

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        2nd the Golden Fruitcake from Epi. It's very swet from the marzipan but I love it.

      2. This one is approved by me, but I *do* like fruitcake. Worth a look, for sure!

        5 Replies
        1. re: blue room

          Thanks! Curious if you (or anyone else) has tried doubling or tripling this recipe? I don't see why not. It's odd (to me) the yield is listed as "ten slices," which I assume is written that way for nutritional breakdown. Is that baked in a 9"x5"x3" loaf pan, as the recipe stands?

          This recipe sure got great reviews on the FN site. :)

          1. re: team_cake

            No, I've never doubled it, I'm a home cook, but I do indeed bake it in a 9"x5"x3" loaf pan.

            Ten slices from a 9" loaf would make the slices almost an inch thick -- too thick for fruitcake!

          2. re: blue room

            This Free Range Fruitcake recipe is the only one I will use, I love it that much. I have to sub apple cider for the rum because I can't have alcohol, and I glaze the top with bitter orange marmalade to moisten it before wrapping, instead of the brandy spritz.
            I change up some of the fruits, depending on what I find at the CSA store. I haven't tried blueberries because I am afraid they could overwhelm the other dried fruits.

            1. re: jmcarthur8

              I've had this WITH the blueberries and it is superb!

            2. I have had two really great fruitcakes. One was a gift. It was kind of a blonde fruitcake, nothing red or dark or green in it ... apricot based, maybe pineapple, with nuts. The other was my grandmother's, which had candied cherries and pecans only, and mashed bananas in the batter, which were not detectable. (I do not like candied citrus peel.)

              I don't have recipes for these, but have found that if you know what you want to make, finding a recipe is always possible ;)

              1 Reply
              1. re: foiegras

                Thank you! The banana one sounds interesting. I'll give it a Google.

              2. This is Black Cake. Laurie Colwin says " this is to fruitcake as Muzak is to fruitcake" and I agree.


                2 Replies
                1. re: magiesmom

                  "There is fruitcake and there is black cake, which is to fruitcake what Brahms' piano quartets are to Muzak. Its closest relatives are plum pudding and black bun, but they are mere third cousins twice removed. Black cake, like truffles and vintage Burgundy, is deep, complicated, and intense. It is light and dense at the same time and demands to be eaten in a slow, meditative way." -- Laurie Colwin, Gourmet (Nov 88)

                  This sounds good, too. The recipe linked above is a little more ornate than common fruit cakes; this black cake calls for rolled marzipan, icing and dragee decorations. I wanted to find an image, and this one has the rolled marzipan cover -- the cake slice does look black from all the prunes and raisins. Link to an image (and article) here, too: http://www.boston.com/ae/food/article...

                  1. re: team_cake

                    I forgot there was marzipan because I love it I have not made it for this cake. it is wonderful without it also.

                2. Jacqueline Kennedy's Whitehouse recipe for French fruitcake was published years ago in I think the Ladies's Home Journal. It is a white fruitcake, rich in butter. My Mom used to make this each year and it is excellent served with sweet sherry I do have my recipe in my tin recipe box but if you do a web search for french fruitcake you will find it. I entered link below by hand as I am on a Mac computer and can't seem to find the copy and paste option. The ingredients listed are exactly the same ones I have on my very old page cut out from that magazine.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Ruthie789

                    I have a fondness for these types of recipes associated with bits of history -- the fact Jackie O endorsed the cake as one she enjoyed enough to make it a White House standard is a kick. Thank you for the link!

                    1. re: team_cake

                      You are welcome, it is a lovely fruitcake and not quite so labour intensive as some of the darker ones.

                      1. re: team_cake

                        Since you like historical recipes, you might try to hold of Darren McGrady's book, "Eating Royally." He was head pastry chef at Buckingham Palace until he left to work for Princess Diana as one of her personal chefs after the divorce. The book includes the recipe for the fruitcakes he made for the royal family every year. It's very involved, storing the cakes for three months and soaking with sugar syrup every few weeks, with a final finish of marzipan frosting. He also includes a great recipe for cottage pie.

                        1. re: pasuga

                          Thank you! I will check that out online right now. :)

                      2. re: Ruthie789

                        There is an instruction in the French fruitcake recipe that I don't understand --
                        "Halfway through the baking use a knife to make a slit in the middle of the cake."

                        Does this mean a shallow slit, lengthwise, mostly for looks, to keep the top from cracking ?

                        1. re: blue room

                          It is a shallow lengthwise slit, I am not sure why. It could be because the cake has some beaten egg whites in it so perhaps managing the air and rising, giving a controlled end result as opposed to a makeshift one. Without the slit you might have a mountain top as a result. My Mom made the slit.

                      3. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/old-herm...

                        My mother in law gave me this one. Make Saturday after Thanksgiving and eat it Xmas day!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jill kibler

                          jill k, this is my idea of a holiday fruitcake, dates, walnuts, cinnamon--can't go wrong. I'm not that fond of booze in cakes..rather have the cocktail but the dark, gooey holiday cakes I love.

                          1. re: jill kibler

                            This sounds like a yummy, heavy date cake I could only eat one bite at a time, preferably with tea. Delicious! I love that it's heavy on cinnamon as the only spice, too, since I'm a cinnamon fan. Thank you!

                          2. I'm a fruitcake hater (it's the raisins and that weird dyed and candied fruit), but I did find one I loved! It's a white cake and contains only candied orange peel and almonds. I bathed mine in rum and amaretto instead of the called-for sherry. Oh, and it has a great name: Dowager Duchess Fruitcake! Perhaps for a Downton Abbey viewing party? Here's the link: http://www.marthastewart.com/354028/d...
                            Now, I should get to candying my orange peel so I can make some! Thanks for the reminder.

                            18 Replies
                            1. re: pavlova

                              That looks like a very elegant cake; thank you for posting. I loooove candied orange peel and also almonds. This does appear to be one of those "fruit cakes for people who don't care for fruit cake."

                              Now I'm thinking I may have to make this one and also a darker one, all in mini-loaf pans, so I can give away one of each sort to friends at the holidays.

                              1. re: team_cake

                                I think you'll love it. I made half the recipe in 2 6" round pans and only shared it amongst 3 lucky people and it wasn't enough for us fruitcake haters!

                              2. re: pavlova

                                Oh nice! And think of it with grapefruit!

                                1. re: blue room

                                  I'm thinking of it with a mixture of citrus, plus the addition of crystallized ginger...

                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    Oh yes! I thought about ginger last year when I was eating it, but had forgotten.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      I can't keep candied ginger in the house! It might as well be popcorn.

                                      1. re: blue room

                                        I'm the same way. I love everything ginger.

                                    2. re: blue room

                                      I've never had candied grapefruit peel, but I bet I'd like it! I was also thinking candied lemon peel and pistachios.

                                      1. re: pavlova

                                        Really, any candied citrus peel and almonds or pistachios or macadamias would be lovely, I think (if they make it past the cook and into the cake) -- I like all of these ideas. I wonder if working in some marzipan would be overload for what seems to be a relatively simple fruit cake?

                                        Also, to anyone who makes fruit cakes that require ripening -- do you wrap in cheesecloth and THEN put the cakes in a tin or plastic container while they ripen? I don't usually see instructions beyond the initial wrapping in cloth and once/week swipe with booze. Will keeping them in plastic containers while they ripen make them mushy? Because I can't imagine just leaving muslin-wrapped cakes out on my counter or cupboard for weeks without attracting bugs (or the dog) unless I've got them in something airtight, too.

                                        1. re: team_cake

                                          Yep, I put my wrapped fruitcakes in a big plastic container. It sits on a shelf in my cool cellar and I feed the fruitcakes every couple of weeks, depending on how long they are going to age.

                                          1. re: gimlis1mum

                                            Thank you! Good detail about keeping them in a cool place. We don't have a cellar, but I think our semi-finished attic will work; it stays cool in the autumn.

                                    3. re: pavlova

                                      Looking at Martha Stewart's cakes, I saw another that looks great --
                                      I'm not sure that it needs all the decoration, it has hazelnuts and hazelnut liqueur -- heaven to me -- and dates, apricots, figs.

                                      1. re: blue room

                                        It looks very pretty, doesn't it? Mmmm....hazelnuts....

                                      2. re: pavlova

                                        Well, I took the plunge and made the Dowager Duchess Fruitcake last Sunday. I take my hat off to pavlova for candying all that peel, especially if she (apologies if I've got your gender wrong) makes the full recipe. I bought mine, and made the cake with equal parts candied orange peel, lemon peel, and crystallized ginger - with no almonds. I love almonds fiercely, but I'll probably be giving a couple of other almondy sweets, so I wanted some variation. The candied peel I bought was in 1/4" dice, rather than the 1/2" the recipe wants. It also calls for 6 cups peel + 2 1/2 cups almonds. I used 6 cups total, and given how chock-full of goodies the batter was with my smaller pieces, I can't imagine it with 2 1/2 cups more.

                                        Instead of 5 standard mini loaf pans, I did 2 plus a dozen teeny-tiny 2x4-inch paper pans (one is pictured here alongside a set of measuring spoons so you can see how petite it is), for giving. Now they're stored away in a tin in my cool laundry room, awaiting their weekly feeding of sherry. Trying a new fruitcake recipe is always a bit nervous-making since the ingredients are quite an investment, but these seem very promising. I'll be back in a few weeks with a report!

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          I did candy all that peel! Except that I didn't make notes from last year about how many oranges I needed. If you want the full recipe, you need to candy the peel of 12 oranges. I only had 6 so made a half recipe, which filled 4 mini loaf pans to the brim. They will get their 4th weekly Amaretto bath on Sunday. And then time to mail some and eat the rest, in thin slices, many times a day...

                                          Yours sounds great, Caitlin--orange, lemon and ginger.

                                          Next up for me is David Lebovitz's Cherry-Chocolate Fruitcake. The dried sour cherries are lolling around in kirsch as I type. That one doesn't keep as long, so baking and mailing it on Sunday.

                                          Oh, and I was always the most vociferous fruitcake hater. I'm not quite sure what's happened, but as long as there are no violent coloured candied cherries or evil raisins, this fruitcake stuff is pretty good!

                                          Here's the Lebovitz link: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/11/...

                                        2. re: pavlova

                                          This looks great, I usually make a homemade treat every year to give to my core group of friends. This is perfect as the host of our yearly Christmas party is a huge Downton Abbey fan. She'll get a kick out of the name. I plan to candy my own peels too. I like the rum and ameretto idea. Thanks

                                          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                            The name of it was the reason I've had that recipe bookmarked for years--well before Downton Abbey came along. The name cracked me up every time I saw it but I only made it for the first time last year. Have you watched season 3 yet? It hasn't aired here in Canada yet, but I just couldn't wait. Love that Dowager Duchess--she has the best lines.

                                          2. re: pavlova

                                            That looks so wonderful and I love white cakes ( I love dark fruit cake too) I had top copy this recipe. I hope I have time to make them all to choose our favorite.

                                          3. Below is the tee-totaller version of my late Kentucky-born friend's delicious recipe. I believe Polly added at least a half-cup of "booze you choose". She generally used whatever jams and dried fruits she had on hand, but I have made both all-apricot and all-pear versions that were very good. This is a heavy, large, moist cake that keeps in the refrigerator (in a sealed container) for a VERY long time. I know this not because it isn't tasty but because I live alone and it takes me over a month to go through that much cake.

                                            POLLY'S PEOPLE-PLEASING FRUITCAKE:

                                            3 c applesauce or other fruit sauce
                                            2 c sugar
                                            7 Tbsp butter
                                            1/4 tsp salt
                                            1 Tbsp baking soda
                                            1 Tbsp cinnamon
                                            2 tsp ground cloves
                                            2 tsp nutmeg
                                            1 c preserves or jam, any kind
                                            1-2 c raisins
                                            1-2 c chopped nuts
                                            up to 16 oz. chopped dried fruit or candied fruit

                                            In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring ALL of the above to a boil, stirring often, and boil 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Then stir in:

                                            2 beaten eggs
                                            4 c flour
                                            4 tsp baking powder
                                            1 tsp vanilla
                                            optional: 1/2-1 cup booze of your choice?

                                            Pour into a greased and floured bundt, tube, or angel food pan and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours. When cool, drizzle with a simple icing of fruit juice and confectioner's sugar, if desired.
                                            * * * * * * *
                                            I haven't made this in several years, and always used a bundt pan. I'd appreciate recommendations for baking times for doing this recipe in loaf pans or mini-loaf pans.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              I''ve made this fruitcake for 40-50 years. It is not dense with fruit--more cakey. Grey... there is some info on baking different sizes that might work for you.

                                              BOURBON PECAN FRUITCAKE

                                              2 cups whole candied cherries
                                              1 cup diced candied pineapple
                                              1 cup golden raisins (I don't like so I just increase the other fruits to make up for not adding)
                                              2 cups bourbon
                                              2 cups butter, softened
                                              2 cups sugar
                                              2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
                                              8 eggs, separated
                                              5 cups flour
                                              4 cups pecan halves
                                              1 1/2 tsp baking powder
                                              1 tsp salt
                                              2 tsp nutmeg

                                              Combine fruit, raisins and bourbon. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain but save liquid. Beat butter till light and fluffy. Add sugars gradually, beating on medium until well blended. Add egg yolks, beating just till blended. Combine 1/2 cup flour with pecans. Sift remaining flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add 2 cups to the creamed mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the remaing flour alternately with the reserved bourbon, ending with flour. Beat egg whites till stiff but not dry; fold gently into cake batter. Add fruit and pecans. Grease and line pans. Makes 1 10" tube pan + 1 small loaf (or 4 medium loaf + 5 small loaf). Bake at 275 4 hours for tube, 1 1/2 for others. Cool. Wrap in cheesecloth soaked with bourbon. Wrap in foil and store in a tight container for several weeks. I keep it in the refrigerator.

                                              1. re: fleck

                                                Thank you this sounds wonderful. I copied the recipe to try this year.

                                              2. re: greygarious

                                                Greygarious and Fleck: What interesting recipes! Thank you for posting. I may have to make fruit cakes all winter long. So many intriguing recipes in terms of ingredients and methods. I love the name of "Polly's People Pleasing Fruicake," and the bourbon and pecans in fleck's recipe sounds like a winning combo to me. I'm tickled at the assortment of replies!

                                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                                  Wow, that is a superclassical fruit cake. I mean, it's like what I think when I hear "fruit cake," with the dates and whiskey and golden syrup. It looks so good; I'd love a piece of that and a cup of hot tea right now.

                                                2. Paraphrased from the marvelous book Paris Boulangerie Patisserie by Linda Dannenberg:

                                                  Cake aux Fruits

                                                  Cake Batter
                                                  1/2 cup plus 2 T. (150 g) unsalted butter
                                                  1/2 cup plus 2 T. (150 g) sugar
                                                  3 large eggs
                                                  2 1/2 cups (200 grams) unbleached flour
                                                  2 t. baking powder
                                                  1 1/3 (150 g) diced candied or dried fruits
                                                  2/3 cup (75 g) raisins
                                                  2 T. sliced blanced almonds
                                                  Rum Soaking Syrup
                                                  1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
                                                  1/2 cup (125 ml) water
                                                  3 T. rum, or to taste
                                                  3 T. apricot jam, warmed and strained
                                                  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to line a 4- by 8-inch loaf pan. Butter the pan, line it, and butter the lining. Sprinkle the pan with sugar, shaking out the excess.
                                                  2. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well blended.
                                                  3. Mix the flour, baking powder, fruits, and raisins. Add to the butter mixture and blend on low speed until almost blended, then finish by hand with a rubber spatula. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the almonds on top and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
                                                  4. Combine the sugar and water for the soaking syrup in a microwaveable measuring cup. Nuke until sugar is dissolved. Add the rum.
                                                  5. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then remove it. Turn cake right side up. Place on a rack over waxed paper. Brush it with the syrup in several increments, waiting for it to soak in. Glaze with the apricot jam.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                    This sounds great, too. I love rum and apricots -- the two together in cake sound delicious. Thank you for posting! I love this whole thread -- I'm very geared up for holiday baking now. :)

                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                      I should mention that this is a very light cake - sort of a fluffy poundcake with fruit and rum.

                                                    2. I am looking for a lost fruitcake recipe -- a dark fruitcake with honey and orange juice, and dates were among the ingredients. Any similar recipes or hints would be appreciated.

                                                      1. team_cake, if you can get a hold of a copy of Debbie Macomber's book "There's Something about Christmas", there is a recipe for a chocolate fruitcake with pineapple, coconut, and maraschino (spelling?) cherries. It is wonderful! And if you craft a recipe that has the chocolate, cinnamon, fruits and nuts, would you be kind enough to post it? That sounds delicious to me!