When someone says fruitcake, what comes to mind? The mention of fruitcake brings back all the nostalgic memories of my early childhood. My Mom would start the holiday fruitcake in the fall, usually after Hallowe’en. By the time everything was added into her large bowl, it would be chock-full of candied fruit, nuts (from our own nut trees), spices and other ingredients, such as citrus peel and booze of some kind. The most important part of this process was the traditional family stirring. Everyone in our family (from youngest to oldest) took a turn at stirring the mixture. Originally the three eldest girls of five little girls participated in this ritual – the two baby girls would join us a few years later. Mind you, our little arms were no match for this unyielding mixture, but our valiant attempts were praised and applauded by our parents. Dad even asked Mom to wake him up from his sleep (he worked the night shift), so that he could take part in our family tradition.
The reason Mom started this process so early in the season was simply that traditional fruitcakes needed time to age or mellow with the rum or other special liqueur that was included in the ingredients. A cheesecloth was soaked in the alcohol and wrapped around the fruitcake. This process was repeated a few times over the course of six or more weeks. My Dad worked for Hiram Walkers, so we usually had access to a special brandy or rum which was set aside for the fruitcake. While this recipe is not my Mom’s traditional fruitcake recipe (I will post that recipe at a future date), this Holiday Fruitcake Made Easy is a fruitcake that anyone can make with ease, without the need for a lot of muscle or strong booze or lengthy preserving time. Despite the fact that this fruitcake is not aged, it is flavourful, moist and delicious, and it can be made at the last minute in your holiday preparations. The mini cake size makes them ideal edible holiday gifts.
Holiday Fruitcake Made Easy
CHEF TALK: This Holiday Fruitcake Made Easy recipe is entirely adaptable to a gluten-free and dairy-free version. Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk can now be found in your grocer’s baking aisle. See “What Else Can I Do With This Recipe” below for baking pan options.
CHEF TIP: For optimum flavour, toast your nuts before adding them to the fruitcake batter. If I use pecans halves in the fruitcake, I generally leave them whole – the profile of the nut looks very nice when sliced.
CHEF TIP: Using Liqueurs or Brandy in place of the traditional Rum: Utilizing brandy or liqueur such as cherry or apricot provide a fruit cake with a much less alcohol-flavoured fruitcake. As well, the ingredients do not need to mellow for long periods. Traditionally, alcohol has been used as a fruitcake preserving method (See Sources). You can bake and eat this Holiday Fruitcake Made Easy immediately.
CHEF TIP: Candied Fruit: Feel free to use any 2-cup combination of dried or candied fruit or citrus peel in this fruitcake. It is a very adaptable recipe. One year, I used a mixture of dried apricots, dried pineapple, dried cranberries, cherries (dried pineapple is particularly good). Every year, it is a little bit different, but always delicious!
This recipe was adapted from a Brand Name recipe book, circa 1990
Yield: 4 mini loaves (5 x 3-inch pans)
- 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 jar (28 oz.) mincemeat, plain or rum
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (or dairy-free alternative)
- 2 cups (1 lb.) mixed candied fruit
- 1 cup pecan or walnut halves, toasted (see Chef Tip above)
- 1/4 cup (or more) brandy or liqueur, optional
- Preheat oven to 300oF degrees.
- Grease and flour mini loaf pans or line the pans with parchment using the pinwheel method (see Learning Tips).
- Combine flour and baking soda; set aside.
- In large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (mincemeat, eggs, vanilla, sweetened condensed milk, candied fruit, nuts and brandy or liqueur.
- Blend in the dry ingredients and mix well to incorporate the ingredients.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
- Bake the mini loaves for 50 – 55 minutes or until the centre of the loaf comes out clean when checked with a wooden pick.
- Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out of the pan and place on a rack to cool completely. Decorate if desired or leave plain.
White Chocolate Glaze: Melt 6 oz. white chocolate with 4 tablespoons butter or coconut butter in a bain-Marie (See Learning Tips). Spoon over the tops of the cheesecakes. White the glaze is still soft, decorate with candied cherries, candied fruit and whole nuts.
What Else Can I Do With This Recipe?
Various options for baking my Holiday Fruitcake Made Easy using different pans, for example:
- 10-inch Bundt cake pan: Bake for one hour and 45 minutes.
- 5 x mini loaf pans (each 5” x 3”): divide the batter between five mini loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes.
- Baking pan: 15-inch x 10-inch pan. Yield: 4 dozen bars. Grease the baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool. Cut into bars. Glaze if desired.
You Might Also Enjoy These Urb’n’Spice Holiday Recipes:
Please CLICK the link above to access my Urb’n’Spice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Parchment Paper – The Pinwheel Method
- Oven Temperature Accuracy
- Toast Your Nuts
- Vanilla Extract
If you try my recipe for Holiday Fruitcake Made Easy, please leave me a comment with your feedback. Don’t forget to pin this recipe for later!
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