Made with dried fruit, brandy, ground almonds, and citrus zest, this easy fruitcake recipe offers a delicious and quick way to enjoy a classic. We promise you will never make fun of fruitcake again!
By Aimee Tucker
Nov 27 2018
The best easy fruitcake recipe for Christmas.Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker
No dish has a harder time winning people over during the holiday season than fruitcake. It seems like the purpose of the fruitcake is not to be eaten, but to be made fun of. The joke is that fruitcake makes a better doorstop than gift, that you only give them to people you dislike, and that anything containing electric green cherries should be approached with caution.
Despite the rampant anti-fruitcake rhetoric, delicious fruitcake does exist!
So why the bad reputation?
Our modern palates, so accustomed to buttery crumb cakes topped with pillowy frosting, have a hard time appreciating a cake that has been around since the Middle Ages. The alcohol in fruitcake added flavor and acted as a preservative so the cake could be eaten and shared over a long period of time.
Additionally, most of the today’s commercial fruitcakes on today’s shelves contain a slew of chemical preservatives along with those unnatural-looking candied fruits that many folks find unappealing. Candied fruit is fruit that has been heated in sugar syrup, which absorbs the moisture from the fruit and acts as a preservative. What’s left behind is brightly colored and cloyingly sweet.
But that’s not the kind of fruitcake we are going to make today. This is the kind of easy fruitcake recipe you’ll love, as first shared by Edie Clark in her essay Fruitcake Weather.
An authentic fruitcake is a serious undertaking for the casual baker. It must be made weeks in advance, preferably at the end of November, and then “fed” with brandy throughout December to keep it moist. This is another reason why so many of us have never actually tried a “real” fruitcake. It’s hard enough to remember to defrost the turkey and haul out the Christmas decorations at the end of November, never mind make a cake that won’t be eaten for a month.
I had hoped to make a genuine fruitcake this season, but proving my point, time just got away from me. Thankfully, Yankee has a recipe for an easy fruitcake that makes a sincere effort to look and taste like the real thing, without the weeks of waiting.
The secret lies in the combination of ingredients. Dried currants (which you’ll find next to the raisins at the supermarket), dates, apricots, and cherries are soaked in brandy for flavor and preservation, orange and lemon zests are added to the batter for their bright citrus aroma and flavor, and ground almonds keep the cake moist.
Once you have your ingredients assembled it all comes together pretty quickly.
Add the currants and roughly chopped dates, apricots, and cherries to a saucepan of warm brandy, then allow them to soak up the spirits for 10-15 minutes.
Whirl the almonds in a blender or food processor until they resemble soft sand. You won’t need many for the 2/3 cup ground almonds called for in the recipe. Start with 1/3 cup and go from there.
Butter, brown sugar, eggs, and the normal team of dry ingredients round out the ingredients.
The recipe calls for the cake to be baked in a 6-inch round cake pan with 4-inch sides, but since I couldn’t find one like that I just used a small ceramic baking dish, and it worked fine. Make sure to the line the bottom with parchment for easy removal. Once removed from the oven, cool the cake completely to room temperature before slicing.
After you try a bite, you will know why we call this our best quick fruitcake. Fragrant with citrus and almond, dense with brandy-soaked fruits, and just sweet enough from the brown sugar and natural sugars of the fruit, this old-fashioned fruitcake is a winner.
Are you ready to make your own fruitcake and wow your friends and family with a recipe that’s so good, we call it the best?
Happy baking and happy holidays!
This post was first published in 2011 and has been updated.