Holiday Baking: My Winter Fruit-and-Nut Cake

Friday November 4, 2016

Fruitcakes usually call for lots of butter to be creamed with the sugar and flour.  Imagine my delight to find that just as good a fruitcake can be made without any added fat other than the nuts.  In place of sugary candied fruits, use a combination of dried fruits to create a colorful mosaic of texture and flavor.  This less-heavy and less-sweet golden fruitcake is just as delicious thinly sliced as soon as it has cooled as it is aged in the refrigerator for a week, with coffee, eggnog, or hot fruit punch.

Makes 6 small loaves, about 10 thin slices per loaf


  • One 8-ounce package dried mango, chopped
  • One 6-ounce package dried apricots, chopped
  • One 6-ounce package dried cranberries
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 4 slices dried pineapple, chopped
  • 7/8 cup hot apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) coarse walnut pieces
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) slivered blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup hot apple juice mixed with 1/4 cup orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, for soaking
  • Apple Jelly Glaze, recipe following (optional)


Combine the dried fruit in a bowl and add the hot apple juice, vanilla, and spices.  Let stand at room temperature 1 hour to macerate and soften the fruit.  Spray the sides and bottoms of six 5 3/4-by 3-inch disposable aluminum loaf pans with Baker’s Joy cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 300º.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the nuts and toss to distribute.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until thick, foamy, and at least double in volume, about 3 minutes.  Pour into the fruit mixture, then sprinkle the flour mixture over the top.  Stir with a large spatula until thoroughly mixed and all the fruit and nuts are evenly coated with the batter.  Pack the mixture into the prepared pans; press down gently to fill the pans and smooth the tops.

Arrange the pans on a baking sheet to avoid tipping and place in the center of the preheated oven.  Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until firm and lightly browned.  A bamboo skewer inserted into the centers will come out clean.  Drizzle each warm loaf with 2 tablespoons of the hot soaking liquid.  Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.   Store wrapped in foil in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or else freeze up to 4 months.

If glazing, remove from the refrigerator and let stand 1 hour.  Make the glaze and brush while very hot over the top and sides of the cake.  Let stand 10 minutes and apply another layer.  You can decorate the top with nut halves if you like; they will stick when the glaze sets.  Brush the cake once, decorate, then glaze a second time over the nuts.  After decorating, let stand 2 hours before serving. Cakes are easiest to slice when chilled.

Apple Jelly Glaze

While glazing is a purely optional touch, it gives a beautiful gloss which is especially nice if the cake is to be displayed on a buffet.


  • 1 1/2 cups apple jelly
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Combine the jelly and water in a saucepan or a microwave proof bowl.  Heat to liquify the jelly.  Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.  Stir in the lemon juice and use immediately while very hot.  Reheat as necessary if glaze cools while brushing on the cakes.  Glaze can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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