This fruit cake loaf recipe is full of nostalgia, history, a combination of real and candied fruit, and (optional) rum! Rich with flavor and the best cake lore you can find, get in the spirit this holiday season as this aged cake gets you buzzing with cheer!
Factual Fruit Cake Lore
Fruit cake has a long history, and many tales to accompany it. There have been stories of 100-year-old fruit cakes, so the lore of this cake just can’t be ignored!
Similar to how we use protein bars now, the O.G. fruit cake was in mush form and sent off with ancient Roman soldiers to keep them fueled and satiated when sent out to battle. Made with barley, wine, and dried fruit, today’s fruit cake has just a whiff of that history.
In the early 1700’s, fruit cake was outlawed in Europe due to it’s sweet rich taste being seen as sinful. Making candied fruit for a fruit cake requires a good amount of sugar for preservation, so it was sweet as well as shelf stable before the possibility of refrigeration.
Don’t worry though, I have alternatives for candied fruit in this fruit cake loaf recipe!
How Long Does a Rum Soaked Cake Keep?
Apparently, two friends in Iowa sent each other a Christmas fruit cake for 50 years – the SAME fruit cake! Whether or not it’s true that fruit cakes remain edible for 10, 50, or 100 years, I think the question is how?
A fruit cake loaf recipe that is preserved with spirits, such as rum or brandy, are best when aged. Some say age them at least 3 months, and hey, some say pass it back and forth for 50 years!
While personally I probably wouldn’t eat a 50 or 100 year cake no matter how much rum it’s soaked in, fruit cake really is a treat that gets better with time. A reasonable amount of time, whatever that may be.
How to Make a Fruit Cake
When I think of fruit cake, it’s a circular sweet bread with bright candy fruit dots made by a lady with a beehive hair-do and cat eye glasses, not to forget the silver foil Christmas tree in the background.
Something from my Grandma’s generation, that is always there but no one eats it.
This fruit cake loaf recipe is here to change the tradition of an un-eaten-passed-around and re-gifted fruit cake! With optional rum and reasonably aged to your heart’s content, you’ll gobble this cake up before your tree is down.
If fruit cake truly isn’t your thing and you want a different cake with fruit, try my blood orange upside-down cake with rosemary!
A fruit cake loaf is a classic dessert that embodies the flavors and aromas of the holiday season. Made with rich molasses, sweet maraschino cherries, dried fruits, and crunchy walnuts, this cake is bursting with deliciousness.
The combination of these ingredients, along with a blend of warm spices, creates a cake that is moist, flavorful, and perfect for any occasion. Feel free to mix your favorite fruits and nuts to make it your own!
Fruits and Nuts
- Golden raisins and regular raisins
- Walnuts or pecans
- Red cherries and green cherries or dried cherries
- Orange zest
- Strong brewed coffee
- Spiced rum (optional)
- Sherry or triple-sec (optional)
Fruit Cake Loaf Recipe
First, heat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
Optional Rum Soaked Fruit
If desired, pre-soak the fruit in spiced rum. The fruit will soak up most of the rum, then pour any remaining rum into the batter. In this case, you may wish to reduce the coffee, and the rum will give a complimenting flavor but most of the alcohol will bake out.
In a bowl combine the currants, raisins, walnuts, red cherries, green cherries, dates to your liking. Add the orange zest and toss the mixture with ½ cup flour until it is evenly coated.
Now, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, which usually takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
Next add the eggs and molasses to the fluffy sugar and butter mixture, and beat until it’s well combined.
Now, stir together the dry ingredients: the remaining flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger and salt.
Use a spoon to stir in half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
Add half of the strong brewed coffee into the butter mixture and stir it in. Then add in the rest flour mixture and coffee and stir until it’s combined. It’s important not to over mix the batter.
Next, fold the fruit and nut mixture into the batter.
Once the fruit cake loaf batter is just mixed, divide the batter in half between the bread pans and place them both into the preheated oven.
Note: If you don’t want loaves, it’s ok to make this into one large cake. It will be a heavy cake, so slice it very thin when serving.
Bake for 75-90 minutes rotating the cakes every 15 minutes or so to help them bake evenly.
When done, each fruit cake loaf should pull away from the sides a little and a toothpick poke in the center should come out clean.
Remove the loaf pans and cool the cakes for 10 minutes. Now gently lift the bread from the pan and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Variations and Storage
You can slice and eat this fruit cake right away once it’s cool. Store the fruit cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Rum Soaked Fruit Cake
Or for an adult version, soak the cake for one to two hours in spiced rum after it has baked and cooled, and store in the refrigerator. I like to do this with one loaf so there is an adult version and a kids version!
This bread gets better with age. To age the fruit cake, cool completely, then soak cheesecloth in sherry or triple sec. The cheesecloth should be damp but not soaked, squeeze out any excess alcohol.
Wrap the loaves separately in the cheesecloth then parchment or beeswax wraps over it. Wrap again in tinfoil and place in zip top bags and refrigerate for 6-8 weeks.
Remove the cheesecloth, re-soak and wrap the cake once a week. Enjoy the aged rum soaked fruit cake loaf anytime after a week and up to at least 8 weeks or longer!
A Christmas Fruit Cake for Fun
You might wonder how healthy a fruit cake loaf is considering that it’s an old fashioned recipe that Grandmas make. In general the joke is that no one eats it, with a similar reputation to Brussels sprouts.
It’s the cake everyone loves to hate with healthy-ish ingredients, so they pass it along, right?
The reason I love this particular recipe for a fruit cake loaf is how customizable it is, especially when I can make one of them rum-soaked and aged to perfection. Put a health spin on it, or not, it’s up to you!
Feel free to omit the candied cherries and use no sugar dried fruits if you prefer a lower sugar treat. However, I also give you permission to make and eat this rum soaked sweet and rich cake without worry once a year.
After all, worrying too much is not healthy either, so eat the cake!
More Holiday Treats
- Grandma’s Apple Cinnamon Cake
- Spiced Persimmon Bread with Candied Ginger
- Conifer Needle Shortbread Cookies
- Acorn Flour Cookies
- Mushroom Cookies with Maple Icing
- 10 Herbal Holiday Cocktail Recipes
- Fermented Honey Cranberries
- Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf with Lemon Glaze
Old Fashioned Fruit Cake
- cooking spray for greasing the pans
- 2 cups dried currants
- 2 cups raisins or golden raisins
- 1 cup walnuts or pecans chopped
- 1/2 cup candied red cherries halved
- 1/2 cup candied green cherries halved
- 1/2 cup dates chopped
- zest from 1 large orange
- 4 cups all-purpose flour divided
- 1 cup butter room temp
- 2 cups brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs room temp
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee
- spiced rum optional
- triple sec optional
- Heat the oven to 325°F (165℃). Line 2 bread pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Combine the currants, raisins, walnuts, red cherries, green cherries, dates and orange zest together in a bowl. Toss with ½ cup flour till coated.
- Beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the eggs and molasses and beat until combined.
- Combine the remaining flour, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger and salt and using a spoon, stir in half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
- Add half of the coffee and stir into the butter, then add the remaining flour and coffee and stir until combined but do not over mix.
- Add the fruit and fold into the batter.
- Divide the batter between the bread pans and place in the oven.
- Bake for 75-90 minutes and check for doneness with a toothpick. Rotate the cakes every 15 minutes to help them bake evenly. The cake should pull away from the sides a little and a toothpick inserted should come out clean.
- Remove and cool for 10 minutes, then gently lift the bread from the pan and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.
- You can make this into one large cake if you don’t like loaves. It will be a heavy cake and can be sliced very thin when serving.
- You can also soak the fruit in ¾ cup spiced rum for 12-24 hours. The fruit will soak up most of the rum and just pour in any remaining rum into the recipe. You may wish to reduce the coffee by ¼ cup.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- May be frozen for up to 6 months.
- For an adult version, soak the cake for an hour or 2 in spiced rum after it has baked and cooled. Store in the refrigerator.
- This bread gets better with age. To age the fruit cake, cool completely, then soak cheesecloth in sherry or triple sec.
- The cheesecloth should be damp but not soaked, squeeze out any excess alcohol.
- Wrap the loaves separately in cheesecloth then wrap in parchment paper.
- Wrap again in tinfoil and place in zip top bags.
- Refrigerate for 6-8 weeks. Remove the cheesecloth and re-soak and wrap the cake once a week.
- The bread may be eaten after a week but will last up to at least 8 weeks or longer.