First cab off the rank for my festive baking!
Rich, boozy fruitcake is a favourite around the holidays. Enjoy it with a cup of tea on a chilly afternoon, with a warm sweet sauce for dessert or with coffee for breakfast. It’s equally welcome any time of day!
This fruitcake is eggless and butterless, for a vegan and healthier treat. But… with no eggs or other binders, it’s a bit crumbly and can be prone to breakage, so you need to take care handling it. It’s really good with custard – we use Bird’s custard powder, which tastes great and also happens to be vegan 🙂
Makes 2 x 24cm (9 – 10″) round cakes
Soaking: at least 24 hours
Preparation: 15 minutes
Baking: 60 – 70 minutes
600g 81 1/3 lb) dried fruit and nuts (see notes)
500ml (2 cups) brandy (see notes)
500g (4 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
250g (1 cup) raw (turbinado) sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking (bicarb) soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg, cardamom, mace and coriander
1/4 tsp ground cloves
250ml (1 cup) apple juice (see notes)
250ml (1 cup) sunflower or other neutral oil
4 Tbsp treacle or molasses
Combine all the dried fruit and nuts in a bowl, pour over the brandy and add enough hot water so everything is covered. Stir, cover and allow to soak for at least 24 hours at room temperature. Top up with water and/or brandy as needed to keep the fruit and nuts covered. Drain when ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2, with racks in the middle and lower thirds. Grease 2 x 24cm (9 – 10″) round springform cake pans with vegetable oil or non-stick spray and line the base and sides with parchment.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Toss through the drained fruit and nuts.
In a bowl, whisk together apple juice (or other liquid), oil and molasses.
Add liquid to flour mixture and stir just enough to combine, until there are no traces of flour visible.
Divide into prepared cake pans and smooth the surface.
Bake in middle and lower third of oven for 60 – 70 minutes, swapping racks every 20 minutes or so, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Start checking after 60 minutes.
Transfer pans to a wire rack and allow to cool to 15 minutes. Remove from pans, remove parchment and allow to cool completely. To remove parchment from bottoms, take another rack and place it on top of the cake, holding both racks with the cake between but in such a way that you don’t squash the cake, flip it over, remove the parchment, then repeat to turn it back right side up.
For the fruit & nut mixture, I used:
100g (2/3 cup) chopped dried apricots
100g (4/5 cup) dried cranberries
100g (2/3 cup) golden sultanas
100g (2/3 cup) raisins
100g (4/5 cup) slivered almonds
100g (2/3 cup) hazelnuts, chopped
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
You can replace the brandy and hot water with apple juice, if you don’t cook with alcohol.
You can replace the cup of apple juice with soy or nut milk for a slightly richer cake, orange juice for a tangier cake, or replace some or all of it with the soaking liquid drained from the fruit for a boozier flavour.
Store in an airtight container – it should keep for several weeks.