World’s Best Fruit Cake
Classic fruit cake made with soaked unsweetened dried fruit. A festive, flavorful, and moist fruit cake to enjoy all holiday season. This family recipe will make you a fruit cake convert! This post is sponsored by All-Clad.
If you recognize today’s dessert, you deserve a pat on the back!
As hard as it is to believe, I first shared this fruit cake recipe back in 2013. It has been a holiday staple in our household for as long as I can remember. Christmas isn’t Christmas without several slices of my mom’s famous fruit cake!
Nearly six years have passed and since then, it has become one of the most popular holiday recipes on A Beautiful Plate.
If you’re a fruit cake cynic, hear me out! This is the best fruit cake in the world – and the only fruit cake that I’ve ever loved and enjoyed.
While this recipe has received rave reviews and become a staple for many readers, I’ve teamed up with All-Clad to showcase their new Pro-Release Bakeware Set and Silicone Tools, and give this fruit cake recipe a new and improved update for the holiday season.
This fruit cake recipe features their All-Clad Pro-Release Loaf Pan. All of the All-Clad Pro-Release bakeware pieces feature oversized, easy-to-grab handles, and a nonstick (PFOA-free) finish that releases baked goods effortlessly.
This fruit cake batter is sticky and packed with dried fruit pieces, which means that it can be prone to sticking, and thanks to the ceramic, easy release coating, I didn’t have to grease or line the loaf pan with parchment paper. The fruit cakes just slid out without issue. The holidays are hectic enough without worrying about your baked goods sticking!
If you’re looking for durable and high-quality bakeware for yourself (or to gift to others!), I highly recommend checking out the full All-Clad Pro-Release Bakeware Set! You can get more information here.
All-Clad also came out with a wonderful collection of silicone tools that pair with the bakeware set. Their durable handles and platinum silicone heads, which come in a variety of shapes, are great for any baking project (or savory preparation) and have quickly become my favorite baking tools.
The bones of the original fruit cake recipe have remained the same, but it has been re-tested thoroughly.
Several ingredients have been revamped and simplified to make it easier to prepare in your own kitchen.
I’ve also added custom metric measurements to make it accessible to everyone. As you know, I’m a huge advocate for baking scales, particularly for baking. It reduces clean-up and common user errors, such as over measuring flour.
Let’s get baking!
Why You’ll Love this Fruit Cake Recipe:
The words ‘world’s best’ and fruit cake are generally not seen as compatible with one another. After all, fruit cake is one of the most ridiculed baked goods in existence!
You know those ones that are sold in the stores or sent as gifts at this time of the year? The ones that contain the neon candied fruit pieces? I despise those fruit cakes too!
Most fruit cakes are dry, overly sweet, and bland in flavor.
This fruit cake is not your average fruit cake recipe. It is the BEST! Made with wholesome, real ingredients, this fruit cake is moist and perfectly balanced in flavor.
The Story Behind The World’s Best Fruit Cake:
This fruit cake recipe has been passed onto me from my mom. It was first inspired my British grandmother’s recipe. My mom has tweaked and perfected it over the years.
At one point, my mom even attempted a very short-lived fruit cake business – that is until she realized that it is one of those expensive desserts to make (dried fruit and booze!) and she would have to charge a fortune to break even.
With that said, this fruit cake is absolutely worth it!
How to Make The Best Fruit Cake:
This fruit cake recipe, which yields two standard loaf cakes, is all about the dried fruit. We’ll be using only unsweetened dried and fresh fruit for this recipe.
This fruit cake contains a ton of dried fruit. Don’t be alarmed! This recipe uses a wide variety of tart and sweeter dried fruit: golden raisins, dark raisins, figs, prunes, cherries, apricots, and peaches.
To cut the sweetness and add amazing flavor, we’ll soak the dried fruit mixture in dark rum the day before baking. Note: I recommend soaking the fruit for a minimum of 12 hours or as long as 24 hours.
The dried fruit will hydrate and plump up and soak up all of the dark rum during this time. Don’t skip this step!
The soaked dried fruit is folded into the fruit cake batter the following day.
For added flavor, we’ll also be adding orange and lemon zest, orange juice, fresh grated Granny Smith apple, slivered almonds, and diced crystallized ginger (one of my favorite additions!).
You can even add bittersweet chocolate, which is my dad and sister’s favorite variation!
The fruit cake batter is transferred and divided between two loaf pans and baked in a loaf tin at a low temperature for nearly an hour and a half.
If you’re using the loaf pan I’m using from All-Clad, no need to grease the pan or add any parchment paper!
Since this cake has a such a large ratio of dried fruit, we’ll allow the fruit cakes to cool completely in the loaf pans before removing them.
How to Store Homemade Fruit Cake:
After the cakes have cooled, we’ll wrap them tightly in cheesecloth soaked in medium sherry or triple sec. Have I mentioned that this cake is boozy? Because it is.
This step contributes additional moisture, as well as allows the flavors in the cake to meld and deepen over time. The alcohol cuts sweetness and makes this cake so fragrant and delicious!
Some people recommend aging fruit cake for at least a month prior to serving or gifting, but this is not required for this fruit cake. I recommend at week at minimum. However, even just a few days make a huge impact!
These fruit cakes can be stored in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 weeks (or longer!). I recommend re-soaking the cheesecloth every week or so, or whenever it is dry.
Commonly Asked Fruit Cake Baking Questions:
When should I starting baking fruit cake?
Since this fruit cake only improves in flavor as it sits, the sooner the better! I recommend wrapping it with cheesecloth (soaked in alcohol) for one to two weeks, at minimum, for best flavor before serving or gifting.
Can I substitute or use other types of dried fruit?
I’ve included my favorite ratios in the recipe below – as they offer a good balance of tart and sweeter fruits – but you can adapt it to make it your own. If making substitutions, I highly recommend measuring by weight to avoid any issues.
Can I make this fruitcake without alcohol?
While the flavor will not be the same or as originally intended, you can try soaking the dried fruit in orange juice (or even apple juice or hot steeped tea, such as Earl Grey). I haven’t personally tested this variation, but functionally it will plump up the dried fruit in the same way. You will need to skip the soaking of the cake as well, which is absolutely fine, but will result in a less complex flavor, slightly drier cake (though this cake is very moist!) and will reduce its storage life slightly.
How many servings does this recipe make?
This cake yields two loaf cakes. Perfect for keeping one to yourself and another for gifting (or saving for later, your personal choice!).
Since this cake is very dense and rich, one loaf cake goes a long way. We use a serrated knife to cut it into thin slices or cut regular slices in half. It tastes fantastic on its own or with a smear of salted butter!
Can I bake this fruitcake in a smaller loaf tins, round cake pan, etc.?
This cake has only been tested using loaf pans, but several readers have had luck with preparing this recipe in a bundt or tube pan – roughly it will take around 75 minutes minimum. Please watch bake time carefully. Please know that baking times and results will vary. I do not recommend making equipment substitutions, as I haven’t personally tested these adaptations.
Hope this fruit cake recipe becomes a family staple! If you enjoyed the recipe, I’d love for you to leave a review in the comment section below.
Thank you All-Clad for sponsoring this post!
World's Best Fruit Cake
Soaked Fruit Mixture:
- 1¼ cups (200 g) dark raisins
- 1¼ cups (200 g) golden raisins
- 2 cups (320 g) mixed unsweetened dried fruit, chopped (note: I like to use equal parts peaches and apricots - pears or apples are other great options!)
- 1 cup (160 g) dried unsweetened black figs chopped
- 1 cup (160 g) dried unsweetened tart cherries chopped
- ¾ cup (120 g) dried unsweetened prunes chopped
- ¾ cup (6 oz; 180 mL) dark rum
Fruit Cake Ingredients:
- 1½ cups (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 stick (4 oz; 115 g) unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup (160 g) packed light brown sugar
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
- ½ cup (120 mL) freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 Granny Smith apple peeled and coarsely grated
- ¾ cup (90 g) slivered almonds (or chopped pecans or walnuts)
- 3 tablespoons (36 g) finely diced crystallized ginger
- one batch soaked fruit mixture see above
- ⅔ cup (100 g) chopped bittersweet chocolate or dark chocolate chips optional
- medium sherry or triple sec for soaking
Decorative Glaze (Optional):
- ¼ cup (72 g) apricot preserves
- ¼ cup (60 mL) water
- whole pecans for garnishing
- The Day Before Baking: Combine the dried fruit in a large mixing bowl. Add the dark rum, cover, and allow the mixture to soak at room temperature for a minimum of 12 hours, or ideally 24 hours prior to preparing the fruit cake batter.
- Prepare the Fruitcake: Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) with a rack in the center position. Set aside two 8x4-inch All Clad Pro-Release Bakeware Loaf Pans. If using these pans, you do not need to line or grease the pans prior to adding the batter. Equipment Note: This fruitcake can also be prepared using 9x5-inch loaf pans. If using other types of pans, lightly grease and line with parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and light brown sugar together over medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating just until each egg is incorporated. The mixture will look slightly broken, that’s ok.
- Over low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until just absorbed. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Add the lemon zest, orange zest, fresh orange juice, grated apple, slivered almonds, diced candied ginger, soaked dried fruit mixture (along with any liquid if it hasn’t already been absorbed), and chocoate (if using). Stir mixture with a large spatula, scraping the edges and bottom of the bowl several times, until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. It is a very thick, fruit heavy mixture.
- Transfer and divide the batter evenly among the loaf pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth the batter into an even layer. Set the loaf pans on the center rack, several inches apart from one another. Bake - rotating the pans halfway - for 75 to 90 minutes or until the batter is set and the tops are golden brown. The edges of the cake may also start to pull away slightly from the edges of the pan. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely before removing from the pans.
- Storing and Aging: Once the cake has cooled, carefully remove the cakes from the loaf pans and set upright. Soak two large pieces of cheesecloth in medium sherry or triple sec (*they should be lightly damp, not soaking wet when you wrap the cakes, so you may need to squeeze out any excess liquor). Wrap each cake tightly. Cover loafs with wax paper and foil before transferring to a large Ziploc bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 to 8 weeks (it can often last even longer). You can serve this cake right after it has cooled, but the flavors improve greatly with time (I recommend several days or up to a week, at minimum). Unwrap and re-soak the cheesecloth once a week.
- For Garnishing: If desired, you can top the fruitcake with a light apricot glaze and whole pecans before serving. Note: I don't recommend glazing the cake if you wish to continue to wrap and age the fruitcake. To Prepare the Glaze: Combine the apricot preserves and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a light simmer, stirring until the glaze is shiny and thin. If it is too thin for glazing, reduce to desired consistency. If it becomes too thick, add a teaspoon of water. Brush the tops of the fruitcakes with apricot glaze and garnish with whole pecans.
- Serving Notes: Slice fruit cake with a serrated knife. Serve on its own or spread with a small amount of salted butter.
Tips for Success:
- Be sure to use unsweetened dried fruit for best results.
- Many readers have had success substituting different varieties of dried fruit in this recipe; if doing this, please keep in mind the tartness and sweetness of various fruits for good balance.
Commonly Asked Questions:
- When should I starting baking fruit cake? Since this fruit cake only improves in flavor as it sits, the sooner the better! I recommend wrapping it with cheesecloth (soaked in alcohol) for one to two weeks, at minimum, for best flavor before serving or gifting.
- Can I substitute or use other types of dried fruit? I’ve included my favorite ratios in the recipe below - as they offer a good balance of tart and sweeter fruits - but you can adapt it to make it your own. If making substitutions, I highly recommend measuring by weight to avoid any issues.
- Can I make this fruitcake without alcohol? While the flavor will not be the same or as originally intended, you can try soaking the dried fruit in orange juice (or even apple juice or hot steeped tea, such as Earl Grey). I haven’t personally tested this variation, but functionally it will plump up the dried fruit in the same way. You will need to skip the soaking of the cake as well, which is absolutely fine, but will result in a less complex flavor, slightly drier cake (though this cake is very moist!) and will reduce its storage life slightly.
- How many servings does this recipe make? This cake yields two loaf cakes. Perfect for keeping one to yourself and another for gifting (or saving for later, your personal choice!). Since this cake is very dense and rich, one loaf cake goes a long way. We use a serrated knife to cut it into thin slices or cut regular slices in half. It tastes fantastic on its own or with a smear of salted butter!
- Can I bake this fruitcake in a smaller loaf tins, round cake pan, etc.? This cake has only been tested using loaf pans, but several readers have had luck with preparing this recipe in a bundt or tube pan - roughly it will take around 75 minutes minimum. Please watch bake time carefully. Please know that baking times and results will vary. I do not recommend making equipment substitutions, as I haven't personally tested these adaptations.
This post is sponsored by All-Clad. Thank you for supporting brands I love and use in my kitchen.