Note: This fruit cake recipe was first published in 2013 – I’ve updated the recipe and photos (though you can still find the original recipe at the very bottom of the page). I hope you’ll give this new and improved recipe a try this holiday season. It’s one of my favorites!
This spiced holiday fruit cake is festive, flavorful, and incredibly delicious! It’s made with a brown sugar caramel sauce, and packed with rum-soaked dried fruit, citrus zest, nuts, and spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. This classic Christmas dessert will become a family favorite – a must-have for your holiday dessert table.
The Best Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe
I understand fruit cake has a bad reputation, so let’s call this a boozy Christmas cake instead. Ahhh, that already sounds so much better. Whatever preconceived notion you may have about fruit cake — throw it out the window. Because I’m telling you, THIS is not that. If you like rum and sugar, you will like this cake.
With a crisp and sugary crust and perfectly moist and tender crumb – this cake defies its reputation. Packed with rum-soaked fruit, this spirited cake isn’t one to shy away from spices. One bite of this, and I promise you’ll think – “wow, I’ve never had a cake so flavorful.”
“This recipe is *incredible.* I’ve made it three years in a row and now make double batches because my mom will actually eat it out of the pan with her arm protectively cradling it so no one else can get at it. I’m the only person who eats paleo in my family and this is an unqualified success with everyone. It will change your idea of what fruitcake is and explain why people used to eat it for holidays. Seriously, what else can I say….you have to make it!”C
“This was one of the best fruit cakes I’ve had!!! Delicious and not too heavy!!”Raseel
Fruit Cake Ingredients:
- Dried Fruit: I buy dried fruit from Trader Joes – they have an amazing selection. I prefer using a combination of golden raisins (aka sultanas), chopped figs, cherries, cranberries, blueberries. The choice is yours!
- Rum: I prefer using Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. Bacardi Gold works too. Use what you like here.
- Nuts: I like using raw pistachio halves for the bright green color they add to the cake; hazelnuts and pecans are great too.
- Lemon Zest: make sure only to use the colored portion of the rind.
- Orange Zest: make sure only to use the colored portion of the rind.
- Brown Sugar
- Apple Juice
- Butter or Ghee
- Spices: ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground cloves, freshly grated nutmeg
- Almond Flour: almond flour makes the cake rich, buttery, and decadent.
- Coconut Flour: coconut flour helps to absorb the caramel and rum.
- Tapioca Flour: tapioca flour helps bind the ingredients together and adds some lightness to the cake.
- Baking Soda
- Powdered Sugar: sprinkle some on the cake when it’s done! It looks like snow 🙂
- Note: if you’d like to substitute the almond flour, coconut flour, and tapioca flour with an all-purpose gluten-free flour, you can do so. It’ll still turn out great, though I do prefer my blend.
“I made this exactly as written, I used dates, golden raisins and dried cherries as well as pistachios. I baked it in a Bundt pan with a removable bottom. I wasn’t sure how much I would like it due to the spices as I’m not normally a fan of cloves etc. but it came out excellent! The spices were not overwhelming, the texture was perfect and it was very flavorful!!!”Eileen
How to Make Fruit Cake:
This cake requires a bit of planning – you’ll want to soak dried fruit in rum for at least one night – up to a week if you have the time.
Once your fruit is ready to go – you’ll make a caramel sauce on the stovetop. Heat up some brown sugar, apple juice, ghee, and spices in a saucepan and let it bubble up into a thick caramel-like sauce. Then, add the rum-soaked fruit and cook some more.
When it’s done, let it cool on the stove – it’ll look something like this once cool:
Add the flours, baking soda, and eggs to a bowl and mix well.
Then add the rum caramel mixture to the bowl and mix well.
Pour it all into a greased 7-inch Cheesecake Pan. I also suggest putting a circle of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan for easy removal. Now all that’s left is to bake and wait!
How to Serve Christmas Fruit Cake:
This fruit cake is rich, moist, and full of flavor – so there’s no need to serve anything with it. Though I’ll say, a latte or cup of Chai goes nicely. Some homemade whipped cream on the side would also be amazing.
Before serving, top with powdered sugar! Look at this fruit cake, such a beauty – and it tastes so special – a worthy dessert for a festive occasion.
Looking for More Holiday Recipes? Try These:
Rum-Infused Dried Fruit:
- 1 ½ cup dried fruit Suggestion: ½ c golden raisins, ¼ cup chopped figs or dates, ¼ cup cherries, ¼ cup cranberries, ¼ cup blueberries
- 1 cup rum suggestion: Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
- ⅓ cup nuts of choice I prefer pistachio halves for color and flavor, hazelnuts and pecans are great too
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest only colored portion of rind, grated
- 1 teaspoon orange zest only colored portion of rind, grated
- 200 grams brown sugar (1 cup packed)
- 4 ounces apple juice (½ cup)
- 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Big pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 144 grams almond flour (1 ½ cup)
- 56 grams coconut flour (½ cup)
- 30 grams tapioca flour (¼ cup)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 eggs room temperature
- Powdered Sugar
- Add everything listed under “rum-infused fruit” to an air-tight container. Let this mixture soak overnight or up to 1 week (this will help plump up the fruit).
- To prepare the caramel sauce, add everything listed under “caramel sauce” to a saucepan over medium to high heat. Whisk for about 5 minutes – keep a close eye on it – it'll bubble up.
- Add the rum-soaked dried fruit mixture to the saucepan and let it cook for another 5 minutes – make sure to continue to stir to prevent burning.
- Turn off the stove and allow the mixture to cool on the stove.
- In a bowl, add the almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, and baking soda and mix well. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Fold in the fruit mixture until well combined, then spoon the batter into a greased 7-inch cake pan with a removable bottom (I also like to add a circle of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan for easy removal).
- Bake for 350F for 1 hour – check on it around the halfway mark and cover with foil to prevent the top from getting too brown.
- If you’d like to substitute the almond flour, coconut flour, and tapioca flour with multipurpose gluten-free flour, you can replace those three with 320 grams or 2 cups of gluten-free flour. I personally prefer my blend, but this works well too.
For Those Who Want My Recipe from 2013:
I first published this recipe on December 16, 2013. I’m keeping the older version of my recipe here for those who’ve been making it for years. Please see above for the updated version – it tastes the same, but holds up much better. I’ve improved my baking skills since first sharing this recipe.
- 1 ½ cup dried fruit chopped (I used ½ c homemade tutti frutti mix, ½ c golden raisins, ½ c dates)
- 1 cup rum I used bacardi gold
- 1/3 cup pistachios chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest only colored portion of rind, grated or minced
- 1 teaspoon orange zest only colored portion of rind, grated or minced
For the Caramel Sauce:
- Add the fruit, rum, pistachios and zest to an air-tight container. Let this mixture soak overnight or up to 1 week (this will help plump up the fruit).
- To prepare the caramel sauce, add coconut sugar and water to a saucepan over low heat. Stir until it forms a thick caramel sauce.
- Next, add apple juice, ghee and spices to the pan and raise the heat to medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes – keep a close eye on mixture and stir often.
- Add the rum-soaked dried fruit mixture and bring the pot to a simmer for 5-6 minutes. Turn off the stove and allow the mixture to cool on stove. Once cool, taste and adjust sweetness.
- In a bowl, add the almond flour, coconut flour and baking soda and mix well. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Fold in the completely cooled fruit mixture and spoon into a loaf pan.
- Bake for 325 degrees for 35-45 minutes if baking in mini loaf pans.*
- If making cupcakes, bake for approx. 25 minutes.
- If making in one large loaf pan cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Be sure to check the cake with a toothpick to see if it’s done.