A common Christmastime tradition is fruitcake, and there’s so many varieties to choose from. My version is free of alcohol and loaded with both candied and dried fruit, as well as walnuts. Christmas Apricot and Walnut Fruitcake just might be your new favourite Christmas tradition!
Fruitcake was always present in our home when I was growing up. From the end of November until well into January, fruitcake was in full supply and ready for the taking. My mom used to make her fruitcakes in a bundt pan, which might be more traditional. And, she loved to use apricots in her cake, just like in this Christmas Apricot and Walnut Fruitcake.
I could not find my mom’s recipe, but this recipe is a take on Barry’s recipe. Barry is the man behind Rock Recipes. He’s a fellow Newfoundlander, and knows a thing or two about good fruitcake! His original recipe is as close as I could find to the cake my mom used to make.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS RECIPE:
- Dried Fruit – You will need raisins. I used golden raisins, because they are more plump and less sweet. But, you can use sultanas if that’s what you have on hand. You will also need dried apricots.
- Candied Fruit – A fruitcake isn’t a fruitcake at all without candied cherries. I used both red and green, as well as mixed peel.
- Walnuts – A whole cup of walnuts goes into this cake. I can’t imagine a fruitcake without either walnuts or pecans!
- Sugar – For sweetness.
- Salted Butter – This is like the glue that holds the cake together. Salted butter helps to balance out the flavours.
- Cream Cheese – For tanginess and moistness.
- Eggs – There are 4 eggs in this cake, so you know it’s going to be super moist!
- Vanilla Extract – You can use other extracts too, like almond or cherry.
- All Purpose Flour
- Baking Powder
BUNDT PAN OR LOAF PAN
I opted to make my fruitcake in loaf pans for two reasons. Firstly, a cake in the shape of a loaf pans is much easier to slice and looks more presentable, in my opinion. And, secondly, a loaf pan-sized fruitcake is much better for gift-giving. After all, fruitcakes are a very popular holiday time gift.
You can bake this cake in a bundt pan if you wish. Or, you can use a loaf pan like I did. If you use a loaf pan, you’ll get at least two loaves – depending on the size of you pans. Whatever pan or size you use, remember to only fill the pan 3/4 full!
If you’re using a bundt pan, all of the batter will fit into a 10-cup pan. The bundt pan will take a little longer to cook all the way though, because there’s just more batter. Be sure to check with a toothpick to see if the cake is done before removing it from the oven. Whichever you choose to use, just know that while your cake is baking, the candied and dried fruit is creating a lot of steam inside the cake. Cracking on the top is completely normal!
FRUITCAKE – ICING OR PLAIN?
Here in Canada, fruitcake is commonly known as a Christmas cake and commonly consumed during the Christmas season. Truth be told, it is rarely seen during any other time of the year. Unless, of course, you end up soaking it in brandy or rum and then it will last much longer. I remember finding fruitcake at the bottom of my freezer in August and it still tasted fine. Although, I admit, I threw it out, because I’m a stickler for best before dates!
The Canadian fruitcake is similar in style to the UK version, however, there is rarely icing on the cake and alcohol is not commonly put in Christmas cakes. The cakes also tend to be void of any decorations and are shaped like a small loaf of bread.
Dark, moist, and rich Christmas cakes are the most frequently consumed, with white Christmas cake rarely seen. These cakes tend to be made in mid-November to early December when the weather starts to cool down. They are a staple during Christmas dinner and a gift generally exchanged between business associates and close friends and family.
WHERE CAN I FIND CANDIED FRUIT?
The best place to find candied fruit is the Paradise Fruit Company. The company is located in Florida, but you can buy the products online. Whenever I bake with candied fruits or peels, I use Paradise product.
You can find candied cherries in grocery stores and baking supply shops, and I used to do that too. But the quality of the fruit, and especially the colour and taste, is so much better at Paradise. For this recipe I used Paradise’s candied red cherries, candied green cherries, and candied orange peel.
DRIED AND CANDIED FRUIT MAKE THIS CAKE SUPER MOIST!
Now, even though fruitcake was a common occurrence in our home, I would never partake of it. I thought the idea of dried and candied cherries and fruits baked into a cake was just plain gross. I wouldn’t be caught dead eating it.
It’s only been the past two or three Christmases that I’ve tried the candied cherries and learned that they were quite delicious. And, I’ve been a fan of dried apricots for a long time. I even eat those as a snack! Now, I make it a goal to bake at least two or three things every holiday season with dried and candied fruits being the star of the recipe.
BEAUTY ISN’T EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE!
When I finished baking this cake, I was so excited at how lovely it turned out. I marveled at how well the fruits and nuts were dispersed throughout the cake and how festive and colourful it looked. In my state of excitement, I exclaimed to McKenna that she simply had to try a piece – even though she told me that she did not like fruitcake. I thought that she was just like me when I was her age, afraid to try anything new.
She gave in a took a bite. But her reaction was just as mine would have been if I had given in to my mother’s begging and pleading when I was fourteen years old. Her palette is just not ready for complex tastes. She still likes frozen pizza – what can I say!?
I do hope, Dear Reader, that you’ll consider making this fruitcake. Unlike some fruitcake recipes, it’s not daunting and overwhelming and you don’t need to babysit the oven for hours on end. Christmas Apricot and Walnut Fruitcake is simple, inexpensive and very tasty. Make this fruitcake a part of your family’s Christmas tradition as well!
Christmas Apricot and Walnut Fruitcake
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- 2 cups dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups glace cherries, roughly chopped (I used one cup red and one cup green)
- 1 cup mixed peel
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Prepare to loaf pans by lightly coating with non-stick cooking spray and lining with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a sauce pan, over medium heat, combine 1/4 cup white sugar, the chopped apricots, raisins, and the water. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In the meantime, cream together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and the remaining 1 cup sugar.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.
- Add the cooled apricot and raisin mixture, including the liquid. Mix well.
- Add the flour and baking powder. Mix well.
- Fold in the cherries, peel, and walnuts.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pans. Tap the pans on the counter top to ensure the cake batter has settled into the corners.
- Bake for 55 minutes. Check to see if the loaves are done by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the loaves are done; if not, then bake for an additional 5 minutes and try the toothpick test again.
- Once the cakes are done, remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before transferring out of the loaf pans to a wire cooling rack. Allow cakes to completely cool before slicing.
Recipe inspired by Rock Recipe’s Apricot Fruitcake