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.
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.
Here in Canada, the fruit cake 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. The Canadian fruit cake 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.
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 glace cherries and learned that they were quite delicious. 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.
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 well 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!
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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. 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
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