December 06, 2009

My Mom's Holiday Fruitcake

Back at home, the beginning of the holiday season is marked by when my mom begins baking her festive holiday fruitcakes, a rich cream cheese cake studded with an assortment of dried fruits, chopped nuts, and glacé cherries. A slice of this delicious cake is perfect alongside a cup of tea for an afternoon pick-me-up. During the recent Thanksgiving break, I asked my mom for a copy of the recipe as she baked one of these for me. A cake like this is too good not to share.


I think the first time I encountered "the fruitcake" was back in elementary school, maybe first or second grade. I was reading one of my favorite series at the time, Junie B. Jones, specifically Junie B. Jones and the Yucky Blucky Fruitcake. Junie won the fruitcake in the school cake walk and sadly discovered the only thing it was good for was as a doorstop. So from then on, I was naively under the impression that fruitcakes were indeed "yucky." Luckily not too long after, I discovered my mom's fruitcake, which cured me of this childhood delusion. This cake has a texture that is neither overly moist nor dry, neither heavy nor light. Instead, it falls in between these extremes, which creates a satisfyingly homey experience.


This is also a great cake to make as a holiday gift for friends and family. The recipe is uncomplicated, technique and ingredient-wise (the glacé cherries might be difficult to find when the holiday season is over, so definitely stock up in the winter when they're abundant, but any other dried fruit can be used in their place). The fruitcake is quite sturdy, perfect as a holiday party hostess gift wrapped up in red or green cellophane tied with festive gold ribbons. Little fruitcakes can be made in mini loaf pans. A round or square cake pan can be substituted for the loaf pan. The cake can be sliced up and gifted on ornate platters to display the contrast between the cream colored crumb and the colorful, jewel-like studs of fruits and nuts. As you can see, the versatility of this cake is remarkably unlimited.


My Mom's Cream Cheese Fruitcake
adapted from a family recipe handed down to me from my mom

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 t vanilla extract
3/4-1 cup sugar (adjust the sugar amount based on preference)
1 t salt
3 cups dried fruit & nut mix + 1/2 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the cream cheese. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, the baking powder, and the salt.

To make the fruit & nut mix, chop up an assortment of dried fruits and nuts of your choice. Typically, my mom uses raisins, pineapple, papaya, green & red glacé cherries, and pecans. Smaller dried fruits like raisins don't need to be cut, but dice up the other fruits and the nuts. Now measure out 3 cups worth of the mixture and mix it up with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour (this is done so that the fruits and nuts won't all sink to the bottom of your cake when baking).

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients; the batter will be quite thick. When barely any streaks remain, mix in the flour-covered fruit & nut mix. Only on few strokes of your spatula are needed; do not overmix. Spray a loaf pan (9x5 in) with nonstick spray and line the bottom of the pan with a rectangle of parchment paper. Scrape your batter into the loaf pan, smoothing the top.

Place the cake in the oven and let bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. If near the end of baking, the inside of the cake is still wet but the top is browning too quickly, cover the top with a sheet of foil. Let your cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooking.

30 comments:

  1. I can't wait for finals to be over (though it hasn't started yet...). I want to try some of these recipes during the break! :] gotta widen my skills from only knowing egg tarts.

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  2. Melody: Finals :(. But I'm glad you're gonna try the recipes. I'll be happy to help if you have questions!

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  3. Looks lovely and yummy! But what size loaf pan do you use? (There are several sizes possible.) 9x5? 8x4? Thanks.

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  4. This sounds WAY better than the usual fruitcakes we get around the holidays! I'll have to give it a try. Such pretty colors too!

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  5. Anonymous: Oops, I totally didn't think of that. Thanks for reminding me. I typically use a 9x5 loaf pan.

    Cookie: Thanks! Yeah, I love how Christmas-y the colors of the cake are :).

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  6. Wow. This fruit cake is gorgeous!

    I usually don't care for fruit cake but this one appears to be of the delicious variety.

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  7. Ms. Humble: Thanks! It seems most people I know have mixed feelings about fruitcake in general.

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  8. This looks amazing. I would make it, but I think my relatives would kill me for forsaking my great-great grandmother's bunloaf.

    Someday!

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  9. oh gosh, lol i read the same book in elementary school and have had that same opinion since.

    wow a kid's book ruined fruitcake for me all way until now!

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  10. StephwhY: Totally. Every time after reading that book, when I heard the word "fruitcake," I imagined this huge black brick holding a door open. But it is true that some fruitcakes can last for a really long time, cuz they're soaked in so much alcohol (which I guess wouldn't be too appreciated by little kids, haha).

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  11. As everyone has suspected, holiday fruitcakes really ARE dense enough to stop a speeding bullet. (With video.) Can a Fruitcake Stop a Bullet?

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  12. Colon: Haha, that's amazing. Thanks for sharing! Good to know that if someone doesn't like to eat fruitcakes, they can use the cakes for other purposes :).

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  13. Wow, what an amazing blog. I'm bookmarking this. Yummy!

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  14. I just made it and stuck it in the oven! I can't wait for it to come out. It's looking soooo good. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

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  15. Sherene: You're very welcome! Thanks for sharing! I really enjoy hearing about my readers trying out the recipes here.

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  16. I am trying your recipe today- I found the dried fruits I need and I have cream cheese this time. I'll let you know how it comes up and I'll post pictures somewhere we both post our creations:-)

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  17. Faye: Totally late reply, but it was cool to see the results of your cake! Thank you for sharing :).

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  18. Greetings from Canada.
    I have everything I need to make this cake, but am unsure exactly how much sugar is called for. Would you please clarify this?
    Thank you.

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  19. Anonymous: 3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar, depending on whether you use more dried fruit or not, sorry that it was so unclear, I just edited it :).

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  20. This looks like something I used to have when I was a kid and never really found a recipe for. Going to try this out! Will let you know how it goes :-) Thnx for the recipe!

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  21. Sneh: You're welcome. I hope it turned out well!

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  22. I have been making this fruitcake for at least 20 years. Even my most ardent fruit cake haters love this cake! This year I discovered I lost my old recipe card. Thank God for your website. Can't wait to get going again.
    CH

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  23. I just made this recipe tonight in mini loaf pans, it made 4 generous mini loaves (is there such a thing? LOL) They're still cooling but they look yummy, can't wait to try one!

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  24. The first batch turned out so well I made more today. I plan to give some of them away but my husband wants me to save as many as I can!

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  25. CH: Glad to hear that! But yes, even fruitcake haters can't resist this cake :).

    Anne: 4 chubby mini loaves then :P? I'm happy it turned out well!

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  26. this is a lovely cake :)

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  27. Wow this looks great! I am going to see if I can get the fruit so I can make one next week. I shure hope I don't have to wait untill the Christmas season!

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