Christmas Cake, a.k.a. not your grandmother’s fruit cake. This incredibly dense cake is packed with rum-soaked dried fruit and has tons of flavor!
My grandma was a huge cook and baker – she made so many amazing things both on Sundays and for holidays. I’ve come to find out since she passed away, however, that what I got to enjoy was merely the tip of the iceberg. There have been a number of traditional recipes that I’ve wanted to try, but learned that my grandma made many of them before my grandpap died, but after that, no one else really ate it, so she would stop making it. There have been SO many recipes that I’ve heard this about, and since my grandpap passed away when I was five, I don’t remember them at all.
Fruit cake is one of those long-lost recipes. I made this Christmas cake last week and when my mom tried a piece she said my grandma used to make it all of the time, but like so many other recipes, it was a favorite of my grandpap’s, but no one else ate it, so she stopped making it and she didn’t have a recipe. Such a bummer, but I think she would be thrilled with the version that I baked up!
Fruit cake usually conjures up memories of a dry, brick-like cake that was full of very suspicious fruit, but this version will make you do a double-take and wonder how you could ever think so poorly of fruit cake! The dried fruit in this cake is soaked in a bowl of rum for a full 24 hours, then mixed into a simple, spiced cake batter.
The result is a wonderfully dense and moist cake that weighs a ton and is full of fantastic flavor. I used spiced rum, but you can use your favorite type of rum, sherry, or brandy. You can also soak the fruit for longer than a day if you’d like!
I wish I could have had the opportunity to bake every single one of my grandma’s recipes with her, but I have no doubt she’s helping me along every time I tackle something new.
One year ago: Chocolate Chip Tea Cookies
Five years ago: Mini Cheesecake Cookies
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and grated
- 1½ cups (217.5 g) raisins
- 1½ cups (217.5 g) golden raisins
- 1 cup (149 g) chopped dried figs
- 1 cup (147 g) chopped dates
- ½ cup (65 g) chopped dried apricots
- ½ cup (54 g) slivered almonds
- 1¼ cups (300 ml) spiced rum
- 10½ ounces (297.67 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, (21 tablespoons)
- 1¼ cups (275 g) light brown sugar
- 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
- 4 eggs
- 2½ cups (312.5 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ cup (60 g) spiced rum, for drizzling
- Place the grated apples, raisins, golden raisins, figs, dates, apricots, almonds, and rum in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Cover and allow to soak in a cool, dark place for at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with a double layer of parchment paper; set aside.
- Place the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for 8 minutes - the mixture will become extremely light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and allspice into a large bowl. Add the soaked fruit and mix well with a rubber spatula, ensuring that all of the fruit is evenly coated with flour. Add the butter mixture and continue to stir and fold until the batter is completely combined.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Cover the top with a round of parchment paper and bake for 2 hours 15 minutes to 2 hours 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, remove the parchment from the top and drizzle the extra rum evenly all over the top of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan, then remove the sides, bottom and the parchment paper before serving. The cake can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Did you make this recipe?
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Excited to make this. Do we think substituting amaretto would work?
Ooooh yes, it absolutely would!
I’m alittle confused…. in the directions it says to store wrapped & in the fridge, but in the answer to Daphne.. you say you wouldn’t store it in the fridge…. did I miss something ?? I just want to make sure I’m doing the best thing for the cake.
Thanks for your help
Hi Abby, Daphne’s question was related to the fruit and rum soak, not the finished cake. Hope that helps!
I have only met one fruitcake that I liked, but I’ve also never made my own. I’m excited to give this a try!
Yum! You had me at rum soaked!
I bake every year a batch of fruit cake. I soak my fruits for months adding licor every few months. I dont know if is beter or not but taste great.
I’m sober, so no rum in my house. I seem to have an allergy, one sip and I might break out in handcuffs! LOL kust kidding!
For those who asked, I think that non-alcoholic versions soak the fruit in either apple juice or cider, or in orange juice.
Hi Beth, Thanks for the suggestion!
Looks magnificent! I just love Christmas cake but I don’t have a go-to recipe. Thanks for sharing!
I really want to try this recipe; it looks amazing! Do you know what I could use as a substitute for the rum? I know it is a major contributor to the recipe, but alcohol is troublesome.
Hi Melissa, Beth below has a great suggestion – apple cider, apple juice or orange juice.
What would you recommend for “storing in a cool dark place?” the basement? Or the fridge?
What brands of fruits do you use/recommend?
What could I use instead of rum as a substitute?
Hi Daphne, I just put it at the back of my counter where there isn’t much light. You could also put it in a pantry or closet of some sort. I wouldn’t put it in the fridge.
I use a variety of brands – Sunmaid raisins and apricots, Dole figs, the Costco brand of dates.
Per the recipe, you could use any other type of brandy or sherry in place of the rum.
This sounds yummy! I definitely want to try this recipe out. My grandma used to make stuff that her mom taught her but she didn’t teach my mom and she didn’t have a recipe card – we’ve lost lots of “family” recipes that way but I’m determined to make sure all of my mom’s “non-recipe” items that she has made over the years gets put down on paper!
What a wonderful way to honor your grandma. I’m sure she would be pleased to know you are continuing her legacy!
My mother would make a very dense, very dark, very bitter fruit cake filled with citron that was soaked in rum for days before it was ready to give away. I thought it tasted awful and could never understand why anyone would want it as a gift. She always served it at Christmas dinner and I would never eat it but what I loved was something she called “hard sauce”…a delicious blend of confectionary sugar, bitter and vanilla. In retrospect, it was like a formed buttercream icing . She shaped it into a log and topped each slice. I have to say, your Grandmother’s version looks yummy.