Alton Brown’s Fruit Cake

Fruit Cake

Post updated on 6th January 2021 –

For last year’s (2020) batch of fruit cake, I had pre-soaked the dried fruits in rum for 3 weeks. I used a big jar for it, and gave it a good shake every 4-5 days. I got a lovely color which I believe resulted from pre-soaking the dried fruits.

Alton Brown's Fruit Cake

Holidays are here. I am not baking as much like I had planned to. Half of my counter-top is cluttered with various baking supplies. I had been bookmarking recipes for almost two months and had a pretty long list of Holiday baking. Unfortunately, I am still nursing a sore arm (from flared up tennis elbow), which starts hurting at the slightest notion of work. Talk about bad timing! But I did manage to bake some fruit cakes and some sugar cookies with little help from the husband. I followed Alton Brown’s ‘Free Range Fruit Cake‘ recipe almost to the tee, with a little change here and there. Preposterous, I know! Altering the recipe of Alton Brown! But for once I wanted to enjoy my fruit cake without having to dig out the assortment of nuts I am allergic to. Also, I thought I had no allspice berries so used ground Jamaican allspice instead. I completely forgot about the bottle of whole mulling spices that I had picked up from Wholefoods. All I had to do was fish out a few and pounded it away to glory. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I have been pretty muddled in the noggin. Duh!

I baked small loaf pans and mini bundt pans, so it took me less time than it would have if I had baked the entire thing together.

Alton Brown's Fruit Cake


  • Golden Raisins – 1 Cup
  • Currants – 1 Cup
  • Dried Cranberries – 1/2 Cup
  • Dried Blueberries – 1/2 Cup
  • Dried Cherries – 1/2 Cup
  • Dried Apricots – 1/2 Cup, coarsely chopped
  • Zest of one large lemon
  • Zest and juice of one large orange
  • Candied Ginger – 1/4 Cup, chopped
  • Rum – 1 Cup (I used Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum ** see notes)
  • Granulated Sugar – 1 Cup
  • Butter – 1 1/4 Stick, unsalted
  • Unfiltered Apple Juice – 1 Cup (you can use apple cider as well)
  • Ground Jamaican Allspice – 1 1/4 tsp (or 4 whole cloves and 8 whole allspice berries, ground)
  • Ground Cinnamon – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Ground Ginger – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Ground Nutmeg – 1/4 tsp
  • All Purpose Flour – 1 3/4 Cup
  • Almond Flour – 2 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Baking Soda – 1 tsp
  • Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  • Eggs – 2 large, at room temperature
  • Chopped Almonds – 1/2 Cup (original recipe asked for toasted pecans, roughly chopped. You can use walnuts as well)
  • Brandy or Rum for basting or spritzing – I used brandy to baste my cakes (**see notes)
Alton Brown's Fruit Cake
  • If you are using 1 cup of the spiced rum to pre-soak the dried fruits and nuts, reduce either spiced rum or apple cider/unfiltered apple juice to 1/2 cup
  • Baste/Spritz the cake(s) only if those appear dry.
If you are not pre-soaking, then mix the dried fruits, orange and lemon zests, and candied ginger together in a bowl and add the rum and orange juice and let it macerate overnight. Alternately, you can nuke the rum & fruit mixture in the microwave for 5 or 6 minutes to re-hydrate the fruits. I prefer macerating it overnight.
In a medium saucepan, bring the rum & fruit mixture along with the apple juice, sugar, butter and spices to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool for at least 15 or 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 F.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. I prefer using a fine-mesh sieve to sift the dry ingredients. Now add the dry ingredients to the cooled down fruit mixture and using a wooden spoon bring everything together gently. Stir in the eggs, one by one till completely incorporated and and then fold in the nuts. Spoon the batter into greased and floured (you can use cocoa powder to ‘flour’ instead of all-purpose flour) loaf pan and bake for an hour.  Insert a toothpick in the middle to check for done-ness. If it comes out clean, you are done. If not, keep baking in increments of 5 minutes.
I used 4 small loaf pans and 2 mini bundt pans which I greased and floured, started checking every 5 minutes after 30 minutes. The mini bundt cakes were done in 35 minutes and the mini loaf pans took about 40 minutes.
Once done, take the pans out of the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack before trying to take the cakes out of the pans. Cover in cling wrap followed by aluminum foil and store in a cool, dry place.
Baste or spritz with brandy or rum after a week if the cake looks dry. I let the cakes develop its flavors for about 7 to 10 days before gifting them to friends. If possible, allow 2-3 weeks time, basting and sprtizing as required.
I am sending this to Kolkata Food Bloggers’ Christmas event.

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