Save Room for Dessert…Christmas Cake

I love fruitcake, in fact, I’ve always loved fruitcake, even as a kid.  Weird kid, I know.  Anyway, I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone loves fruitcake; I suppose it’s likely that more people dislike fruitcake than not.  However, this cake, which I’ve cleverly renamed as Christmas Cake, could possibly turn a fruitcake hater into, well, maybe not a fruitcake lover, but perhaps someone who likes fruitcake.  It’s chockful of big red raisins, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.  Everyone who takes a bite always says the same thing, “this tastes like Christmas!”  And, it does, it’s a wonderful cake.  The recipe is actually an adaptation of many war cake recipes that I found a few years ago when I was doing some research for a library program.  During war, items such as butter, milk, and eggs are rationed, so cakes from war times were made sans expensive ingredients.  All of the recipes I found contained shortening, some used brown sugar, others used granulated sugar, none of them had eggs or milk, but they all had nuts and raisins.  I’ve made many versions of the cake, and this is my favorite version thus far.  I use butter rather than shortening and granulated sugar instead of brown.  Dried cranberries have been added along with the raisins, and while walnuts were very common in the original recipes, I used pecans.  I also add an entire ground orange, which appeared in a few of the recipes, but not all.  I love the hint of citrus flavor.  For an impressive look, not to mention, truly over the top deliciousness, drizzle on a brown sugar glaze…drool-worthy.

Christmas Cake
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 navel orange, ground in food processor
2 cups raisins
2 cups dried cranberries
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
Brown sugar glaze, optional

  • In a large pot, combine water, sugar, butter, raisins, dried cranberries, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer; continue to cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
  • When mixture is cool, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Butter & flour a Bundt pan and set aside.
  • Whisk flour and baking soda together.  Add to cooled mixture, mixing well.  Stir in pecans.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 75-90 minutes, or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for 15 minutes in pan before inverting onto a dish.  Cool completely before drizzling with glaze or slicing.