Free Range Fruitcake

10 slices
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup sun dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sun dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sun dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
  • Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
  • 1 cup gold rum
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
  • 4 whole cloves, ground
  • 6 allspice berries, ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken
  • Brandy for basting and/or spritzing

Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests. Add rum and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit.

Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice and spices. Bring mixture to a boil stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes. (Batter can be completed up to this point, then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before completing cake.)

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture. Quickly bring batter together with a large wooden spoon, then stir in eggs one at a time until completely integrated, then fold in nuts. Spoon into a 10-inch non-stick loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done. If not, bake another 10 minutes, and check again.

Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack or trivet. Baste or spritz top with brandy and allow to cool completely before turning out from pan.

When cake is completely cooled, seal in a tight sealing, food safe container. Every 2 to 3 days, feel the cake and if dry, spritz with brandy. The cake's flavor will enhance considerably over the next two weeks. If you decide to give the cake as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient that they are very lucky indeed.

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    I have tweaked it a bit according to ingredients that are available locally. I use brandy. I use it for my wedding cakes and many a wedding cake hater (in my country people use fruit cake for weddings mostly) loooove my cake. Even other cakers admit that mine is yummier.
    Sorry you missd it but in his video Alton Brown does specifically say to make sure it has cooled to room temp before you add the flour mixture to the fruit mixture. Other wise you will have a gooey mess.
    I had never made fruit cake before. This recipe was so wonderful. My husband loved it as well.
    I hated fruitcake for most of my life because I couldn't stand the hard little rock like things hey tied to pass off as fruit in most fruitcakes. Then my mom found a good one at a local department store that we used to have each year until they quit carrying it because it was too expensive. Then a few years later I was watching AB's show on free range fruitcake and said I had to try this. It was fabulous! I make two cakes from each recipe and since I had invested in the ingredients I made two recipes and gave some to friends. The cakes were so well received that I made more the next year. Over time I have experimented with using other fruits as well. I start before thanksgiving. I have several friends who actually remind me that they want one in early December. I am thīnking of incorporating cherry Kjafka wine somehow. Maybe to macerate the fruit. 
    This is the best fruitcake recipe - no need to look any further 
    I hated fruitcake until I made this one. I have given it to others with rave reviews. In fact, I get numerous requests every year. I procrastinated this year and didn't get around to making the cakes until less than a week before Christmas and people still raved.
    One of the best recipes for fruitcake ever. Make it months ahead and you will be overjoyed. The best part is not one bit of the gacky candied fruit that tastes only of sugar is used. It's dec. 29th and I'm jut gearing up to start next year's batch.
    I saw all the 5-star ratings and thought this must be a great recipe. I was concerned that the recipe called for boiling the fruit and adding flour to a mixture that hadn't completely cooled, but I figured Alton Brown knew better than me. So I spent lots of money on the best fruit and whole spices, and forged ahead. When I saw the fruit start to turn to mush during the boiling and simmering step I got concerned. When I added the flour to the still hot mixture (which I had let cool for twice as long as called for in the recipe) I knew it was going to be a disaster, since I instantly got glue instead of batter. There was nothing to lose at this point so I baked it anyway. It came out better than I thought because it was still edible. Flavorless and pasty, but edible. I had tried another online recipe which came out flavorful and moist and delicious; do yourself and your pocketbook a favor and find a recipe worthy of the expense, there are many of them out there.
    I have prepared this cake numerous times with none of the problems mentioned. I have given this cake to many people who have raved about how good it is. I usually double the recipe and use 5-3/4 x 4-1/4 x 2" aluminum pans (recipe yields about nine mini fruitcakes). This year I made the cakes less than a week from Christmas and they were still delicious; much to my surprise.
    JIrving if you watched his video he did say not to add the flour until the mixture until it had cooled. Other wise you would have a gooey mess. Since the flour would cook when it hit the hot or warm mixture. He states make sure it is at room temp.  
    Sorry you missed that... :(
    If all fruitcake tasted like this they would never have such a bad rep.
    Absolutely delicious! Best fruitcake recipe I've ever used, and there have been several over the years. Thanks, Alton!
    I made this yesterday & made a few changes. I added 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tea vanilla & a TB of molasses. I didn't have any rum so soaked dried fruit in red wine, it was a big hit with my family, great recipe :-)
    I double the recipe and have used thus for the past three years... It's amazing and gets better with ever baste of brandy...Alton, you renewed my faith in what fruitcake should be....thank you~~~
    Since this recipe first debuted on Good Eats, It has become a tradition in my household. I seriously make AT LEAST one loaf a year, but often more for parties and family gatherings. I had NEVER liked any fruit cake before I tried this. Love it SO much.
    Quick question -- can you wrap the cakes in plastic wrap for a month or so during the brandy-spritzing period? 
    I LOVE this recipe. Made it for my mom last year and now am being demanded to make it for aunts and uncles too! Thanks, Alton!
    Mine was wrapped in a (clean) rag inside a Ziploc for a year. I'm actually gearing up for a quad recipe so I can be stocked up for Christmas next year.
    Making them this far in advance, how often do you baste them. We use Cointreau as we aren't that wild about brandy
    just follow the instructions in the recipe. Since I also wrap in cloth it will retain some moisture. At the end of two weeks instead of eating I seal up tight and hide it so I don't 'test' it every other day or so.
    Have made this recipe for four years, and have to make more every year as now everyone asks for one. Absolutely delicious....changed people's impression of fruitcake!
    It is really good. I can't believe how easy it is to make as well. It has become a tradition in my home.
    I've made this fruitcake for years as well and agree that it is the most amazing thing ever. Just get the preconceived notion of a heavy-as-a-brick, unidentifiable "fruit" loaf out of your head and make this recipe. Think of it as a Holiday Cake Extraordinaire. I wonder if it can be frozen though? or how far in advance it can be made (even before the two weeks in the recipe)?
    I made it last year and froze mini-cakes. I ate them all year. They were fabulous!
    great! thanks! 
    I just at the one I made last year, it was in the back of the pantry for a year and it was more amazing than it was fresh.
    Absolutely Amazing - I substituted Dried Strawberries for the Currants and Macerated in Kahlua. (I didn't have the Golden Rum and wanted to get going on the recipe quickly.) I experiment with a different Fruit Cake recipe every few years. The experimentation is OVER. I have finally found a true keeper. This by far the best I have ever made.
    Wow Kahlua sounds like a great idea. I will have to try that in one recipe next year. I use Cointreau or grand mariner for basting but I also add new fruit to the mix like dried strawberries occasionally. My husband doesn't like currents so we use regular raisins instead. This recipe can't miss and I hated fruitcake with those hard little rock things in it. This is fantastic! 
    This fruit cake has become a tradition in our home during the fall and winter seasons. When I give it as a gift, recipients are ?very lucky indeed? because I shared it with them.
    I hate Fruitcake. I'll never forget my first taste, at my Aunt's house one Christmas a long time ago. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted. Not any more! I made this for the first time this Christmas, and its now a staple. I made 20 mini loaves (5 per batch to give away as gifts, and boy am I popular now! I subbed a few of the fruits that I couldn't find, but just made sure I had the full aggregate amount. Forgot to stir in the nuts in one batch and, while it wasn't fatal, it sure was better with them in there. Used AB's recipe for candied ginger, too, and saved a bunch of money. This is not inexpensive to make, but heck, its the holidays -- so go for it. As a matter of fact, this is now the end of February, and I loved it so much, I'm going to make one more batch just for me. I gave away too many. One tip: The results are WAY better if you macerate the fruit for 24 hours rather than microwaving. As AB says: Your patience will be rewarded.
    Agree on the 24 hours . . . The fruit is more likely to absorb all the booze as well.
    I also agree; macerate the fruit for a minimum of 24 hours for better flavor.
    My daughter and I have made this recipe three years in a row now and the family loves it. My mother used to make fruit cake for the holidays and we now use this fruit cake as one of the ways we honor her memory each year. Thanks for the great recipe and we think its great that you have the video with it as well.
    Just made it, my kitchen smelled heavenly while it was baking. Will have to wait a few weeks to taste it., so far I can't make a full rating, so I will add to this review later this month. I had a piece on Christmas Eve, and I couldn't believe how good it was. This is a definately a keeper, 5+ stars. Made it again in 2012, still great. Thank you Alton for a great recipe. Nancy M.
    So when asked what she wanted for Christmas, my mother-in-law says a fruitcake. I'm thinking one of those disgusting things with day-glo fruit and foodie/cook in me said "NO WAY!" That is when I started looking for recipes and found this one! It was delicious! My mother-in-law LOVED it! She was thrilled to get it! We all had some on Christmas day and it was excellent! I will definitely make this again for her next year and I made it just like AB said and it turned out perfectly! Thanks again for another winner, AB!
    After searching and reading almost every fruitcake recipe on the internet, I decided to try this one and I am so happy I did! Everyone loved it!! I had a 9 inch (not 10 loaf pan, so it made one large loaf and one mini-loaf and they are both awesome. I did use ground spices, instead of the whole because I had already had the ground, I couldn't find whole, and I had already spent enough money on all of the dried fruit. But I am glad I did the unfiltered apple juice, it produced a bit deeper taste than plain would have. This is a fantastic recipe...awesome!
    This recipe is simply the best fruitcake you will ever eat. After macerating the fruit in spiced rum, the cooking process unleashes an aroma that will absolutely knock your socks off. I'm a stickler for following Alton's recipes, and the results are ALWAYS phenomenal. Make the effort to use fresh spices. My mortar and pestle is very handy for Alton's recipes. I can a lot of jams and jellies, and I'm considering doing a run of the fruit and rum to can for next year, just to see what happens. There's enough alcohol in the mix that I'm sure if it's hot packed and water bathed for 10 minutes, it should keep just fine until time to bake another round of cakes. I doubled the recipe, and came up with enough to make 2 loaves and 12 cupcakes. I upped the quantity of nuts to 2 cups of toasted pecans, and it was the perfect amount. The toothpick came out clean on the cupcakes at 40 minutes, and the loaves in 1.5 hours. I will be making this recipe for many years to come.
    We HATE fruitcake! However, we LOVE this cake! I doubled the batch and used spiced rum both in the recipe and as a spritzer. With that minor adjustment, I followed the recipe exactly. I knew we would not be able to wait the several days suggested, so I made a pan of mini muffins. I over cooked it slightly, but the flavor is still there. I'm sending some to my father-in-law for Christmas and my hope is that by the time he eats it the flavors will be developed. I plan to continue spritzing it until my husband takes it on the plane with him. This recipe is easy and delicious. Thanks AB!
    Well! I am over the moon! I am an experienced cook, and was still afraid to attempt a fruit cake. What if it was a stinker? What if I messed it up?? Glad to say that I nailed it!! This recipe rocks! Even with me substituting some of the fruit that certain whiners in the family didn't like, such as blueberries, and me adding in dried pineapple and chopped figs it turned out fantastic. Thanks Alton for the recipe! I will NOT kill myself looking for an Ann Page fruitcake again!!
    I used a normal sized bundt cake pan and it cooked in one hour and 10 minutes. Adding more nuts, helps to absorb some of the moisture in the cake and will abate any of the problems that some people are complaining that it is gloppy in the middle, mine was not, used one cup of nuts! I left out the candied ginger, it is hard to find and doesnt impart that much flavor, I added some fresh grated ginger and an extra tsp of sugar and a little extra ground ginger. There are a lot of flavors competing here so I didnt miss the candied ginger as much as I would have had it been in another recipe that called for fewer spices. I used all dried ground spices, no whole spices here, again hard to come by. With the above changes, this cake was FABULOUS!! It leaves room for many changes in regards to spices, fruits long as the amts are close to what they should be. A must try cake, AB you did it again!!!
    The absolute best fruitcake I have ever eaten. No that's not fair because I would never eat more than a piece of fruitcake until I tried this. Thanks Alton, a real winner destined to be a holiday favorite.
    Prior posts have said it all: EXCELLENT. I love fruitcake, never thought I could make one. This makes me happy, happy, happy. I am making Holiday Baskets this year, and the fruitcake will be the star attraction. I'll be making this again and again, and not just for Christmas. Thanks, Alton. muaaaah!!!
    Unbelievable! This is the BEST fruitcake I've ever tasted, and I'm not just saying that because I made it! I used all natural intgredients and followed the recipe to a T, and I'm getting RAVE REVIEWS from my colleagues at work! I'm trying to break the "Yuck, fruitcake?!!" mold by intruducing people to quality ingredients, and the expertise given by Mr. Alton Brown! YUM! I've just discovered a new tradition for the holidays!
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