Fruitcake Fiend


I’m not exactly sure how popular Fruitcake is in the Philippines for Noche Buena (Christmas Eve Feast), or at any other time for that matter. But considering that fruitcake is mostly seen as a joke here in the states, I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that this wintertime loaf rarely appears on any Filipino tables as well.

For the most part, I can understand Fruitcake’s bottom position on the culinary totem pole. At its worst, fruitcake can be nothing more than a heavy brick studded with overly sweet, radioactive day-glo candied fruits. But at its best, fruitcake is wonderfully sweet and aromatically spicy–filled with dried fruits and toasted nuts and preserved with a hefty dose of good liquor.

So with the best fruitcake intentions in mind, I bake a couple of loaves at the end of every October every year–aging each cake for a few weeks and enjoying the first at Thanksgiving, and enjoying the second on Christmas Eve. Sure, fruitcake can be eaten straightaway right after baking, but the cakes are exponentially better after being spritzed with brandy every now and again.

My go-to fruitcake recipe is from Alton Brown’s “I’m Just Here For More Food“. The original recipe calls for golden raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried cherries, and dried apricots, but I tend to use different fruits every year depending on what I can find. For this go around, I stuck with the dried blueberries and cranberries, but I also included some tropical fruits like dried mango, dried rambutan, and dried mangosteen that I found at Trader Joe’s. Dried fruits are best for fruitcake because they won’t spoil, and they’re better for you than candied fruits.

This was the first time that I’ve ever seen dried rambutan and mangosteen before, so I was excited to open up the packs and give them a try.


At first glance, the dried mangosteen and dried rambutan look a lot like styrofoam, and sadly, they tasted a lot like styrofoam too. Luckily though, they were brought back to life after an overnight soak in rum with the rest of the dried fruits and some fresh orange and lemon zest:


Boozy Fruit

After a dip in rum, the fruit is then simmered with some hard apple cider, sugar, and butter, then folded into some flour and eggs to form a batter. After baking, I spray the fruitcake with apple brandy (100 proof!) that I’ve poured into a spray bottle. The original recipe calls for normal brandy, but I like the aroma of apple brandy too. Really, any brandy will do. Moesha!


Snazzy spritzer, eh?

At this point, you will be very tempted to cut a slice off of your fruitcake loaf because it smells amazing out of the oven! But I do encourage you to resist this temptation and wait. After the fruitcake cools and has been spritzed on all sides with brandy, I wrap it in plastic wrap, and then in foil, and then I even stick them in a giant zip-top bag on which I write the date.


2 kilos of, uh… 2 bricks of fruitcake, that is.

Every two days for the first two weeks I carefully unwrap the fruitcake and spritz every side with more brandy. After the first two weeks, I then spritz the fruitcake only once a week until I decide to eat it. Don’t overdo it with the spritzing, you don’t want to soak the cake every time. A light spritzing to wet the surface of the cake will do–it’s a sipper, not a chugger.

As long as you keep the fruitcake well-wrapped and give it an occasional brandy spritz, don’t worry about it going bad or growing mold. And remember, the dried fruits were preserved in rum to boot, so aging a fruitcake for a month or two is no big deal.



Like I said earlier, I’ll cut into my first loaf for Thanksgiving after one month of aging, and I’ll cut into my second loaf on Christmas Eve after two months of aging. But because I make this fruitcake every year, I can assure you it’s worth the wait.


Adapted from “I’m Just Here for More Food“, by Alton Brown.

Note: Alton Brown’s original recipe says it makes one 9-inch
loaf, but I always seem to get two loaves out of the same recipe.
Perhaps my loaf pans aren’t as deep as the recipe needs, so do be wary
of this if you try this recipe out. If it seems to yield more batter
that will fit in your loaf pan, have a second loaf pan ready.

Any combination of dried fruits works well in this recipe. And don’t be discouraged by the long list of ingredients–it’s still a simple and worthwhile recipe.

3/4 cup dried rambutan
3/4 cup dried mangosteen
3/4 cup dried blueberries
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup dried mangoes, chopped
1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
zest from 1 lemon
zest from 1 orange
5 whole cloves, freshly ground
3 whole allspice berries, freshly ground
1 cup dark rum
3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup hard apple cider
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Brandy for spritzing

In a large bowl, combine the dried fruits, ginger, lemon and orange zests, ground cloves, ground allspice, and rum. Cover and soak overnight.

The next day, pour all of the fruit, zests, spices, and rum into a large saucepan. Add the apple juice, hard cider, butter, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray loaf pans with nonstick spray, then line with parchment paper “sling” so that fruitcake can be easily lifted out of pans after baking.

In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and pecans. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for one hour. Check for doneness with a skewer or toothpick poked into the middle of the cake–if it comes out clean its done.

Set pans on cooling rack and spray the top with brandy. Cool completely before removing cakes from pan.


Remove cooled cakes from pans, then spritz top and sides with brandy. Remove parchment paper, then wrap cakes tightly in plastic wrap, and then in foil.

Unwrap cakes and spritz with brandy every other day for two weeks, then once a week for the next two weeks.

I like to serve the fruitcake by toasting slices under the broiler for juuuust a minute, then topping with a dollop of mascarpone cheese. Tasty!

  • Erin November 9, 2008, 5:24 pm

    I have used Alton Brown’s recipe for years, it is the best. I hate those other ones chock full of day-glo “fruit” and whole brazil nuts. Nice variation Marvin.

  • joey November 9, 2008, 6:32 pm

    There was a time, years ago, when fruitcake was really big for Christmas and everyone gave everyone fruitcake for Christmas. I never liked it because it probably was of that dried-brick with day-glo candied fruit variety you mention. Since then it’s lost it’s currency and, in my family at least, we no longer see it around. Your version though looks the fantastic! So moist and packed with deliciousness…and no candied fruits, yay! :)

  • Manggy November 9, 2008, 7:58 pm

    I must be a freak, because I love all fruitcake, even the horrible neon ones. I will probably (censored) all over this one, then. (By the way: omigosh, is this the first cake I’ve seen here?!) What’s amazing is that apart from the dried fruits, the only things I don’t have are the nutmeg, whole wheat flour and hard cider. Great recipe, Marvin, thanks!

  • _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver November 9, 2008, 11:05 pm

    OK, I don’t think we’ll be making any fruitcakes anytime soon. But, ROFL because:

  • Katrina November 9, 2008, 11:21 pm

    “I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that this wintertime loaf rarely appears on any Filipino tables as well”
    — As Joey said, there was a time when fruitcake was a ubiquitous Christmas staple, both as a gift and on the table. My family would receive far more of these unmistakable red or green-cellophane-wrapped cakes than we could consume, so my mom would try and serve it all during the big Christmas Day reunion. Otherwise, it was sometimes re-gifted, or frozen. Fruitcakes last forever! (There’s a joke that there’s only one fruitcake in existence, and it just gets passed around from one person to another.) I never liked it, so I’m so glad that in the last few years, fruitcakes are no longer as common (though they certainly haven’t disappeared). I can’t stand the glazed fruits, but I do like the cake itself and the nuts. The best “fruit cake” I ever received didn’t even have any visible fruits or nuts in it! It was an incredibly moist, dark, dense, alcoholic cake that would be baked as early as August. Reminded me of plum pudding, actually. Unfortunately, it’s made by the wife of a commercial director and they only give it to people he’s worked with in the past year. Since I’m no longer in that industry, I don’t get it anymore. :-(
    I’d never heard of dried mangosteen and rambutan, how cool that you found some! Nor have I ever seen fruitcake with tropical fruits of any kind. I think I might like your version of fruit cake, though I’d add nuts to the mix. How did the mangosteen and rambutan taste after they’d been rehydrated?
    Looks like Christmas is coming soon over there! Of course, in the Phils., we start hearing Christmas carols in September. I know several people who already have their decor up.

  • Mila November 10, 2008, 12:31 am

    I won’t repeat what’s been said before, but there are fruitcakes out there probably made in the 80’s, maybe 70’s even, stuck in the back of some old refrigerator in someone’s backyard. It lives!!! bwahahahaha
    Seriously though, I have an aunt who due to her marriage to some germanic american geezer, would inflict at least a couple of loaves of brandy-soaked cakes every year. They’d come in the xmas gift boxes (balikbayan boxes full of chocolates and gifts, at the bottom, the heft of the fruitcake), and they’d sit in the fridge till my mother would, with a sad sort of sigh at having to mess up her lovely xmas table, cut open the foil and chop the cakes into slices, and hope one of us would partake of them. We learned early on that a nibble was more than enough.
    I have had better, commercially made fruitcakes, even one used as a base for a wedding cake, but I am not a major fan of fruitcakes.
    Oh, and if you check Marketman’s archives, he has at least two recipe posts on fruitcake!

  • Julie November 10, 2008, 6:54 am

    I had AB’s book out for his pie crust yesterday!
    I tend to like my baked goods on the wagon. I wonder how this recipe would taste, sans booze. Maybe I should just stick to zucchini bread. I hope you show us how this bread looks by Thanksgiving and then by Christmas!

  • christina November 10, 2008, 7:03 am

    This past Christmas, I sitting eating breakfast with my family and they pull out a fruitcake and start eating.
    The conversation around it was hysterical because my Dad is trying to explain to my Nanay that most Americans don’t like fruitcake and it’s almost an insult to give one. My Nanay was so shocked!
    I tried some that day, to see if I was just assimilated to not like fruitcake; but I really don’t like it.

  • Mikey November 10, 2008, 2:11 pm

    I am afraid to make one and give it as a gift. I might get it back as a re-gift from someone, lol!!
    It’s hard to pinoy up the stigma of a fruitcake, hahahah

  • Jude November 10, 2008, 9:13 pm

    My mom used to make hundreds of fruitcakes during Christmas time. I’m not kidding — icounts as a mass-produced/cheap Xmas present and has the shelf life of uranium. I used to brush the damn cakes with whatever liquor they were using.

  • Jescel November 10, 2008, 9:33 pm

    fruitcake is popular in the philippines during christmas. i remember either receiving it, or giving it as a gift! my mom would always buy one for christmas, and the cake would be sitting in the fridge for quite a while.. your fruitcake is pretty interesting with the dried rambutan and mangosteen…

  • dp November 11, 2008, 10:39 pm

    I do like fruitcake, but never tried to make it. I’m always afraid it’s going to come out dry. This recipe has really piqued my interest…bake something and then spritz it with rum over the course of a month? I really do need to see if this works!

  • bernadette November 14, 2008, 3:04 am

    wow! your fruit cake, Marvin, is a work of love! very nurturing. I say this because– 1) I do not have the patience for baking, more so for sprtzing nor waiting for the dough to rise and 2) one bite of even the most delicious cake is enough for me! Maybe, I’m the least susceptible for diabetes in that way ;-). But on the other hand, my awe goes to people who bake—like you and my German hubby (who sometimes force-feeds me with his cakes (hehe). But seriously, he bakes terrific cakes!

  • greasemonkey November 14, 2008, 2:30 pm

    hehe.. i can finish a whole brick by myself! oh yeah, i like fruitcake too! 😉
    i seem to remember a show on food network that featured monks from minnesota(?) making fruitcake.. you can see how my memory’s shot from all the, er, fruitcake but, you probably get what i mean..
    maybe you can bake more next time so you don’t hafta wait so long.. then again, you sound like a pretty patient guy..

  • Julie November 14, 2008, 7:53 pm

    I had no idea that fruit cake needed so much nurturing. I love your twist with the apple brandy and the “wasted” fruit. Yum!

  • Lori Lynn @ Taste With The Eyes November 15, 2008, 6:26 am

    Hi Marvin – I was reading on The Cheeselover’s blog where she paired fruitcake with cheese and a glass of tawny port. Yours sound perfect for that to me,
    BTW – you must try the Water Grill in Downtown LA, it is one of my favorite restaurants here. I think it does not get much publicity because it is not new.

  • Burnt Lumpia November 17, 2008, 8:49 pm

    Thanks, Erin. AB’s fruit cake is the best, isn’t it?
    It’s too bad fruit cake is no longer making the rounds joey. I think it’s really underrated.
    It is the only cake, manggy, and it will probably stay that way;) And the recipe probably works using all ap flour rather than whole-wheat.
    Hello, ts! Another Moesha fan?!!
    Hey Katrina. I actually did use pecans in my recipe, so there are plenty of nuts. And the mangosteen and rambutan tasted very rummy, of course;) But I’m sure their more natural flavors become more apparent after baking as that’s what usually happens with the rest of the fruit. I’ll let you know how they taste after I cut into it.
    Mila, I’ve been tempted in the past to see for just how long I could preserve a fruitcake! But I could never hold out for longer than a couple months–I just love fruitcake!
    Hi Julie. On the wagon? What’s that?!! ;P And don’t worry, I’ll definitely let you know how the cake looks.
    Your nanay should be shocked, christina;) Fruit cake is delicious!
    Hi Mikey, I’ve yet to give one as a gift, but I’m happy keeping it all to myself!
    Hundreds jude?!! Wow, your mom is my hero!
    Thanks Jescel. I’m very excited to see how the rambutan and mangosteen taste.
    Trust me dp, it works. I’ve been making this recipe for the last few years and it’s always moist.
    Hi Bernadette. I don’t usually have the patience for baking either, but there’s something about fruitcake that I can’t resist.
    Hi greasemonkey. I think I remember that same show on the food network, alas, my memory is also shot from many fruitcakes;)
    Hi Julie! Yes, good fruitcake does require a bit of nurturing, but it’s worth it.
    Pairing fruitcake with cheese and port! That’s the awesomest idea Lori Lynn. I will definitely give that a try when I eat my cake.

  • oggi November 18, 2008, 7:13 am

    Wow, this sounds really good.
    BTW, I kept one of the fruitcakes I made last year in an airtight bag. I opened it last week and the taste is just fantastic! We all love its aged and mellowed fruit/nut/brandy flavor.

  • Maggie November 20, 2008, 9:42 am

    I love fruitcake and the AB recipe is a great one. I’m planning on trying single nut/fruit combinations (ie just pecan/cherry) this year instead of the usual jumble of multiple ingredients. If you can find it get the Trader Joe’s dried lychees. They are really good and have a lot of flavor.

  • Burnt Lumpia November 29, 2008, 3:59 pm

    Hi oggi! I’m always tempted to age my fruitcakes for longer than I usually do, but I don’t have the patience;)
    Hi maggie, thanks for the tip on the lychees. I saw them, but opted for the mangosteen and rambutan. I’ll definitely give them a try.

  • Jane November 29, 2008, 4:45 pm

    Hi! I just stumbled across your blog – love it!
    Listen, I realllly wanna make fruitcake this year, but I have an intense fear of it going bad or moldy, thus making the people who eat it getting violently ill. Please tell me that is I keep it in a cool place and make sure it gets fed lots of alcohol, it will keep. Thanks

  • Burnt Lumpia November 29, 2008, 11:07 pm

    Hi Jane. Don’t worry, just as long as you keep the fruitcake wrapped, in a cool place, and yes a spritz of alcohol every now and then, you will be fine. I just cracked open one of my fruitcakes after a month. I’ve eaten a few slices already and I’m still alive and kicking 😉

  • xtine January 30, 2009, 11:55 am

    Ah, fruitcake. I grew up in the Philippines and around October each year, my mom would make fruitcake so that it ages a bit in time for Christmas (from the time they’re baked until before Xmas, my mom would pull all of them our of the fridge, grab a bottle of Fundador and a paintbrush, and ‘varnish’ each fruitcake). She made a lot, and they are excellent. I miss them.
    So, thanks to my mom, I don’t react to the sight of fruitcake with the same level of horror as most.
    One more thing. A Filipino band called Eraserheads have a song called ‘Fruitcake’ from the 90s.

  • Tara August 2, 2009, 11:45 am

    This sounds fantastic! I have never made a fruitcake but i want to try this one!
    What other fruit combinations have you tried? I’m feeling iffy about rambutan and mangosteen.
    Also, how necessary for the flavor do you feel the nuts are? I don’t care for chunky nuts in my breads/cakes. I guess if it’s very important for flavor I could crush them up fine and add them…

  • Lisa Bauman May 24, 2011, 1:11 pm

    I have been looking for a Fruitcake recipe for a couple years…till I read the article on the L.A.Times food section. I grew up in Manila and my family always received a fruitcake for x’mas and I so look forward to making it for my families. My husband love it too!

  • Barbara November 15, 2011, 6:29 am

    This is one of the most unusual recipes I have ever made. My friend Debbie, let me try it and I had to have the recipe. I didn’t even like fruitcake, and this is the only one I will make or eat. :) :)
    Stirring Fruitcake Recipe
    1 pound of butter
    2 cups sugar
    6 eggs
    4 cups self-rising flour
    1 teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
    1 pound of candied cherries, rough chopped (red or green or some of both)
    1 pound of candied pineapple, rough chopped
    1 big box of raisins
    6 cups of chopped pecans
    5 oz. of orange marmalade ( I just use a small jar)
    Preheat oven to 350*
    In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. In another BIG bowl add the flour, spices, fruit and nuts. Stir to coat. Add this mixture to the creamed mixture, mix well. Place the batter in the biggest roasting pan you have. My pan was 13×18.5 x 2 inches. Now for the fun part, Bake for 15 minutes, take out and stir it up good. Bake for 15 minutes, take out and stir it up good. Bake for 15 minutes, take out and stir it up good. Bake for 15 minutes, stir and pack in a greased tube pan. I used my potato masher to pack the cooked cake mixture in the pan. Let it set on the counter overnight.
    *** My Kitchen Aid 4.5 Qt wouldn’t hold all the batter, I mixed what I could, then just mixed the rest of the flour, fruit, nuts and orange marmalade by hand in the roasting pan. Bake as directed. The cake weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz. Enjoy!!!


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