Ah, fruitcake! It’s a controversial subject but I maintain that if you don’t like it, it may be because you haven’t had a really good one yet. I’ve converted a bunch of friends with this recipe though, and I encourage you to give it a try, especially if you love marzipan.
I would never have tried it myself, but my dear friend who gave me the cookbook it’s in (the divine Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess) asked me specifically to make this cake so I swallowed my skepticism and dug in, and twenty years later I’m still making it every year. It’s boozy, fruity and marzipan-y, three things I’m very into 😂
prep the night before
You do have to plan ahead a little bit. The night before, soak the fruit in the rum (just leave it out on the counter overnight), and chop up your marzipan into cubes and stick it in the freezer. I tried not freezing the marzipan once, and I did notice a difference. Freezing it helps it stay in chunks during baking, which is part of the greatness of this baby. Another note on that, don’t just chuck the cubes in a ziplock, because they’ll stick together and they are hard to pry apart once frozen. Spread them out in a layer, and put the ziploc in the freezer that way, flat on a pizza box or something. That will make tossing them in the batter next day a snap.
These years later I can’t remember why, but the first time I made this I used white peaches rather than the pears the recipe calls for (probably because that’s what Trader Joe’s had and I didn’t feel like going to another store that day). Anyways it always worked beautifully so I never bothered seeking out dried pears, until this year when Trader’s ran out of peaches! The nerve, lol. So I tracked down some pears, and it’s much the same except the pears have a slight graininess, and I think they are a bit sweeter than the peaches. Verdict: I prefer the peaches, my other half prefers the pears.
The other thing is the cake should sit for about a week before eating. I’ll be honest though, I just ate some from one I baked three days ago and it’s delish! I’d say the only thing I notice is the rum taste is more prevalent, but everything else seems about the same.
When I’m making several of these as gifts, I’ll grab a bag of almond meal but this year I thought I’d try grinding up some almonds in the food processor and see what happened. It worked a treat! And I learned something else: 1/4 cup whole almonds makes just about 1/4 cup ground almonds. I don’t know why that surprised me; maybe it’s obvious? 🤣
prep the pan
Roll out parchment long enough to go around your 8” pan, fold it in half and cut long ways. Cut an 8” circle as well. Grease the pan, and line with the parchment.
mix the batter
The batter comes together super quickly. Just mix up the butter, sugar, flour, almond meal, eggs and lemon zest (I didn’t have a lemon one year so thought I’d go without it, but I did notice a difference!).
Take the bowl off the mixer and fold the fruit and marzipan in.
Spoon into the pan, and bake at 250 for about 2 1/2 hours.
Cool in the pan. I like to drizzle another tablespoon of rum over the top before I wrap it up in foil, and let it sit for a week before digging in. I’ve always kept it in the fridge because the recipe doesn’t have storage info, but this year I checked and her website has answered this by saying it should be kept at room temp for up to three weeks; otherwise it should be frozen. So mine has been on the counter for almost a week and is keeping beautifully.
The perfect gateway fruitcake.
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/2 cup glacé natural-colored cherries, halved (I always use the crazy red ones)
5 ounces dried pears, chopped
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white rum
9 ounces marzipan (click here for my super easy recipe)
1/4 cup ground almonds
Zest of one lemon
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon orange-flower water (I use vanilla but someday I’ll get this and try it!)
- So, the night before, mix the raisins, glacé cherries, and pears in a bowl and cover with the rum. Dice the marzipan and out in the freezer. Leave both to soak and freeze overnight.
- When you come to make the cake the next day, preheat the over to 250 degrees. Beat together the almonds, lemon zest, flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Add the drained fruit, orange-flower water, and the frozen marzipan. Put the cake mixture into the pan and bake for 2-2 1/2 hours or until a cake tester comes out clean. Don’t overcook, as it will continue to cook in its own warmth as it cools. Nor should you worry too much about it: there’s enough fruit and marzipanny squidge to make sure this golden cake doesn’t easily turn dry.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan before turning out and rewrapping in parchment and foil to store for about a week. Feed with a little more rum before you wrap for a richer taste if you want (just puncture the the cake a few times and slowly dribble a few spoons of rum over).