Gingerbread Fruitcake: A Holiday Tradition Improved

If there’s one running joke at any Christmas celebration, it’s fruitcake.

I personally happen to love fruitcake, complete with the shiny oddly colored faux-fruits. But once you know what kind of strange alterations those fruits have been through, it tends to take all the joy out of it.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes for a delicious alternative to white flour, processed sugar, and fake fruit. The spice from the gingerbread is the perfect complement to the sweet fruit pieces and crunchy nuts.

Just a note: this cake is not a sweet treat as written.  This recipe is often used for breakfast at our house, and it does not contain much sugar.  If you’d like to up the sugar, you’re welcome to do so, and I would increase it if you’re planning on giving it as gifts to others who are not used to less sugar.

Meg’s Gingerbread Fruitcake
The night before you’d like to make the cake, combine:

  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Let sit on the counter, covered tightly overnight.  The next day you’ll need:

  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Rapadura or Sucanat
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups unsulphured molasses
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 3 cups dried unsulphured fruit, finely chopped – apricots, cherries, cranberries, raisins, figs, dates, apples
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (it’s best if they have been soaked and dehydrated first) – I usually use a mix of walnuts and pecans

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2) Butter and flour 2, 10-inch cake pans (I like to use cacao powder to flour the pans – it adds a nice color and flavor when finished)
3) Mix the eggs, Rapadura, molasses, and vanilla together until creamy.
4) Gradually add the soaked flour mixture, beating until combined.
5) Add the rest of the ingredients, and stir until just blended.

If you don't have extra muscle, an electric mixer might be best for this part!

6) Gently fold in the dried fruit and nuts.
7) Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
8) Place pan on rack and let cool.
9) Transfer cake to serving plate. (The plate on top, and flip is my method of choice. :-) )
10) Top with whipped cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and serve warm or cold.  We also like to serve this plain, with warm vanilla pudding alongside. MMmm…

Enjoy!

Here are some substitutions for those who might need them:

Coconut milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice for the buttermilk; coconut oil for the butter; 1/2 c. applesauce for the eggs; spelt or your favorite gluten-free blend for the wheat flour;  1/2 cup maple syrup or honey for the Rapadura.

You can also bake these as muffins, which is one of my favorite ways to make these.  It makes for quick breakfasts, desserts, or (who are we kidding), snacks! Reduce the baking time to 15-20 minutes, and enjoy warm.  The above recipe will make enough for 24 muffins.

What are some holiday traditions that you have improved to make healthier this year?

About Meg

Meg is a wife and mother to 3 small children. She spends her days enjoying her children; cooking nourishing food, and discovering new ways to love the life God has blessed her with. You can find her at Cracking an Egg with One Hand: Living the Nourishing Life with a Baby on My Hip.

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Comments

  1. Wow- mustard? Really? I never would have thought of that. It sounds like such a yummy cake! :)

    Blessings,
    Michele

    • @Michele @ Frugal Granola, Oops! This comment is nearly a year later now! ;-) I didn’t think the mustard mattered, so I left it out… go figure, the cake was missing this distinct flavor profile! :-) I add it every time now. It gives a lovely rich spice taste that complements the sweeter spices.

  2. Oh my, that is QUITE AWESOME. I am going to have to see what I can do with this recipe. I love the smell of gingerbread just about as much as the taste.

    My gingerbread cookie recipe is on Hallee’s blog. http://www.halleethehomemaker.com/2009/09/gingerbread-cookie-dough/

    Thank you for sharing this. I can’t wait to get home and experiment next year.

    God Bless,
    Gregg

    • @Gregg, I’ve used your recipe before – and it’s delicious. :-) I’ve made gingerbread pancakes in the morning before, just to get the smell in the house… it’s one of my favorites, too.

  3. Oh how I love gingerbread. I love gingerbread a lot more than fruitcake! But your fruitcake looks like the kind to entice even me. Thank you, it looks great.

  4. That does sound yummy. I might have to try this, although fruitcake isn’t a tradition in our family.

    I had to post though, because your son’s cheeks are just so kissable! Oh my. : ) He’s a good little model.

    • @Andrea, Thanks, Andrea! It’s actually our year-old daughter helping me – the boys have a hard time keeping their fingers out of the batter! ;-)

      I use this recipe for my actual gingerbread, too… Just leave the fruit and nuts out. :-)

  5. This fruit cake really does sound good :) Thanks for providing the substitute for the buttermilk, sometimes it’s hard to find.
    At my nieces request I plan to make a couple of pumpkin pies for Christmas along with some almond shortbread.

  6. Hi. I recently found your website and LOVE it! Thank you! I would like to make this fruitcake for my son for Christmas, but the dehydrator is wrapped under the tree. How else can I properly dehydrate the nuts for optimum flavor? Thank you!

    • @Michelle, You could probably dry them in a warm oven overnight. If you turn your oven light on, it actually gets warmer in there than you would think (that’s how I make my yogurt). If they’re really well drained, and spread out so they’re not clumped together, I bet they would dry pretty well. Hope your son likes it!

  7. That cake looks very yummy! I would love to try it sometime

  8. Cheryl Sherry says:

    I see so many things that says gluten free, and unsulphured, why is it bad for you? I was just wondering. I’m glad I found your site. I have two little ones and I’m trying to do as much possible the natural way. You hear so many people having cancer now a days, it’s scary and it make you wonder. I’m looking forward to having a garden this year. I also think it’s cool that you are a christian by faith. Merry Christmas, Cheryl

    • @Cheryl Sherry, Well, gluten-free is becoming common because many people have trouble digestively with gluten (including celiac disease, but many other people simply have sensitivities to gluten). I don’t think it’s the ultimate answer, though. I think that healing our digestive system and eating properly prepared grains (and maybe less grains than we tend to eat in general) is more of the answer.

      The unsulphered is because sulphites are used as a preservative in many foods like dried fruit, lemon or lime juice and molasses. They help to retain color in a product. They have been linked to breathing problems (esp. asthma), digestive troubles, and nerve problems. Many people have allergic reactions to them as well. As with many food preservatives, there may be greater long term damage than we know, so the less food additives we have in our diet, the better.

      Thanks for the question, Cheryl! Merry Christmas!

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