My Easy Fruit Cake is soft, moist and full of flavour. It’s really simple to make and comes together from start to finish in hours (not days). You don’t need an electric mixer and there’s no alcohol so it’s kid-friendly and perfect for Christmas celebrations.
Meet my favourite Christmas Fruit Cake ❤️ She’s golden, soft, moist and packed with fruit and festive spices. Better yet, my Fruit Cake takes only hours to make from start to finish (not days) and you don’t even need an electric mixer.
This Christmas Cake stays buttery and moist for days, and it’s alcohol-free so even the kids will love it! It’s a staple at my house during the holiday season.
Why you will love this recipe
- Soft and moist: My rich Fruit Cake is soft, moist and full of flavour.
- No alcohol: You don’t need any alcohol so it’s kid-friendly.
- Quick to make: You can make this Fruit Cake from start to finish in 3 hours.
- No mixer: You don’t need an electric mixer to make it.
- Stays fresh: It keeps well for days, perfect for make-ahead entertaining.
I’ve had this recipe on my to-make list forever. I absolutely love a piece of Fruit Cake at Christmas – or any time really.
But while some are happy to slave away making a traditional Fruit Cake months in advance, I wanted an Easy Fruit Cake recipe – one that takes mere hours to make, not days. And I didn’t want one that required a mountain of fruit or an elaborate list of ingredients.
After testing this recipe five times, I finally found the perfect ratio of cake to fruit. Not too much, not too little. I also practised with baking temperatures and cooking times.
It can be tricky to ensure that Fruit Cakes are cooked all the way through since there is so much moisture from the fruit. So I’ve compiled my tips on that issue below as well.
If you’re on the hunt for a soft, moist and flavour-packed Fruit Cake that smells and tastes like Christmas, this is the recipe for you.
And it’s the perfect easy recipe for those who have never made a Fruit Cake from scratch before.
What you will need
I wanted to create a recipe that didn’t need too many ingredients (some Fruit Cakes seem to have an ingredient list that’s a mile long). You’ll love how simple this traditional holiday cake is.
You can also customisable this cake by using whatever dried fruit you prefer. And without any booze, it’s an easy cake to throw together for any occasion.
Here’s a snapshot of the key ingredients you will need, including any substitutions you can make:
- Dried fruit: I used a mix of raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries and glaced cherries. I’ve detailed the exact proportions in the recipe notes below. But as long you use the total weight of fruit, you can choose whatever mix of dried fruit you like. Even golden raisins or maraschino cherries would be lovely. I just recommend having all the fruit roughly the same size. If there are pieces that are too big, it will make the cake harder to cut later.
- Orange zest: Or orange peel. You could also use lemon zest if you prefer.
- Apple juice: I tested this recipe using 100% apple juice which works wonderfully well. Orange juice will also work if you want more of a zesty kick. You could also swap the juice for your favourite alcohol but as I mentioned, I haven’t tested an alcoholic version.
- Plain flour: Or all purpose flour.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar not only adds sweetness and moisture, but it’s caramel notes blend perfectly with the warm spices. I recommend using light brown sugar (which is just regular brown sugar here in Australia).
- Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger: These ground spices add oodles of flavour to this Fruit Cake – don’t skimp!
- Baking powder: Baking powder will help the cake to rise. Double check your baking powder is fresh – it tends to need replacing every 3 months. If it’s been sitting in the back of your pantry, maybe buy a new tub before baking this beautiful Fruit Cake.
- Butter: While oil typically makes cakes more moist, the fruits take care of that for us in this cake. That means we can use butter for maximum flavour. I recommend using unsalted butter, but if you do use salted butter, just omit the salt listed in the ingredients.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
How to make Easy Fruit Cake
This Fruit Cake is surprisingly easy to make. You don’t need an electric mixer, nor do you need to soak your fruit days in advance. Here’s a simple breakdown of how to make it. Detailed recipe instructions are included in the recipe card below.
Preparing the dried fruit
You’ll need to start by soaking and heating your dried fruit. This will take one hour in total, so it’s good to start this recipe in advance.
While the fruit is doing its thing, you can measure out the remaining ingredients and line your cake pan so everything is ready to go at the one-hour mark.
- In a large mixing bowl, add dried fruit, orange zest and apple juice.
- Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and then stir.
- Heat again for another 1 minute and then stir.
- Place a large plate on top of the bowl so the fruit is covered. Let it sit for 1 hour.
- As the fruit cools, it will soak up the juice and become plump and juicy.
Making the cake batter
When your fruit is ready, it takes only minutes to make the actual cake batter itself. You don’t need an electric mixer, just a bowl and spoon. Here’s how to make the Fruit Cake batter in a few simple steps.
- In a large bowl, add dry ingredients. Give it a little stir.
- Add melted butter, vanilla and eggs and stir.
- Finally, add fruit mixture including any remaining juice, and stir.
- Cake batter should be thick and creamy with no flour pockets left.
How do you know when Fruit Cake is cooked?
It can be a little tricky to know when Fruit Cake is fully cooked since there is so much fruit and moisture in the cake. Also, because the cake has a long bake, it will turn brown before it is fully cooked through. Here are a few ways that I try to double-check my Fruit Cake is fully cooked before removing it from the oven.
- Look for colour: Your cake should be evenly brown all over and even a tad darker around the edges.
- Look at the shape: This cake won’t rise much but it should have a slightly domed top. If it’s sunken at all towards the middle, it’s not cooked.
- Touch the top of the cake: The cake should be firm to the touch, not gooey or wet in any places.
- Test with a skewer multiple times: The skewer test isn’t super reliable with fruit cakes as you can get a clean skewer without the middle being fully cooked – but it still does help. Test the cake multiple times with a skewer, especially at the very centre of the cake as this will be the last place to cook. There shouldn’t be any crumbs or moisture on your skewer.
- Let it cool completely: Fruit Cakes continue to cook as they cool and ‘set.’ If you try to cut a Fruit Cake while it is still warm, it is likely to crumble and you won’t get a clean cut slice. Let it cool completely before slicing inside. I recommend making your Fruit Cake the day before you are going to serve it, and slicing it the following day.
Baking time: Please note that every oven is different and baking times are only ever a guide. I have tested this cake multiple times in my electric oven on the fan-forced setting. Your cake may take longer to cook. This is where you need to use your baker’s intuition, along with the tips above, to determine when your cake is cooked.
Frequently asked questions
I haven’t tested this recipe with alcohol so I can’t guarantee the results. But you could try swapping the apple juice for alcohol like rum or brandy if you like. Let me know how it goes.
This cake keeps soft and moist for days and will keep well for up to one week. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature. Alternatively, you can freeze this cake and simply thaw before serving.
This Easy Fruit Cake is lovely served warm or cold. You can serve it on its own for morning or afternoon tea, or warm with custard for dessert. Dust with icing sugar or brush with a spoonful of jam (such as apricot) for a beautiful glazed look.
Yes, if you prefer you could use this recipe to make two loaf cakes using two 8 by 5 inch loaf pans. You will need to adjust the cook time.
A deliciously Easy Fruit Cake made from scratch. No alcohol or booze required.
- 600 grams (approximately 3 and 1/3 cups) dried fruit (see notes)
- Zest of 1 large orange, finely grated
- 160 ml (2/3 cup) apple juice, (see notes)
- 210 grams (1 and 1/2 cups) plain flour or all purpose flour
- 190 grams (1 cup) brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 230 grams (1 cup or 2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- In a large mixing bowl, add dried fruit, orange zest, apple juice and stir. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and then stir. Heat again for 1 minute and stir. Fruit should be hot to the touch.
- Cover the bowl of fruit with a large plate and let it sit for 1 hour. Fruit will cool, soak up the juice and become plump and juicy.
- Preheat oven to 170 C (340 F) standard / 150 C (300 F) fan-forced. Lightly grease a high-sided (3 inches deep) 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom and sides with baking paper or parchment paper.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder and salt. Stir or whisk briefly to mix.
- Heat butter in the microwave until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds. Butter should be melted but not hot. If it’s hot to the touch, let it cool slightly before continuing.
- Add butter, vanilla and eggs to flour mix and gently stir. Add dried fruit, including any juice left in the bowl, and stir until fruit is completely coated and there are no pockets of flour.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Place cake in the oven on the middle rack and bake 1 hour. Then cover cake loosely with aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 30 minutes.
- Double check if your cake is fully cooked in the middle by inserting a skewer in multiple places to see if it comes out completely clean. If not, bake your cake for another 10 minutes and then try again.
- Leave your cake to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Cake must be completely cool before slicing otherwise it will crumble.
Dried fruit: I used a mix of raisins, sultanas and mixed peel (500 grams), dried cranberries (50 grams) and glaced cherries (50 grams). But as long you add the total weight of fruit (600 grams), you can mix up the fruit you choose to add. I just recommend having all the fruit roughly the same size. If any pieces are bigger than a sultana or dried cranberry, roughly chop them first. I chop the glaced cherries into quarters. If there are pieces of fruit that are too big, it will make the cake harder to slice later.
Apple juice: I test this recipe using 100% apple juice which works really well. Orange juice will work too, but will give the cake a stronger citrus flavour.
Baking times: Please note that every oven is different and baking times are only ever a guide. I have tested this cake multiple times in my electric oven on the fan-forced setting. Your cake may take longer to cook. This is where you need to use your baker’s intuition, along with the tips in the post above, to determine when your cake is cooked.
Storage: Keep this cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a 1 week. Alternatively, you can freeze this cake and simply thaw when serving.
Serving suggestion: You can serve this cake warm or cold. It is lovely served on it’s own for morning or afternoon tea, or warm with custard for dessert. Dust with icing sugar or brush with warm apricot jam with a beautiful glazed look.