Nutty as a fruitcake?
gluten-free, dairy-free, fuss-free
This holiday season, I gift thee a better-for-you fruitcake. One that takes under 30 minutes to prep and gets better every day it sits on your counter.
The old-school fruitcake, a la Claxton is a big favorite in my family. Growing up in Bangalore, there would be a few bakeries that made these every year. But somehow, it seemed to go out of fashion and was pretty hard to source recently.
This fruitcake has been sitting in my head since last Christmas, and the wait is finally over! Here is version 3 of my recipe (it appears that version 1 and 2 were also prettay good, based on the empty containers at my Thanksgiving table).
I use blanched almond flour for a completely gluten-free cake that also leaves you satiated with the extra protein and fiber. You can use the fruit of your choice - I used dried wild blueberries, currants, cherries and cranberries. You can also use raisins, figs and dates. A lot of these packaged dried fruit come infused with sugar or apple juice - if you can find unsweetened versions go for them and add your own sweetener.
I don’t recommend adding any additional sweetener in this recipe because the fruit make it plenty sweet. While the traditional version would have you soak the fruit in rum for weeks, this is a quick version that simmers the fruit to make them softer and intensify their sweetness, inspired by this recipe from Kitchen Sanctuary. It also makes it alcohol-free. If you like, you can drizzle a tablespoon of rum, cherry brandy or or other liqueur over the cake once baked, as in the Kitchen Sanctuary video. It will help preserve the cake for longer and also give it that boozy flavor.
Olive oil makes this a lovely moist loaf. While this version uses eggs, I’m fairly confident that you can substitute aquafaba while increasing the amount of almond flour and baking powder (this is the same formula I use for my Zucchini Bread too and I’ve included it in the recipe). If you try the vegan version, let me know how it turns out! I haven’t gotten a chance to test it yet, I was too excited to get this recipe out to you in time for the holidays.
Almond Flour and Olive Oil Fruitcake
1 large orange (I used a navel orange)
250g chopped dried fruit - I used a mixture of wild blueberries, cherries, currants and cranberries. You can also use raisins, figs or dates.
1/2 cup/120 ml water
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional - I prefer without and recommend trying a loaf without it, the fruits are usually already sweetened)
2 large eggs (replace with 6 Tbsp aquafaba for vegan version. Aquafaba is the soaking liquid from a can of chickpeas)
1/4 cup/60ml extra virgin olive oil
2 cups/224g blanched almond flour (I recommend Anthony’s or Bob’s Red Mill)- use 250g for vegan version
1/3 heaped cup/50g coarsely chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp baking powder (1.5 Tbsp for vegan version)
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or use baking spray to coat. Preheat oven to 325F/160C.
Zest the orange, then slice in half and set aside.
Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and add all the fruit and mix. Let it come to a simmer again, then add maple syrup if using, vanilla extract, orange zest and the juice from both halves of the orange. Stir and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced slightly. Turn off the stove and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk 2 eggs lightly (or aquafaba, for the vegan version). Add the olive oil and whisk until incorporated. Add in the almond flour, baking powder, walnuts and mix. Add in the fruit (it should have cooled a little by now) and mix well, breaking up any lumps with a spoon. The batter should be the texture of wet sand, not pourable. If needed, you can add a tablespoon of water to help mix.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake at 325F/160C for 30-35 minutes, or 40-45 minutes for the vegan version. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean - it’s ok if there are a few crumbs.
Let cool 30 minutes before slicing (use a sharp knife to slice, it can be a bit crumbly). If desired, drizzle a tablespoon of orange flavored liquor over the top. I think the cake will last about a week, stored in an airtight container at room temperature, but it will likely be gone well before then :) It should freeze well, too, wrapped airtight.
Enjoy! See you next week, xoxo.
PPS: Starting now and for the rest of the holiday season, I will mail you an autographed bookplate (it’s a sticker that will make your gift a signed copy) if you would like to gift a signed copy of The Vegetarian Reset to a loved one. I am also happy to mail it internationally but please allow enough time to get it by snail mail.
🥦🥦Respond to this email to request a bookplate, along with the name of the giftee and your address! Please note, you will have to buy the book yourself - you can use one of the links in the footer of this email or stop by your favorite bookstore.