Couple months back I had fruitcake cravings, coming from someone that never liked anything that was cooked with fruits. Anyone from my family knows that sweet rice (typical Indian dessert dish commonly used in all rituals, prayers, and functions) with raisins or soji with raisins just does not sit well with me. Anyway I am also someone that listens to my body and this vehicle of mine wanted fruit cake so I was not going to deny it from fruitcake, so I took the lazy way out and ordered for a vegan fruit. Here I was thinking well, mmmm, fruit cake, something that was not my favorite thing, I will order it, cut it up into small servings and freeze it for whenever the craving returned. I DID cut it up and freeze but it was my biggest mistake…….it never lasted so long in the freezer, by the end of the week between my life partner, kids and I, it was eaten and a broken promise to my mother as I was supposed to keep a piece for her.
I still wanted fruitcake, so the creative side kicked in and did what I do best. Research a whole lot of recipes and re-invent the wheel. It really was co-incidental that all this happened during the festive season but I did manage to kill 2 birds with one stone as now I have a cake to bring to the table for Xmas lunch being hosted by my sister at my place. Serve this cake with vanilla vegan custard and you have a winner!
This is my version of the fruitcake and it did have a little more flour than a normal fruit cake. It is also alcohol-free (I used non-alcoholic rum essence), vegan-friendly, and sugar-free (because of all the fruits and using dates as a substitute for sugar). It was made with stone ground flour and the flour can be easily substituted for gluten-free flour. I think this is a very forgiving cake to be converted to gluten-free because the density of the cake is expected. I made a bulk lot of the cake but have scaled down the recipe for you. This fits into a 20cm square baking tin and serves 12-15.
Just note that this is a non-alcoholic cake so you do not require basting/feeding the cake like you would do if alcohol was used to preserve it. This cake will keep for 2-3 days out of the fridge, thereafter it will keep for 10 days in the fridge and then you are required to freeze it if it does not get finished within those days, because there is no alcohol it will start molding if you do not follow these steps. But trust me I do not think it would get to the freezer stage, unless you are like me and bake in bulk.
3 cups dried fruit mix
I used Sultanas, raisins, black currants, goji berries, apples, apricot, cranberries, blueberries, and prunes. I chopped up the bigger dried fruits to raisin size pieces. My recipe did have more of the Sultanas, black currants and raisins like most of the other recipes.
1 cup citrus peels
I finely diced orange and lemon rind that were the similar size of the black currants. The rind is the outermost part of the skin, not the white but the yellow or orange parts of the skin.
1 ½ cup masala (chai) tea
I used two teabags brewed in 1 cup water for soaking the fruits. The other half cup is made with one tea bag in half cup water to baste the cake with once. You can be adventurous and make your own masala tea, but make sure it is strong.
2 tbls rum essence (non-alcoholic) split in half.
1 tbls to be used at the soaking stage and the other tbls to be used in the cake batter when baking.
½ cup coconut Oil
You can use any oil or vegan margarine
1 cup apple juice
You can use orange juice or grape juice if you like.
4 Clove buds (ground)
1 teaspoon Allspice powder
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated fresh Ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Caraway seeds (ground)
I lightly toasted the clove buds and caraway seeds to release some of their oils before grinding them.
1 cup dates
Chopped and soaked overnight (the day before you bake the cake) with just enough water to cover the dates in the bowl. This will be liquidized to be added to the recipe.
1 – 2 cup nuts plus extra half pecans for decorating
You can use walnuts, almonds or pecan, any nuts really roughly chopped up. I skimped on the nuts and used sprinkle peanuts. The other ingredients already cost so much and I went over budget, besides I wanted the pecans to decorate the cake.
1 ¾ cups cake flour
1 tbls ground flaxseed
This is to bind the mixture and used in place of eggs.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Decide when you actually want to bake the cake, and then soak the dried fruits, together with the citrus peels and 1 tablespoon rum essence in 1 cup of masala tea up to 7 days keeping the soaked fruits in the fridge.
Soak dates night before baking or if you baking in the evening then you can soak it in the morning. Liquidize dates.
Take the soaked fruits and liquidized dates and put it in a stainless steel pot together with the juice, spices and coconut oil and bring it to boil and simmer for 5-7 mins.
This mixture needs to cool down to room temperature before using. If not using the same day you can refrigerate but make sure you take it out from the fridge a few hours before to bring the mixture back to room temperature before making the cake batter. All this affects the cooking time and process during baking, so always make sure your ingredients are at room temperature.
Liquidized Soaked Dates
Now you ready to make the batter. Preheat oven to 175 Degrees Celcius
Add the remaining dry ingredients, ground flaxseed, salt, baking powder, baking soda and nuts to the sifted flour.
Add the remaining wet ingredients, rum, vanilla extract and lemon zest to the fruit mixture. Mix well. If you anything like me, get the hubby involved in using muscle power to mix well.
Now combine both the wet and dry ingredients and mix well. Put in the well-greased baking tray, tap the baking dish on the counter to settle the batter evenly or use a greased plastic plate like what hubby did to press down the batter to remove air bubbles and bake for 45-60 min. Poke a skewer and if it comes out clean then it is cooked.
Let the cake cool in the tray. Poke holes with a skewer and spoon the half cup of tea onto the cake till the cake soaks up the tea.
Now you can either decorate the cake with nuts and cherries if you like. Sift some icing over it and then cling wrap and let it mature for 2 days then put it in the fridge. You can also decorate the cake when you are ready to serve it.
The cake I baked did get slightly burnt underneath but that is because of my oven. I do not have one of the best ovens to bake in.
Try it out and leave comments below to let me know how you did.