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Spiced Fruit and Nut Cake – A Wholesome Honey-Sweetened Winter Holiday Tradition

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To fruit cake or not to fruit cake? That is the question!

When you taste this spicy cake you will instantly realize why people have been making fruit cakes for centuries.

Naturally sweetened and packed with the healthy nuts and fruits of the season, this spiced fruit and nut cake seems more like a full meal than a cake. A piece for breakfast is certainly not out of the question.

A collage of spiced fruit and nut cakes with text overlay.

Most people squirm at the idea of fruit cake. Often they are thinking of the cheap sugary cakes that are full of preserved fruit in sickening colors. That makes me squirm too. I was on a mission this year to write a recipe that would make my ancestors proud. I used organic fresh and dried fruits and freshly toasted nuts along with a bunch of warm winter spices.

This cake is dense, moist, sweet, and chewy with a crunchy nutty toasted exterior. I’m really happy with the result and I hope you get a chance to make it this year. Let’s start a healthy, wholesome seasonal tradition together.

A beautiful big fruit cake studded with pecans.

Preparing Your Spiced Fruit and Nut Cake

This recipe yields 1 large 9-inch cake or 12 individual cakes. Serves 12 or more.

Spread the pecans and walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 10 minutes. Set the nuts aside to cool. Grease your cake pan or prepare your baking cups and set them aside as well.

Turn the oven down to 325°F.

In your food processor combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, and 2 cups of the dates. Process these ingredients until the dates become sandy and there are no noticeable pieces.

Dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Next prepare the dried and fresh fruit and the nuts. Peel and dice the apples, dice the plums and the remaining 1/2 cup of dates, and zest the orange. Add the cranberries and set the prepared fruit aside. Carefully select 36 nice-looking pecans and set them aside for the top of the cake. Break up the rest of the nuts with your fingers. Set the nuts aside.

Diced fruit.

In your stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl combine the butter and honey and cream it until it’s smooth. Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time while beating each one in and scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Add the flour mixture and stir gently to combine. Be careful to not over-mix at this step. When the flour is incorporated add the prepared fruit, orange zest, and the broken nuts. Stir gently to fully combine. Evenly spread the cake batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Gently decorate the top of the cake with the reserved pecans.

An unbaked fruit and nut cake with pecans arranged on top.

Bake your beautiful cake for 55 to 60 minutes at 325°F or until a toothpick inserted into the center pulls away clean.

A baked fruit and nut cake with Christmas decor.

Alternatively, bake the smaller individual cakes for 30 to 45 minutes depending on size. I like to use the big parchment paper cups, which make the cakes look elegant and festive when given away as seasonal gifts.

Four little fruit and nut cakes on a plate.

Looking for more traditional holiday baked treats? Try these incredible recipes from some of my blogging colleagues!

Christmas Figgy Pudding – Nitty Gritty Life

Real Food Fruitcake – Learning And Yearning

A beautiful big fruit cake studded with nuts and served o Christmas Day.

Spiced Fruit and Nut Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This cake is dense, moist, sweet, and chewy with a crunchy, nutty, toasted exterior. I'm really happy with the result and I hope you get a chance to make it this year. Let's start a healthy, wholesome seasonal tradition together.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spread the pecans and walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 10 minutes. Set the nuts aside to cool. Grease your cake pan or prepare your baking cups.
  2. Turn the oven down to 325°F.
  3. In your food processor combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, and 2 cups of the dates. Process these ingredients until the dates become sandy and there are no noticeable pieces.
  4. Next, prepare the dried and fresh fruit and the nuts. Peel and dice the apples, dice the plums and the reserved 1/2 cup of dates, and zest the orange. Add the cranberries and set the prepared fruit aside. Carefully select 36 nice-looking pecans and set them aside for the top of the cake. Break up the rest of the nuts with your fingers.
  5. In your stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl, combine the butter and honey and cream them until smooth. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time while beating each one in and scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Add the flour mixture and stir gently to combine. Be careful to not over-mix at this step. When the flour is incorporated add the prepared fruit, orange zest, and broken nuts. Stir gently to fully combine. Evenly spread the cake batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Gently decorate the top of the cake with the reserved pecans.
  6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes at 325°F or until a toothpick inserted into the center pulls away clean.
  7. Alternatively, bake the smaller individual cakes for 30 to 45 minutes depending on size. I like to use big parchment paper cups, which make the cakes look elegant and festive when given away as seasonal gifts.
A collage of spiced fruit and nut cakes with text overlay.

linda wayne

Thursday 8th of December 2016

This is a grand change from anything store bought and just the treat to bake on a rainy weekend day. Mmmmmm. Love the way that you present your ideas and recipes. Looking for more. Thanks so much.

Butter For All

Friday 9th of December 2016

Thank you, Linda! It is such a fun time of year to bake (and eat!). Your house will smell heavenly! Enjoy!

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