This is my favourite dense and rich traditional fruit cake with a crunchy topping of nuts and cherries. This cake is perfect to enjoy after Christmas dinner or to slice up and serve for morning tea.
I know it’s not really the millennial thing to say, but I really love fruit cake. It’s traditional and old fashioned and always reminds me of Christmas. The humble fruit cake has fallen out of fashion over the years but Christmas is always a time for tradition so here we are, bringing it back.
I’ve made this particular fruit cake pretty much every December since I moved out of home despite the fact that my husband is not a fan of fruit cake. But I make it every year and I slice it up and serve it when my mum comes to visit for morning tea, or I take a plate to work, or a friends party and one way or another it always gets eaten.
I’m not 100% sure of the origins of this recipe. It’s not a family one but rather something I saw on TV and wrote down. It’s travelled with me through various moves, laptops and printed recipe books so I thought it was finally time it found a permanent spot in the archives of this site.
This fruit cake recipe isn’t the same as a classic boiled Christmas pudding but it’s a great option if you want that sort of taste without the work. While this cake still takes a couple of days to make, most of that time is just waiting and the actual hands on time is pretty straight forward.
I love that this cake also has that little extra of the crunchy nut topping which gives a great contrast in texture to the dense, fruity cake.
How to make this upside down fruit cake
This cake comes down to three main steps;
- Soaking the fruit
- Making and baking
The first step of soaking the fruit will need to be done overnight. To ensure this cake lasts as it should as well as has the strong classic flavour of a traditional fruit cake you are going to need to raid your liquor cabinet.
My favourite is Grand Mariner which is a orange-flavoured cognac liqueur but more traditionally you could use brandy instead. I’ve also used Chivas Regal (scotch whisky) and Kraken spiced dark rum with great results. The 40% alcohol percentage will ensure that the cake preserves meaning it can last up to 12 months if properly stored.
The next day when you’re ready to bake, start by preparing your baking pan with a few layers of baking paper. I like to use a square baking pan for this cake because it’s much easier to slice up a square cake, but a round pan will work just fine.
Make the cake batter by beating the dairy-free butter with the dark brown sugar and orange zest. Add in the eggs one at a time followed by the orange marmalade. Add this batter to the soaked fruit and mix to combine with a rubber spatula.
Sift in the spice and flour and mix to form a thick batter. Pour this into the prepared cake pan and then bake in a low preheated oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours until cooked through.
The final next step is to turn the cake upside down and wrap in a tea towel and again, let the cake sit overnight. This step allows the cake to cool down slowly which will help ensure the cake remains moist for longer and doesn’t dry out.
How to store fruit cake
To store this cake to ensure the longest life, make sure to wrap the cooled cake in 1-2 layers of plastic wrap, followed by wrapping it in aluminium foil. Place the wrapped cake in an airtight container and store in the fridge.
Provided you use a strong alcohol the cake will be preserved so it will last forever in the fridge, and even longer in the freezer so you can make this cake well in advance.
This cake is perfect served on it’s own in slices for morning tea as it’s got so much flavour from the soaked fruit. But this cake really shines when served with custard, ice cream or my personal favourite, brandy sauce, for a decadent Christmas dessert.
If you’re looking for something to have on hand ready to go for any unexpected holiday scenario then this cake is perfect. Keep it in the fridge and serve it out as you need it.
More traditional Christmas recipes:
Rum Balls (Dairy-Free)
Vegan Gingerbread Loaf with Orange Glaze
Vegan Gingerbread Men
Upside Down Christmas Fruit Cake
- 1 kg mixed dried fruit
- ½ cup grand marnier or brandy
- 250 grams dairy-free butter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
For the topping
- 1 cup brazil nuts
- ¾ cup whole pecans
- 100 grams glace cherries
- Combine the mixed dried fruit and the grand marnier or brandy in a large mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C and line the base and sides of a 22-25 cm square or round deep cake pan with three layers of baking paper. Into the base of the pan, scatter the topping ingredients evenly.
- Using either a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat together the dairy-free butter, brown sugar and orange zest until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time beating between each addition. Finally mix through the orange marmalade. Add this mixture to the bowl with the dried fruit and use a spatula to mix through.
- Finally sift the flour and spice over the top and mix through. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan over the topping and smooth out the top with a spatula.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 2 ½ – 3 hours or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. If the cake is starting to get too brown, loosely cover with aluminum foil half way through.
- Once cooked, place a piece of foil down on a wire rack and turn the cake pan upside down and wrap it in a tea towel and let sit like this overnight. This will ensure the cake cools slowly and therefore will stay moist for longer. To serve, remove the cake from the pan and cut into slices.
Nutritional information is provided as a guide only and is calculated using automated online tools, therefore we cannot guarantee the accuracy. We encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe.
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