Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake With A Twist

By: Flora

Last Updated: March 19, 2024

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4.91 from 10 votes
This Christmas fruit cake is made from candied tropical fruit and soaked in rum which gives it a moist texture and delicious flavor. A staple of our family's holiday traditions.
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This traditional Christmas fruit cake recipe is a staple of the holidays around our house. Made with dried fruit and a splash of rum, it’s a moist and delicious treat the whole family loves.

Traditional Christmas fruit cake

This traditional Christmas Fruit Cake recipe was adapted from a recipe I found on and has become a family favorite.

The “twist” is that it uses tropical dried fruits instead of the usual citrus peels which makes the cake colorful and delicious!

The preparation is a little lengthy but do not be put off…there is a lot of lapsed time between the prep stages.

If you can make a cake mix, you can easily make this, once you have the fruit ready.

This cake tastes best if made a few weeks (or even months) ahead of Christmas and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or fruit cellar to let the flavors mellow.


Christmas fruit cake ingredients

This recipe makes 2 4″ x 8″ loaves for Christmas fruit cake.

Here’s your shopping list:

  • Dried fruit: 2 cups shredded coconut, 1½ cups dried mangoes, 1½ cups candied pineapple, 1½ cups dried papaya, 1 cup golden raisins, 1 cup red candied cherries – I buy my fruit at the bulk foods store and take a measuring cup with me so that I only purchase the amounts I need.
  • Nuts: 2 cups blanched almonds
  • Baking supplies: 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup sugar
  • Seasoning: 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dairy: 1/2 cup butter
  • Eggs: 3 large eggs
  • Alcohol: 1 cup rum


  • If you don’t want to use the rum, you can use artificial rum extract instead.

How To Make Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake

Slices of traditional Christmas fruit cake

Prepare the fruit

The first (and probably the most time consuming) step of making the fruit cake is to chop all of the fruit.

Then combine them all with half a cup of the rum in a large bowl.

Cover it with foil or saran wrap and let it stand for a day, stirring occasionally.

Prepare the oven

A shallow pan filled with water in an oven

Pour some water into a shallow baking pan and put it on the bottom rack in the oven.

Then turn the oven to 250℉.

The water helps to keep the cake moist while it is baking. And the low temperature makes sure that it doesn’t burn.

Cut the parchment paper to fit the pans

Now we need to cut the parchment paper to fit the loaf pans properly.

To do this, start by cutting 4 pieces of parchment paper that are big enough to fold to the top of all sides of the loaf pan.

Draw the bottom of the pan onto the parchment paper

The following steps need to be done to all of the pieces of parchment paper. You can either stack them all together and do them at one time. Or do each one individually.

  1. Center the loaf pan in the middle of the piece you cut.
  2. Draw the bottom of the pan onto the parchment paper.
Fold the parchment paper to the size of the pan
  1. Fold the parchment paper along the lines you drew.
Cut the parchment paper
  1. Make one cut on each side of the parchment paper along the folded lines. Cut almost to the first fold line.
Fit the parchment paper into the pans

Use the parchment paper to double-line the inside of the loaf pans (ie. use two pieces of parchment paper for each pan).

Make the batter

Next we’re ready to make the fruit cake batter.

Manually stir ½ cup of the flour and the almonds into the fruit mixture. Set aside

Sift together the rest of the flour, baking powder and the salt. Set aside.

Beat the butter with the electric mixer on high speed until it is well mixed. Using butter that has been warmed to room temperature will make this much easier.

Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the butter mixture is light and fluffy.

Christmas fruit cake batter in the mixing bowl

Add the eggs one at a time and beat well in between each addition.

Manually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture with a mixing spoon. Don’t stir too much or the cake will get tough.

Mix the batter into the fruit

Then stir the cake batter into the fruit mixture with a wooden spoon. It will be very stiff! (I usually end up transferring everything to a larger bowl to make it easier to mix).

Christmas fruit cake batter

Again, stir just until combined.

Too much mixing will make the cake tough and heavy.


Baking pans filled with Christmas fruit cake batter

Pack the mixture into the 2 loaf pans, smoothing the tops with the back of the spoon.

Bake in the center of the oven for 1¼ to 1½ hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

If the top begins to crack before it is cooked, cover it with a piece of foil.

Christmas fruit cake in baking pans

The cakes should be evenly browned but not too dark.

Once the cakes are cooked, remove them from the oven and let them cool completely on the wire racks.


The last step is to marinate the fruit cake in the rum.

This step is what will make sure the cakes are not too dry.

Christmas fruit cake with cheesecloth

Remove them from the pans and peel off the parchment.

Soak the cheesecloth squares in the remaining rum.

Poke a few holes in the top of the cakes with a skewer or fork.

This will let the rum soak further into the cake.

Christmas fruit cake wrapped in rum-soaked cheesecloth

Wrap the cakes in the rum-soaked cheesecloth, using 2 pieces of cheesecloth per cake.

Christmas fruit cake wrapped with foil

Then wrap them with a layer of saran wrap, and a layer of foil.

Refrigerate for at least 1 month or up to 3 months.

Christmas fruit cake on a plate

Then be prepared for it to disappear quickly!

Even my friends who don’t usually like fruit cake gobble this one up.

Serving suggestions

This Christmas fruitcake recipe can be served with coffee or tea, as part of a holiday brunch menu or any time you want a sweet bread.

I also like to cut the slices in half and use it on a Christmas cookie tray.

Two slices of Christmas fruit cake on a plate

Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake With a Twist

4.91 from 10 votes
Servings: 2 loaves
Prep 1 hour
Cook 2 hours
Resting time 31 days
Total 3 hours


  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • cups dried papayas chopped
  • cups dried mangoes chopped
  • cups candied pineapple chopped
  • 1 cup golden raisins carefully checked to remove any little stems
  • 1 cup red glace cherries halved
  • 1 cup rum
  • 2 cups blanched almonds slivered
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs


  • knife
  • measuring cups & spoons
  • large bowl
  • 2 4" x 8" loaf pans
  • parchment paper
  • pencil
  • shallow baking pan
  • sifter
  • Electric mixer and bowl
  • wooden mixing spoon
  • wire cooling racks
  • 4 16-inch square pieces of cheesecloth
  • saran wrap
  • foil


  • Chop the fruit.
  • In a large bowl, combine coconut, papayas, mangoes, pineapple, raisins, cherries, and ½ cup of the rum.
  • Cover and let stand for 1 day, stirring occasionally.
  • Set a shallow pan on the bottom rack of the oven and pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides.
  • Preheat oven to 250℉.
  • Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper that are large enough to wrap up the sides of the loaf pans. Fold them so they will fit inside the loaf pans. Cutting slits where the corners are will help them to lie neatly.
  • Line each loaf pan with two sheets of the parchment paper .
  • Gently stir ½ cup flour into the fruit.
  • Add the almonds to the fruit mixture. Set aside.
  • Sift together 1½ cups flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • With electric mixer on high, cream the butter.
  • Add the sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.
  • Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Now stir the cake batter into the fruit/almond mixture with a wooden spoon. It will be very stiff.
  • Pack the cake batter into the prepared loaf pans, smoothing the tops with the back of the spoon.
  • Bake in the center of the oven for 1¼ to 1½ hrs., until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If the top begins to crack, shield it with foil.
  • Let cool in pans on wire rack.
  • Remove cakes from pans and peel off the parchment.
  • Soak 2 double thicknesses of 16-inch square cheesecloth in the remaining rum.
  • Poke a few holes in the cakes with a skewer (which will let the rum run into them).
  • Wrap cakes in the cheesecloth. Then in a layer of saran wrap and a layer of foil.
  • For the best flavor, refrigerate for at least 1 month, or up to 3 months


  • To avoid having a lot of left-over ingredients, buy the candied fruit at the bulk food store and take a measuring cup with you. That way you can purchase the exact amounts that you need.
  • Mix the batter only as much as you need to combine the ingredients. Over mixing will result in a tough cake.
  • If you prefer not to use alcohol to soak the fruit cake, substitute artificial rum extract
Nutrition Facts
Traditional Christmas Fruit Cake With a Twist
Serving Size
1 loaf
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

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This post was originally published on November 23, 2016 but was updated with new content on March 19, 2024.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Could I make the cake without rum so children can share the cake.?

    Could I use a traditional round or square tin instead?

    What do you mean by all purpose flour? Self raising or plain?

    1. Hello Chris. Thank you for your interest in making our Christmas cake. The alcohol in the rum will evaporate during baking, leaving only the rum flavor. If you prefer to use a teaspoon of artificial rum flavoring I think that would work. However, I have not tried this, so do not know for sure. If you leave off the rum soak at the end, the cake will be less moist but still very good — especially if you bake it now and wrap it well to age in the refrigerator until Christmas.

      You could use one round or square cake pan instead of two loaf pans. You may need to bake the cake a little longer. Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer.

      I use regular or plain unleavoned flour.

  2. Shuhana Allen says:

    I made this wonderful cake over the holidays for a friend’s birthday. It was so moist and flavorful and so delicious!! Several people factually said it was the best cake they’d ever had! So now I’m just dying to find one more excuse to make it again!!!

    Shuhana Allen

  3. Larry Sclafani says:

    Wow, looks very delicious and tempting recipe. I always love to make cakes and liquor free for Christmas. And this recipe is a perfect delight. Thanks for sharing these lovely Christmas cake recipes. Keep it up.

    Larry Sclafani

  4. Betty Funk says:

    This has been my favorite recipe for 5 years now. I agree , people that don’t like fruit cake love this one! Best recipe!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks, Betty! We’re making it again this year, too 🙂

  5. Betty Funk says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe! I switched it up I little, I use dried cranberries instead of raisins, or Turkish apricots if I don’t have papaya.

  6. I noticed in the original tropical white Christmas cake from Canadian Living, they call for one cup of COCONUT flavoured rum and one cup of rum. = 2 cups of rum?? Is the extra rum used for the soaking of the cheesecloth that the cakes are wrapped in?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Claire…yes, they use the extra rum for soaking the cheesecloth. I have found that you don’t need that much for soaking. And I don’t want to buy 2 different bottles of rum, so I just use one type.

    1. I agree, Richard, that there is a lot of time spent in prep to make this cake. That is one reason I cannot prepare any extra cakes for sale or shipping. Sorry.

  7. 5 stars
    Great recipe! This is only my 2nd time making fruitcake and it seems to be a hit! I did tweak the fruit mixture and I soaked my nuts in the alcohol as well. Softened them up a bit but still kept their own flavor.

    1. Hello, Naom, I sometimes soak the nuts, too, with good results. I’m glad you enjoy this recipe.