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Buttermilk Fruitcake Recipe

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Buttermilk Fruit Cake Recipe

Buttermilk Fruit Cake is the perfect cake to have with your morning coffee. It is wonderfully moist and buttery and it is loaded with aromatic spices, dates, raisins, and currants. But take note, unlike most cakes, this one does not use any eggs. This recipe is adapted from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's excellent book called Home Baking. Like all of their books, it is full of wonderful stories, recipes, and photographs. There are recipes from all over the world covering pastries, breads, cakes and cookies. As they say in their introduction; "In this book, and in these recipes, we raise the flag of home baking because we believe that if home baking traditions wither, then as a culture, and as home cooks, we lose a great deal." . I say "Here Here" to that.

When I was young, my mother baked a lot with dried fruits. Fresh fruits were quite scarce during the winter months so a good alternative was to use dried dates, raisins, and currants. Dates are the fruit of the palm tree, that grow in large bunches, with each date measuring up to 2 inches (5 cm) long. They have a high sugar content and are also a good source of protein plus Vitamins A & B. For this recipe we are using dried pitted dates and I like to buy the ones that are packed in 10 ounce (283 gram) plastic tubs. You can usually find them in the produce section of your grocery store. Because dried dates tend to be quite sticky, which makes cutting them difficult, this recipe tells us to take some of the flour from the recipe and use it when cutting the dates as this prevents them from becoming soft and mushy.

Next, the raisins. This cake contains both dark and golden raisins. Raisins, like dates, have a high sugar content, and are a good source of vitamins and iron. Because of their high sugar content they retain moisture which keeps any baked good, fresher longer. Raisins, like currants, are simply dried grapes. Both dark and golden seedless raisins come from Thompson seedless grapes. The difference is that dark raisins are sun dried which gives them that dark shriveled appearance. Golden raisins are treated with sulfur dioxide first to prevent them from turning dark and then air dried to keep them a lovely golden yellow color, plump, and moist. Currants, on the other hand, are dried Zante grapes and are dark, tiny, and very sweet.

This cake is very easy to make. Only a few bowls are needed, one for the dry ingredients and one for the wet ingredients. Then everything is mixed together and you are done. I love eating this cake when it is warm from the oven, as it is wonderfully moist and buttery. Well wrapped, it will keep for a couple of days, if it lasts that long.

Buttermilk Fruit Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour, or spray with a nonstick vegetable/flour spray, a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan.

Place about 1/2 cup (65 grams) of the flour on a cutting board. Coat the dates with the flour and coarsely chop the dates. (The flour prevents the dates from breaking down and becoming soft and mushy.)

Place all the flour and date mixture, along with the remaining 1 cup (135 grams) of flour in a large bowl. To the flour, add the sugar, salt, spices, and baking soda. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir the buttermilk mixture, along with the rest of the dried fruits, into the dry ingredients, mixing well. Immediately pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula or with the back of a spoon.

Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 50 - 55 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and pulling away a little from the sides of the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan. This cake is excellent warm from the oven or at room temperature. Can be covered and stored at room temperature, or in the refrigerator, for a few days.

Makes one - 9x5 inch loaf


Alford, Jeffrey & Duguid, Naomi. 'Home Baking'. Artisan. New York: 2003.

Herbst, Sharon Tyler. 'Food Lover's Companion'. Barron's. New York: 1995.


Buttermilk Fruit Cake:

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (90 grams) packed pitted dates

2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (65 grams) currants

1/2 cup (65 grams) dark raisins

1/2 cup (65 grams) golden raisins




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