With the holiday season getting closer, you may have started thinking of the desserts you’ll make for your loved ones. Fruit cake is sure to be one of the first things that come to mind, but which one should you make?
There are light varieties, dark ones, cakes with fruit on top, recipes with fruit integrated into the batter, and much more.
Read on to learn all about the common fruit cake types!
It’s really hard to give an exact number here since people classify fruit cake in different ways.
That said, we can look at the popular breakdowns in terms of technique, fruit freshness, and batter color.
You can always integrate the fruit into the batter. However, an upside-down fruit cake makes for a pleasing twist.
The distinguishing feature of this type is how you place the cake in your skillet.
As the name suggests, this fruit cake is baked upside-down with the toppings at the bottom of the pan. Once you finish baking and remove the cake from the oven, you transfer it from the baking pan to the serving plate and flip it over in the process.
You can make upside-down fruit cake with all sorts of fruit toppings, such as peaches, apples, cherries, mangos, or bananas.
Another type of fruit cake you can bake is one made with dried fruits.
People typically make it using raisins, plums, or pears. The recipes can call for pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, or pistachios to add some crunch.
The cherry on top is that dried fruit lasts a long time in the pantry, so you’ll always have a nice blend to throw into your fruit cake when the time calls for it!
I recommend using natural dried fruits instead of candied ones. This enhances your cake’s flavor and also makes it a healthier treat.
However, if you’re not one for dried or candied fruits, you can make your dessert with fresh fruit slices squished between layers of cake.
Virtually any fruit will do the trick, but I prefer to avoid citrus flavors like oranges and tangerines. Your tastebuds will thank you if you top your fruit cake with some delicious slices of strawberry, mangoes, peaches, or apples!
Note that, compared to fruit cakes baked with dried fruits, fresh ones usually have a spongy vanilla base instead of a dark and dense batter.
Speaking of batter color, we can classify fruit cake into two broad types: light and dark.
Both can be equally delicious, but if you want a rich, more complex flavor profile, your best bet is to make a dark base.
Thankfully, there are a few nifty ways to darken your cake. My favorite ones are:
- Using heavily-pigmented fruits (like currants)
- Going for a rich spice blend
- Adding a generous amount of molasses (or dark brown sugar)
On the other hand, pineapples, apricot, and white sugar can help you keep the batter light.
The best type of fruit cake for you depends on what you and your loved ones like.
If you prefer a spongier texture, go for fresh fruit on your cake. On the other hand, if you like to have some crunch, then dried fruits and nuts are better options.
For reference, your typical Christmas fruit cake is made with a mix of nuts and candied/dried fruits.
As with most Christmas traditions involving food, the popularity of fruit cakes during Christmas time originates from winter solstice festivals. Many millennia ago, people used to celebrate the change of seasons by gathering their final harvest and feasting on it.
With time, the customary foods to eat became baked goods like fruit cakes and Christmas cookies!
There are elegant-looking fruit cake types, like upside-down ones with their garnished tops. However, the other types include fresh-fruit recipes, recipes with nuts and dried fruits, light fruit cakes, and dark fruit cakes.
I recommend going for the fresh fruit variety only if you intend to eat it all soon. If not, go for a rich mix of dried fruits.
Whichever type of fruit cake you go for, you’re in for a treat!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.