Fruitcake has a bad reputation. Nobody loves it, yet puts up with it because of the tradition and whatnot. And although some of you may find it hard to believe, fruitcake can be really delicious!
In this veganized version of the milenia-old (oh, yes – fruitcake dates back to Ancient Rome) tradition, I skip the butter, extra sugar, and eggs and go really wild with dried fruits. I combined everything I could get my hands on – figs, dates, cranberries, apricots, prunes, and pineapple – with a nice selection of spices featuring orange and lime zest, as well as almond extract, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I also used some finely grated, almost sauced, zucchini as a binder, and roughly chopped walnuts and red maraschino cherries for some added texture.
The key to this cake is soaking the fruit and although you could soak the fruit in rum, as is the custom, I soaked mine in water to avoid being too over the top with the flavors and the kick to the system this cake delivers. Although most of the alcohol would evaporate as the cake bakes, I wanted to keep this one rated G so that both kids and adults can enjoy as much of it as they like and decided to skip the rum altogether. At the end, the most important thing is to let the fruit soak in liquid (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) because that will help keep the cake moist and soft.
This fruitcake is pretty rich and filling. It makes for a lovely treat, as well as an excellent breakfast choice. It is definitely one more thing to add to your list of vegan Holiday treats and traditions, like the Peppermint Bark and the Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes. If you are wondering whether this cake can be made gluten-free, the answer is yes, absolutely! Just use your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour and go for it.
Vegan Fruitcake with Zucchini
What you’ll need:
1 zucchini, small (1 1/2 cup grated)
5 medjool dates
15 dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup dried pineapple
5 dried figs
1/3 cup prunes
1 cup maraschino cherries, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lime
What you’ll do:
- Combine all the dried fruits in a large bowl, cover with warm to hot water, and let soak for 30-60 minutes. Drain the fruit, pat dry to remove excess water, and chop to bits and pieces of different size. Place into a large mixing bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
- Grate the zucchini using a fine grater or a food processor. The finer the grating the better!
- Add the zucchini and the rest of the ingredients to the chopped fruit and mix well until everything is combined.
- Line the bread pan, or any other baking pan (I used a spring form pan because it makes getting the cake out a breeze), with some parchment paper. Pour in the fruitcake batter and spread around to form a 1.5 in (3-4 cm) thick layer. The cake will not rise much, and it will be quite moist, so don’t make it too thick as your surface will burn while you wait for your center to bake.
- Bake for 35 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake stand for at least 15 minutes, ideally an hour, before cutting and serving. Serve with some vegan whip cream, ice cream, or with a glass of eggnog, and enjoy the season!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017