Perhaps no single food item is the brunt of more jokes and negative attention than the Christmas fruitcake.  They can last for like a hundred years and make a good substitutes for bricks right?  That’s what I’ve heard anyway.  Just kidding, sort of.  Fruitcakes have been around for a really long time, dating all the way back to Ancient Egypt, although I’m not sure if they actually ate them or just locked them up in tombs so pharoahs could have a snack that would last them their entire afterlife.  Nowadays, this type of cake is typically saved for special occasions, like Christmas, and are thus commonly referred to as “Christmas Cakes.”

Fruitcake, at least traditionally, is a pretty dense yeast cake filled with raisins, other dried fruits, things that look like cubes of jelly, maybe some nuts and are sometimes soaked in alcohol. Just reading that description, minus the alcohol part, it is easy to understand why many people steer clear of fruitcakes.  In honor of National Fruit Cake Month, we are going to try give the fruitcake a chance.  If traditional British/American or storebought fruit cakes just aren’t doing it for you, don’t worry.  Plenty of cultures around the world have their own version of the Christmas cake, and whether it is the addition of more spices, or a total change from the norm, one of these global renditions might just become your new favorite holiday dessert.  Check out our favorite fruitcakes from around the world:

1. India – Kerala Plum Cake (via Edible Garden)

Kerala Christmas plum cake

This is the Indian version of fruitcake, and is pretty similar to the traditional cakes we are familiar with, but with a few changes.  In addition to the typical spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, this cake is also flavored with cardamom.  Also, the fruits do not need to be soaked, nor does the cake have to be soaked in alcohol and let set, so it is great if you need to make a fruit cake at the last minute.

2. Trinidad – Trinidad Black Cake (via My Gingerbread Men)

trinidad black cake

This type of cake is found a lot in different areas of the Caribbean, and it gets its signature dark color and unique flavor from the addition of burnt sugar syrup.  This version of a fruit cake has no shortage of alcohol, as the fruit is soaked in dark rum, and that liquid is later brushed all over the cake.

3. Scotland – Dundee Cake (via Canadian Living)

Dundee Cake

These cakes are pretty close to the traditional notion of what a fruitcake is, but the Scottish version, and thus, after the cakes are baked, they are wrapped in cheesecloth and soaked in whiskey.  This process is generally called “feeding,” and you can brush the cakes with more alcohol over the course of a few weeks, and this helps give them that long shelf-life.  These cakes are really pretty, thanks to the circles of almonds covering the top.

4. Italy – The Best Panettone Ever (via Hunger Hunger)

Italian Panettone

Panettone is a classic Italian Christmas tradition, but is more of a sweet bread than an actual cake.  They key element that sets Panettone apart is the strong presence of candied orange peel.  It is possible to make these on your own, but involves a lot of work, so you may just want to find somewhere, maybe a bakery, that imports them.

5. Italy – Tartine’s Panforte with Candied Quince (via the Wednesday Chef)

Italian panforte

This is another Italian Christmas classic, and is very dense and sort of chewy, like a cross between a sticky candy and a dense cake. It is loaded with any kind of dried fruit imaginable and nuts, so not only is it sweet and sticky, but crunchy too.  The author of the recipe suggests cutting it into small wedges, and packaging them as gifts for friends and family, just make sure you keep some for yourself too.

6. Germany – Christmas Stollen Recipe (via She Knows)

Christmas stollen

Stollen is the German version of holiday fruit bread or cake.  This recipe focuses on creating the actual bread, but sometimes it is also coated in a thick sugary icing, if you really want to sweeten up your holiday.

7. Eastern/Central Europe – Poppy Seed and Walnut Strudels (via Dragan Bakes)

Poppyseed strudel

Poppy seed filling is very common in sweets and pastries in Eastern and Central Europe, and is combined with ground walnuts to make this strudel that is popular for Eastern Orthodox Christmas, which happens about 2 weeks after Christmas on the 25th.

8. Japan – Japanese Christmas Cake (via Sugar and Snapshots)

Japanese Fruit cake

If none of these fruit cakes have seemed appealing to you yet, the Japanese Christmas cake may be the one to win you over, because it bears absolutely no resemblance to traditional fruit cake, and is more closely related to a strawberry shortcake. It is essentially a sponge cake layered with cream and strawberries, but the cream and cake are less sweet than what you would find in a typical strawberry shortcake.

Would you try any of these Christmas cakes?


Jaimie is a senior at Adelphi University studying Communications and Political Science. She enjoys exploring and adventures, and recently spent a semester abroad in Prague.