Posted by: aboutalbion | November 15, 2012

Low fat fruit cake (US version)

I’ve been asked for advice from a resident in New England about the ‘Low fat fruit cake’ recipe which I posted on 24 June this year.

The first difficulty is that recipes in grams seem to be unknown in the US.  Instead, everything seems to be based on the “cup”.  The second challenge is that she wishes to use oat flour (which I have never used before).

Since I don’t believe in posting recipes until I have cooked them myself, I have today cooked this revised recipe, and this photograph shows what came out of the oven a few minutes ago.  And by using orange juice instead of hot black tea, I showed myself that probably (almost) any liquid can be used to soak into the vine fruits.

I made my own oat flour by ‘blitzing’ rolled oats, and I’m pleased that it has risen just like the wheat flour recipe (with the help of the baking powder and the extra egg – and the egg foaming stage).

Since I have a different cake to finish up in the next couple of days, I shan’t cut this one until the weekend.  But this one feels appropriately firm and the aroma is good, so I believe that it will be worth the waiting …

Prepare a lined 8in cake tin (with detachable bottom).

2 and 1/2 cups of dried fruit (roughly equal quantities of currents, raisins, sultanas)
about 18 glace cherries (cut up into quarters)

Put the vine fruits and cherries in a large mixing bowl.

1 cup of dark brown soft sugar
1 and 1/5 cups of (sweetened) orange juice

Gently heat the sugar and orange juice in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Pour the contents of the saucepan into the mixing bowl, stir, cover, and leave to soak for at least 2 hours (or overnight).

3 and 3/4 cups of oat flour
1T ground mixed spice
3t baking powder

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl with the soaked fruit, and stir until well mixed.  (The consistency of the mix at this stage should be very sticky.)

2 large eggs (at room temperature)

In a suitable clean bowl, (and using an electric whisk), whisk the eggs for several minutes until the egg foam starts to thicken (and there is a hint of soft peaks).

Add the egg foam to the mixing bowl, and gently fold in with the minimum use of the spoon.  (The consistency of the mix at this stage should be only just pourable.  Consider adding a little extra orange juice or oat flour to achieve this.)

Transfer the mixture into the lined cake tin (and level the top).

Put the cake (with a foil cover) into the middle of a pre-heated oven at GM4 (180C, 350F), and bake for 75 minutes (turning after 45 minutes) – until firm to touch on top.

Let the cake stand for five minutes, and then remove the cake from the tin.

[(Optional)  After another five minutes, I inverted the (still hot) cake, trimmed the lining to just cover the circular base, remove the base lining, and drizzled 2T of brandy into the base. After a few more minutes, I returned the lining to the base, turned the cake the right way up, and let it cool on a wire rack.]

[Note: 1T = one tablespoon, 1t = one teaspoon.]



  1. I’m waiting for your “verdict” on this cake – I was wondering if orange juice was a good idea – don’t you think it would make it a bit “tangy” – there must be a reason why we soak it in tea – maybe the tannic acid works on the fruit – so now that I think of it I don’t think just “any liquid” would do – like you probably wouldn’t use milk or water – Orange juice has acid in it and so does tea – just my two cents …

    I’m planning on making this for Thanksgiving – today I bought some dark raisins and I don’t have sultanas so yellow raisins woiore for that – it is not common here – because Americans put every other fruit EXCEPT for raisins, sultanas and currants in their fruitcake – ha ha – but seriously some people have not even heard of the existence of currants out here –

    Last thing – don’t you grease the sides of the cake pan?
    I figured that “mixed spice” is our “pumpkin spice” – which is cinnamon, nutmeg, clove etc.

    I can’t wait to make this –

    Take care


    • Yes, I agree, Lara, I wouldn’t use water or milk either. But orange juice has ‘worked’… I’ve just look at the ingredients of (UK) mixed spice and you have intuited correctly – it’s your pumpkin spice. No, I don’t grease the sides of the cake pan because the lining paper for the sides and bottom is baking parchment – which just peels off after cooking. [PS Actually, I do grease the sides of the cake pan, but that is to help the lining paper stick to the sides.] I shall post my verdict on the first slice (with another picture) in a few minutes time. If you go ahead with this cake for next Thursday, I wish you all the best for the outcome. Howard

  2. Hey Howard –
    I am so sorry it has taken me this long to get back to you – I am very upset about the Boston Marathon bombings – THANK GOD my friends who were running were not hurt, but I am very nervous about everything now – I don’t feel safe anywhere – just yesterday I walked on the street that they had the bombings on as it is a very popular shopping and restaurant street – I noticed all the preparations for the Marathon that were taking place and I was thinking of all the excitement and fun people would have – and look what happened – The Boston Marathon – or Marathon Monday as we call it, will never be the same again –

    To cheer myself up I am going to bake a fruit cake again – just today a friend of mine asked me if I made “that fat free fruitcake you are always talking about” – and I admitted that I did and it was a success, though a bit dry – I did however make the one where you soak the fruit in tea and I did add half a stick of butter because I was sending half to my sister – she LOVED the cake and so now I have to send her a recipe for it –

    My cake (the fat free one) was good – but a bit dry and I think its because my oven was too warm – I found out that it is “off”,by a good 50 degrees – so now if I want something to bake at 350 I turn the oven to 300 – –

    Anyway – I have been reading all your articles and I find them very interesting – especially the quotations and the recipes – your Simmel cake is very much like the fruit cake right? I am planning on making another “fat free cake” again, but this time putting 1/2 a cup of APPLE SAUCE in it – we Americans put apple sauce to make things moist – you guys probably use Prunes – anyway I am also planning to “ice” my cake with marzipan and hard icing (I guess you guys call it royal icing) and so I have bought 2 sticks of marzipan (Odense) and a whole box of confectioners sugar (icing sugar) and hopefully this cake will taste like the ones I used to get from Marks and sparks – I will let you know how it goes –

    Anyway, as I said at the beginning I have been SO BUSY from the time I wrote you – went to NYC for X’mas and New year – then came back to the Blizzard of the decade – I thought I would catch up on my e-mails to people, but we had NO INTERNET or Cable TV for a whole week – plus the whole city shut down for three days – thankfully we had some food in the house – and we considered ourselves lucky that we did not lose our electricity as we use heaters instead of central heater as it is more efficient – anyway, thank god winter is behind us and actually except for the blizzard, it was a good winter – not too cold and not much snow – I guess we got ALL OUR SNOW in one go – but I prefer it that way – it was quite fun once we got used to not having anyplace to go to – we took long walks in the snow in the middle of the street as all public transport was banned – it was very surreal –

    It’s late (1:30 a.m.) and I should be asleep, but I have been calling all my friends – we are all very upset – I never go to watch the marathon but I have friends who do run and watch – The Boston Marathon is very sacred to Boston and that is why people are so upset – it was a Boston institution – if you don’t live in this city it will be hard to understand the impact it has had on us – what I was surprised about was how “far” the news reached and even before we knew of it – my two roommates who work at Harvard and are from Greece and Bulgaria respectively had their parents call them from these countries – very worried about their children – I guess the media makes the world a smaller place these days –

    I hope all is fine with you -I read about your trip to S.America to visit your grandchildren and also your “Big Birthday” celebration – you are a very lucky person to have such a great life –

    I know this e-mail is long but I had to do this as I feel I “owe you one” since I did not reply right away – I will try to do better next time – and I will let you know about my cake – I just bought the brandy to marinate the stuff –
    Best wishes to you and your lovely family –



    • Thank you, Lara, for your chatty e-mail. I hope you are tasting spring where you are. In the UK, we have only just said goodbye to freezing cold nights. However, most of us now feel that spring is just round the corner.

      I think sensitive people everywhere will share your outrage at the deliberate, violent exploitation of Boston’s own special anniversary day.

      Thank you for commending apple sauce again as an agent that can give moisture to a cake. For myself, I am experimenting along the same lines with date puree. Each time I make one of my cakes, I am exchanging butter for date puree – gram for gram (or, if you prefer, ounce for ounce). So far the exchange is cooking and tasting fine.

      Take care, and best wishes … Howard

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