We’ve all heard jokes about the awful fruitcake that gets re-gifted again and again, year after year.
Well, this ain’t your grandma’s fruitcake.
Sure, it has the fruitcake fruit and nuts … but Christmas Bread has a lighter bread batter that tones down the sticky sweetness of traditional fruitcake. Try it once and it’ll quickly become an anxiously-awaited holiday treat.
This recipe was adapted from The Southern Hospitality Cookbook written by Winifred Green Cheney back in 1976 (~$4 incl. shipping, if bought used on Amazon).
- 3 cups self-rising Flour
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1½ teaspoons ground Cinnamon
- 1¼ cups chopped Candied Fruit (cherries, pineapple, citron, orange, and lemon peel)
- 1¼ cups Raisins, dark and/or golden
- 1¼ cups chopped Pecans (or Walnuts)
- ¼ cup self-rising Flour to dust the fruit
- 2 large Eggs, room temperature
- 1½ cups Milk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- disposable Baking Pans
- Non-stick Spray
- Flour to dust baking pans
- Candied Cherry Halves
- Pecan Halves
Makes 1 large loaf (pan 11 in. x 5 in. x 3 in.), 2 medium loaves (pans 8 in. x 4 in. x 2 in.), or 5 small loaves (pans 6 in. x 4 in. x 2 in.).
Pull out the eggs first so they can warm up to room temperature as you gather all your ingredients and tools.
Flour is used three times in this recipe (batter, dusting fruit, and dusting pans).
We like to mix the flavors of both dark and golden raisins.
This recipe calls for cups of candied fruit, which is typically sold by weight. A rough conversion is [ 1¼ cups = ~6 oz. ] per batch. So, the 32-ounce package we bought will make about 5 batches.
We prefer the convenience of disposable (gift-able) baking pans but you can always use normal pans, lined with wax paper.
Many of these ingredients have coupons available online (check Coupons.com and various brand websites). This season I got $1.50 off Fisher Pecans, $.50 off Candied Fruit, and $1 off Disposable Baking Pans.
(photos of a double-batch)
- Pull out 2 eggs to warm on the counter.
- In a large bowl, sift 3 cups of flour. Stir in sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together candied fruit, raisins, and pecans. Toss with ¼ cup flour and set aside.
- In a small bowl, beat room-temperature eggs until light. Then blend in milk and vanilla extract.
- Pour this egg mixture into the large flour mixture bowl and mix well on medium speed.
- Mix in vegetable oil gradually.
- Finally, stir in the dusted fruit and nut mixture.
- Spray the baking pans with non-stick spray and dust with a little flour.
- Pour batter into loaf pans (only 2/3 to 3/4 full).
- Preheat oven to 325-350°F while you let the batter stand for 30 minutes.
- Decorate loaf tops with pecan halves and candied cherry halves just before baking.
(photos of a double-batch: 4 medium loaves)
Christmas Bread has a dark batter that may easily over-brown. With that in mind, you should err on the side of baking a little longer at a slightly lower temperature.
Bake at 325-350°F. Baking times will vary, based on your particular oven and pans:
- 1 large loaf takes 75-90 minutes (1 hr. and 15-30 min.).
- 2 medium loaves take 50-60 minutes.
- 5 small loaves take about 45 minutes.
Loaves should be a golden brown when done … but test with a toothpick to confirm.
Cool on a wire rack. If using normal (non-disposable) pans, remove loaves from pans after 10 minutes and continue cooling on the wire rack.
SERVE AND EAT:
At our house, the first bits of Christmas Bread are typically eaten with fingers, straight from the pan, nearly burning the roof of my mouth ( :^þ). More restrained people actually allow it to cool a little.
Try it plain (pure?) … or top with butter or cream cheese.
Christmas Bread tastes great fresh out of the oven or at room temperature but it also reheats easily in the toaster oven or microwave.
Baked loaves will stay fresh for a week or two if wrapped in foil or kept in a disposable pan with a plastic lid. Ours get eaten much too quickly to verify this projected shelf life.
Take a large, hot loaf of Christmas Bread to your next Christmas party.
Give a small loaf, wrapped in a cute kitchen towel, to each of your neighbors as a friendly Christmas morning gift.
Just be sure to tell folks it’s Christmas Bread
— not typical fruitcake —
so they’ll give it a chance!
… Or, just bake it for yourself and hide it from everyone,
in the hording style of pre-ghost-visitation Ebenezer Scrooge.