For the first time ever last Christmas, I made fruitcake. It was a massive undertaking. I started with
Alton Brown's "Free Range Fruitcake" recipe, and de-carbed it. There was a lot of bother and a fair
amount of cash involved in just procuring all the necessary ingredients. This wasn't so much a baking
project as it was an investment.
A pretty risky investment, too, I thought. What fantasy world was I living in? Sure, I could make an
edible fruitcake, but could I make one that would not throw my system off kilter?
My fears were somewhat allayed as, after endless chopping, I finally stirred the fruits together to
macerate in golden rum. It smelled right, anyway. As I stirred up the batter and popped the loaves
into the oven, I wondered if I could really pull this off. Could it possibly taste as good as
With the first bite, I was, like Marcel Proust with his famous madeleine, transported in time and
place, back to my mother's kitchen, as dense, dark brown fruitcakes emerged from the oven. Then I
was with my Dad, drinking hot black tea with milk, nibbling on fruitcake during a late evening
snack. Twenty-odd years and 2,500 miles evaporated, and I was home again. Even though my
fruitcake was lighter than my mom's, the taste was true: the essence was the same.
The nostalgic feeling was the strongest with the first piece, but I got an echo of it every time
I had a slice of that fruitcake. It was like revisiting childhood for just a moment, a rush of
warmth and comfort. It's one of the best feelings there is.
You might not like fruitcake much at all, but I'll bet there's some old favorite food that will
put you on the next Time Travel Express. Maybe it's oatmeal for breakfast on a cold morning.
Maybe it's pumpkin pie, or even chicken pot pie.
Just because you've adopted a different approach to carbohydrates doesn't mean you'll never get
to take the Time Travel Express again. I'm not saying that we can perfectly adapt all your
high-carb favorites without losing any flavor or texture along with all the carbs. What I am
saying, though, is that it may be possible to capture the essence of your old favorites, so
that you can enjoy them, and your memories, without hurting yourself.
If there's something you're hankering for, drop me an email, and I'll see what I can do. In
the meantime, here's the fruitcake recipe. Please don't write asking me for nutrition
information; I'm frankly afraid to tote it all up. There are a staggering number of carbs
per serving (just south of 20!), but that's still a fraction of the grams a traditional
fruitcake would have. And it tastes just delightful. This is an indulgence I'm willing
Lower Carb Fruitcake
Adapted from Alton Brown's Free Range Fruitcake
- 1 inch fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 C sugar free vanilla syrup
- ? C golden raisins, snipped in half or roughly chopped
- 5 dried plums (prunes), diced
- ? 12 ounce package cranberries, dried (see note)
- ? 16 ounce package frozen blueberries, dried (see note)
- ? C sugar free dried cherries
- 6 dried apricots, diced
- Zest of one lemon, chopped
- Zest of one orange, chopped
- 1 C golden rum
- ? C + 2 T sweet (unsalted) butter (1+1/4 sticks), softened
- 1 C double-strength cranberry apple herb tea
- ? tsp cloves
- ? tsp allspice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 C almond flour
- 1 C vanilla whey protein powder (Designer Whey)
- ? C vital wheat gluten
- ? C oat flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- ? C toasted pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
Combine the diced ginger and sugar-free syrup in a large microwave-safe container and
microwave on high for 2 minutes, or simmer together on the stove-top for 2 o 3 minutes.
Note: I couldn't find sugar free dried cranberries or blueberries anywhere, so
I dried my own. Simply rinse and dry either fresh (cranberries) or frozen
(blueberries) fruit, and arrange in a single layer on parchment paper (not wax
paper - the fruit will stick; aluminum foil may work but I haven't tried it,
so you're on your own there), and then dry the fruits at the lowest temperature
your oven will hold. Mine goes down to about 225 degrees, which worked out
fine. I think 175 degrees would actually be ideal. It will take several hours
but all you really need to do is put them in and forget about them for an hour
or so, then check on them periodically until they are nicely dried out. Do
not skip this step! You need to use dried fruit so that they will absorb the
flavor of the rum and spices and give you that authentic fruitcake step.
Combine the ginger mixture, dried fruits, and both zests with the rum, and allow to
macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate the fruit.
Combine fruit, liquid, butter, apple cranberry tea, and spices in a non-reactive pot
and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, then
remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. You can complete up to
this step ahead of time, and refrigerate this mixture up to 2 days until you're ready
to continue baking. Let this mixture come back to room temperature before continuing.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the dry ingredients and sift them into the fruit mixture. Stir just to combine,
then add the eggs one at a time and stir until they are well mixed. Stir in the nuts.
Spoon into a well-greased standard loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes; check for
doneness with a toothpick. Do not under bake this cake, and don't worry too much
about over baking - because of all the fruit (and later basting with brandy), it's
not as subject to being dry as other low carb baked goods can be.
You can also bake about 4 mini-loaves; start testing for doneness at about
Remove the cake(s) from the oven and cool on a rack. Baste the top with brandy and
allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. When the cake is completely
cooled, seal in an air-tight container, and baste with brandy every 2 or 3 days.
The cakes flavor will deepen and develop over time, but I've never had one last more
than a week, so I can't say how long the shelf-life actually would be! Traditional
fruitcakes, with all their sugar and alcohol, will keep for weeks well-wrapped on
the shelf, but please store these lower-carb lovelies in the refrigerator just to
Copyright © December 2004 Joan Hedman and Low Carb Luxury