This recipe developed many years ago from a desire to make a holiday fruitcake, but one full of good things and real dried fruit; not those green and red things one finds in a typical fruitcake (what are those, anyway…?) I began with a recipe I found for a honey-sweetened, carrot quick bread and went from there. What I arrived at is really nothing like a fruitcake; it is sweet, moist and spicy, it is very adaptable, and freezes well. And its aroma is the very essence of Christmas.
1 ½ to 2 cups finely grated carrots
2 cups mixed dried fruit (I used ½ cup each raisins, sultanas, cherries and apricots. You may use what you like, as long as it is snipped or chopped small.)
1 ½ cups honey
2 teaspoons each salt, cinnamon and allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
4 Tablespoons butter
3 cups water
3 cups whole wheat flour (you will get different results from pastry flour or stone-ground, but both will work)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
(optional) 2 teaspoons rum extract
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour three 8”x 4” loaf pans.
In a large saucepan, mix together the carrots, dried fruit, honey, butter, spices and the water. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature. (I hurry the process by placing the pot in a sink partially filled with cold water.)
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, wheat germ and chopped nuts. Add these to the cooled ingredients in the pot and stir until well mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for about 50 minutes, testing with a cake tester or toothpick.
Cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack before wrapping in foil and freezing.
Nadja Van der Stroom is a late-bloomer who farms, discovers, and creates alongside her husband and six children on a small bit of earth in Tennessee. She writes about her chaotic, creative, sticky life on her blog, Patch O’ Dirt Farm.