Baking | Garam Masala Fruit Cake … a twist to the traditional, my recipe from scratch!

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”
Harlan Miller

Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala}I love this season, and agree with the quote above. Christmas is not our main festival, but certainly is an adopted one, one we have learnt to love. Christmas & New Year also mean FRUIT-CAKE season to us. My mother set the trend years ago, when she baked a fruit cake every winter without fail. Would you believe I never imagined that there could be people who dislike fruit cake? Crawled out from under a rock last year when I saw tweets being exchanged, and I discovered that there were 2 very definite sides to the fruit cake coin – LIKE vs HATE … no in betweens. Thankfully, we are a family who LOVE our fruit cake to bits. I have to hide the loaves from the daughter who loves a good fruit cake nibble.Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala}I heard her rummaging through the fridge and cupboards yesterday and I knew just what she was looking for! My precious cake has been wrapped and is maturing {in hiding}. We’ve had the ‘tasting ceremony‘ a few days ago, and the cake is darned good. Now to wait a few more days, and we shall savour it bit by bit. I am pretty miserly about it because I make it from scratch. Peels, chopping, caramel syrup, butter, weighing, zesting … I heave a sigh of relief when the fruit is finally soaked because the rest of the cake-making seems a cakewalk.

Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala} The fruit cake season was kicked off a couple of months ago with this traditional cake mixing ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn. That was a fabulous experience, and I still hold those huge bowls of peels and dried fruit in my eyes! At the time, I was hit by infectious enthusiasm and the drive back home saw me mixing my fruit the next day… well, in my thoughts!Mincemeat sans suet {with garam masala}How very ambitious! Back home and life returned to the fast track in the week to follow … mundanities like laundry, driving the hapless kids in circles, laying out winter flower beds, baking, pulling out winter clothes & putting away light summer mulmuls happened. The ‘traditional fruit mixing left on the back burner’, yet not forgotten.Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala}Each time I reached out for a baking ingredient I would see the fruit and promise myself, tomorrow! Tomorrow never comes! That ‘tomorrow’ came last week. I knew I was desperately late, and it was a now or never. Twitter was buzzing with fruit cake activity, Meeta had posted her gorgeous  cake, and frugal Monsieur Lebovitz had his list of fave Holiday Recipes out. Shameful that my fruit was still sitting pretty in bags!Mincemeat sans suet {with garam masala}I eventually emptied the fridge and larder out. It was like an end of year clearance, literally. I used all the left-over nuts and peels, making up the remaining weight with candied cherries and almonds. In went the bag of raisins from Madhulika in Nasik, currants and black raisins from Old Delhi, dried apricots which had seen better days {but were in for a sweet soaking}, leftover crystallized ginger and orange peels from a Lebovitz recipean entertaining connect of people, places, feelings as I mixed fruit! Instead of Christmas spice in the cake, I took my favoured route of garam masala.Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala}Have you ever added garam masala to your fruit cake? You really should try it. It doesn’t add curry flavours to your cake, I promise. It adds deep warm winter flavours that mingle with the fruit ever so deliciously, you’ll wonder what kept you away so long. Besides, making your own garam masala fills the house with wonderful warm aromas. I make a largish portion now and freeze it.Mincemeat sans suet {with garam masala}The fruit was soaked for 3 days, but overnight is good too. If you want to go the non alcohol way, just substitute the alcohol with fresh orange juice, but then store the soaked fruit in the fridge for a day or so. Alcohol preserves the fruit so they keep out in a cool place for long. I also added zest from the oranges, and on day 3 I had this fabulous plump shiny sweet smelling mincemeat of sorts. Not the traditional kind as that has suet and grated apple maybe, but my own sweet kind. I was delighted to find a similar link on David Lebovitz for a Quick Mincemeat.Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala}Once the fruit is mature, the rest of the cake is a virtual breeze. I follow a basic recipe that my mother learnt from a baking course almost 40years ago. The soaked fruit are tossed in the flour mix, coating each fruit well. This way the fruit doesn’t sink to the bottom. The cake gets a rich dark colour thanks to a caramel to which coffee is added. The rest is normal cake procedure. Butter & sugar beaten, eggs added, floured fruit folded in …  and off it goes to bake.

Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala}

Twitter got me great ideas from Barbara the Vino Luci gal {oh, she is sweet}, and Colleen aka Colly Wolly, the adorable Brown-Eyed Baker from South Africa. Barbaras Last Minute Fruit Cake, and CW was sweet enough to send me hers. I eventually made my own, but have to thank these 2 great gals for the inspiration. The world is certainly better with folk like you, and I can thank twitter for making 2010 such a wonderful year!

Mincemeat sans suet {with garam masala}Mincemeat or fruit mix, sans suet
{made from 1 kg of fruit/nut/peel combination}
300gms raisins, chopped if desired
200 currants
200gms black grapes, chopped
100gms crystallized ginger & orange peel {David Lebovitz recipe}, chopped
100gms almonds, chopped
50gm dried apricots, chopped
50gms candied cherries, chopped
1/4 cup Cherry liquor/brandy
1/2 cup rum {or brandy}
3/4 cup fresh orange juice {from 3 keenus/oranges}
Juice of 1/2 lemon {or 4 limes}
Zest of 2 keenus/oranges
4 tbsp garam masala
Mix all of the above nicely and soak overnight in a cool place, or for 3-4 days. The longer you soak the fruit, the more mature the flavour. I soaked mine for 4 days as I didn’t have time to bake. {You can substitute the alcohol with an equal amount of orange juice too}

Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala}Garam Masala Fruit Cake
1 kg mixed fruit,nuts,peel mincemeat {mincemeat recipe above}
3 cups plain flour
300gms unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
5 eggs
3/4 cup caramel syrup {Made with 1 cup of sugar caramelised. Add some water and heat gently to liquefy. Measure and top up with water to make 3/4 cup liquid. Cool}
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt {skip if using salted butter}
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Toss the soaked mixed fruit in the 3 cups flour well in a large bowl {I used a huge wok} so that the fruit is completely coated. Reserve.
Stir coffee into caramel syrup. Reserve.
Beat the butter and sugar till fluffy, 2 minutes, add the eggs and beat well again.
Now add the caramel syrup and vanilla extract and beat again for a minute till well incorporated. The mixture may appear curdled but that’s fine. Add baking powder and whisk again.
Turn this batter out over the mincemeat and stir well with spatula to blend uniformly.
Turn into lined loaf pans/baking tins and bake at 140C until the top appears done when you touch it, about 1 hour for the loaf pans, and almost 2-2 1/4 hours for my 15 X 11 tin. {Do keep an eye on the top of the cake. My ovens ‘bake’ setting is just the lower level so the top doesn’t brown too quick. If you find the top browning too soon, please slip a foil loosely over the top about an hour and a half into baking.}
Cool in tin, turn out and wrap in cling-film when cold. Allow to stand and mature in a cool dark place for a day or two, at least overnight. The longer it stands the better the flavours, but we never get that far in my fruit-cake loving household.

Christmas Fruit Cake {with garam masala}Note: You can poke holes on top and pour over some more rum/brandy if you like. In this case, first wrap it in cheesecloth, and then in clingwrap and store in a cool pace.

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About me: I am a freelance food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Food is my passion - baking, cooking, developing recipes, making recipes healthier, using fresh seasonal produce and local products, keeping a check on my carbon footprint and being a responsible foodie! I enjoy food styling, food photography, recipe development and product reviews. I express this through my food photographs which I style and the recipes I blog. My strength lies in 'Doing Food From Scratch'; it must taste as good as it looks, and be healthy too. Baking in India, often my biggest challenge is the non-availability of baking ingredients, and this has now become a platform to get creative on. I enjoy cooking immensely as well.


  • 5 years ago

    That is a wonderful addition! This fruit cake must taste divine and be marvelously moist.



  • 5 years ago

    Wow! That is splendid!!!! I’m sure the flavors were awesome…Merry Christmas to you!

  • Helene
    5 years ago

    I love your quote today. In my family I am the one that loves fruitcake the most. It’s not Christmas without a good fruitcake. We usually buy one, we never made it before. Yours must be fragrant with the garam masala.
    Helene´s last blog post ..Mexican Wedding CakesMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    Oh loving those fruit photos Deeba! What a wonderfully festive cake.
    Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family! xx

  • 5 years ago

    Superb! The cake looks fantastic.

  • 5 years ago

    Love love love everything both the cake and the pictures.. I am drooling wish I can get a slice…

  • 5 years ago

    That looks wonderful.
    Joy´s last blog post ..For the 8th Day of Christmas- I give to theeMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    Wow your fruit mixture is outstanding and what a great idea to ad garam masala!
    Lora´s last blog post ..Honey Mustard Macarons – A MacTweets ChallengeMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    The garam masala is a great twist to the traditional fruit cake. Great recipe :)

  • Swathi
    5 years ago


    Garam masala fruit cake looks awesome. It has all the flavors which we can ask for.

  • I was hoping you’d post that fruitcake recipe. Garam Marsala…now that sounds nice!
    Amanda at Enchanted Fig´s last blog post ..Fruitcake- an obsession- a loveMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    Oh Deeba, making your own fruit mix has its own charm.I did something like that last week though very generic.Afterall, I m not genius enough to induce warmth with garam masala..that is such a super idea. Your cake looks awesome.I love the way you combined indian flavors with the west.Merry Christmas!

  • 5 years ago

    Ok, where do I start? I love the photos and the styling; this is a really smart twist on a classic recipe and I really would like to try it, as I am a big fan of Garam Masala.
    dario @ foodpixels´s last blog post ..Potato gnocchi step by step- a photographic recipeMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    whata nice twist garam masala in fruit cake with huge quantity of fruit the cake is superlativeyummy…yummy and yummy

  • 5 years ago

    Aaahhh, I do believe ‘Deeba’s Done it Again!!!’ – awesome pictures, they really do say everything about Christmas…, I’m a big ol’ fan of the Chrissy cake & love the Garam Masala Fruit Cake recipe.

  • 5 years ago

    Brilliant suggestion….the cake must be divine with garam masala….I shall definitely try that out, thanks and Merry Christmas Deeba!!
    Patricia Shea´s last blog post ..Creating Limited Edition Holiday Reserve Packaging for Green Hive Honey FarmMy Profile

  • Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog
    5 years ago

    That Garam Masala fruit cake is an outstanding and unusual combination for me – you’re a master in baking :)

    All the best and Happy Holidays!

    Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog´s last blog post ..Guest Post on BizChickBlogs – Best of the Week in Blogging- Social Media- Food- Facebook and Internet ToolsMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    Love the garam masala in the fruit cake, Deeba. My fruit mix is still waiting to be baked. Mundane chores is making the delay, as mentioned in your post , Ditto :)
    Sanjeeta kk´s last blog post ..A Healthy Wholewheat Veggie Pot PieMy Profile

  • What a perfect way to add new life, and a delicious new flavor twist, to traditional holiday fruit cake, Deeba! I think of garam masala as a secret weapon in my kitchen arsenal, and you have certainly wielded it well here. And I have no doubt that your recipe would turn many of the fruitcake “haters” you mention into lovers.
    Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food´s last blog post ..Key Lime Pie Magic Cookie BarsMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    Simply gorgeous pictures Deeba! I think these might be my favourite pics of yours EVER. XXXX
    Sarah, Maison Cupcake´s last blog post ..Mich Turner Cupcake Decorating Masterclass at The Make Lounge- Islington or Why I’ll never get an MBE for Services to the Cake IndustryMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    I like the wooden chopping board a lot. Adding garam masala sounds like a really nice addition. I am on the “like” side of the fruit cake debate. How could anyone not? :)
    sarah, simply cooked´s last blog post ..eating healthy at ChristmasMy Profile

    5 years ago

    I just baked my fruit cake today..will post soon…yr garam masala idea seems perfect Dee :-)

  • 5 years ago

    What a wonderful idea and your jewel-like images of dried fruit are divine. Merry Christmas Deeba.
    Sally´s last blog post ..Mince pies and mulled wine with a secretMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    I have a golden fruitcake in the oven LITERALLY right now redolent with garam masala after reading this post…can’t wait to taste it…thanks for the inspiration…Patricia

  • 5 years ago

    Hello Deepa..thanks for visiting my blog to drop in ur words..
    I made it today morning too to bring for our office potluck party.
    You have a lovely blog with breath taking pictures,, Happy to follow ur lovely blog…
    Fruit cake looks yummy.
    Wish u and ur family a merry Christmas and a Happy new year.
    suhainaaji´s last blog post ..Baking Garam Masala Fruit Cake … a twist to the traditional- my recipe from scratch!My Profile

  • 5 years ago

    Shouts Fruit Cake!!!! Yum yum yum…your recipe is a genius twist! Glad to bookmark this one! Enjoy the season!

  • What a wonderfully creative idea Deeba! Garam Masala fruit cake just sounds so aromatically gorgeous! I hope you and your friends and family have a wonderful Christmas and New Year! 😀
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella´s last blog post ..Cinnamon Cookie Christmas WreathMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    You know, I hate to be the one to say this, but I never liked fruitcake. That said, yours sounds and looks heavenly and I would gladly try a slice. I now also want to add garam masala to cake, it sounds amazing! You are genius, my dear! I love the image of your mom rifling through your kitchen looking for the hidden cake! LOL! Poor mom! And your photos, as always, are beautiful! Thinking of you, sweet sister, at this holiday season! xoxo

  • 5 years ago

    I like the addition of garam masala. Simply beautiful!
    Divya Vikram´s last blog post ..Aloo Paratha with purple baby potatoesMy Profile

  • That cake looks gorgeous. I love fruit cake, have a great recipe too, but sometimes the fruit buying, chopping, soaking just seems like too much effort!

  • 5 years ago

    Hi Deeba,

    Check your inbox 😀
    I still can’t resist posting here.., I simply adored the pictures, and the entire feel.. and most importantly how you blog.. It is addictive!

    I so very wish to have a blog-sphere like this!

    Lots of warm wishes!

    Megha :)
    Megha´s last blog post ..Candid GirlMy Profile

    • 5 years ago

      Oh you are sweet Megha. Thanks for making my day! Got your mail, and replied to it too!

  • Pooja
    5 years ago

    Hi Deeba
    First timer here and must say that your blog and your cake both look gorgeous. I have soaked mincemeat ready but couldnt decide which recipe to follow as net is overflowing with them. but yours sounds delicious of all. just one query. Is it 2 tsp of baking powder for 3 cups of flour? because from what i know its 1 tsp baking powder/1 cup of flour. It would be great if you could help me with that.

    Thanks a lot

    • 5 years ago

      Hey there Pooja… that proportion {1tsp/1 cup}, IMHO, is when you need the cake to rise well like a sponge. A fruit cake is heavier/denser and doesn’t rise as much. I used 2 tsp and that worked for me.

  • 5 years ago

    I was just soaking fruit this week for panettone, and I love the flavors the fruit absorbs. Your fruitcake sounds amazing, and I’d love to try adding garam masala. Sounds delicious!
    lisaiscooking´s last blog post ..Glittering Lemon Sandwich CookiesMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    Christmas is for me also an adopted holiday, but I’ve learned to love it, too.The food, friends and family are what make it special. Lovely cake my friend!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year :)
    Ben´s last blog post ..GarabatosMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    A truly wonderful, classic, and traditional recipe that worth keeping. Hope you will have a happy Christmas Deeba.
    Elra´s last blog post ..SPRINGERLE- German Christmas CookiesMy Profile

  • 5 years ago

    Ha ha, I don’t hate fruit cake but I don’t actively seek it out either :) I actually eat fruitcake about once a year, at Christmas. My grandmother used to hide her cakes too and the unveiling was usually a very awaited event. Must try your recipe next year, sounds rich and decadent. Season’s greetings to you and your beautiful family.
    shaz´s last blog post ..Wishing you a berry merry Christmas with stollen Daring Bakers challenge Dec 2010My Profile

  • Angela
    5 years ago

    Seriously???? someone hates fruitcake??? For us it can never be Christmas without home made fruitcake. This year I made 2 big pans, and 1 of them just sported the parchment paper yesterday!! And garam masala… yeah.. its great I’ve been using it for the last couple of years, a friend of mine said she used it and I ran out of allspice and used the GM in a hurry. Have been a fan since then. Nice pics Deeba. Hope you enjoy the magic of the season.. even if adopted. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  • 5 years ago

    Happy holidays Deeba, love your food styling ,photography and Indian twists on traditional favorites

  • 5 years ago

    Oh my… all my missed opportunities when you were so near… now you are truly so far. Cake looks delish and I can smell it from here.

    Happy Holidays Deeba!
    Raaga´s last blog post ..Macaroni with Parsley-Peanut PestoMy Profile

  • Riddhi
    5 years ago

    this was the yummiest …..
    i loved the flavour and so did all at my brother’s christmas party….
    happy to follow u!!!!!!


  • 5 years ago


    I LOVE your site. It’s great fun.

    I’m actually ambivalent about fruit cake. Perhaps I have a different experience of it.

    My father was from Barbados. As a former British colony, the slaves obviously adapted the original Scottish/English fruitcake to tropical conditions.

    What that means is that traditional Caribbean fruitcake is made of fruits and nuts that have been soaked for months in a large ceramic crock. The soaking liquids are rum, wine, port, etc.

    After the fruits/nuts have soaked for months, they are mixed with flour, brown sugar, eggs, milk, etc. The resulting cake is kept moist by soaking it in additional port.

    It’s intense!!!!!!

    I’m not really sure what I think about the fruitcake.

    But I enjoyed reading your recipe!

    Keep up the great work with your site.


  • 5 years ago

    Hi Deeba,

    Wow, an explosion of flavors in this recipe. You must taste something different in each bite.

    You definitely have me thinking about exploring with garam masala in baking now, and other spice blends.


  • 4 years ago

    It tastes amazing, I baked it last weekend, my wife and kids loved it, in a week I’ll make a detailed recipe and share it with my ideas on my blog, hope you don’t mind if I’ll make a reference to your article. Cheers.

  • 4 years ago

    Deeba, the cake looks fab and delicious! Where do you get the dried orange peel – I normall ask someone from aborad to get it , but am clean out of it this year..

  • 4 years ago

    Thanks Deeba – guess will have to get someone to check out INA. Im unwell and in no shape to make it from scratch,

  • suguna
    3 years ago

    Hi Deeba,
    U mention adding salt in the recipe but when???? after adding baking powder or just in the beginning with flour?

  • suguna
    3 years ago

    Thanks so much for the recipe Deeba. I will be making my first fruit cake of my life this year. I like the addition of coffee and the garam masala. Isnt 4 TBSP over powering……u r the master and I know it works…..but still asking ……

    • 3 years ago

      Hi Suguna, Sorry updated the missing salt. 4 tbsp surprisingly wasn’t overpowering as it become quite mellow with all the soaking and the sweetness of the fruit. If in doubt, you could always use 3 tbsp. Thank you for writing in!

  • D
    2 weeks ago

    Can this recipe be halved?

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