Nobody likes a fruitcake, right? That’s a trope so old that I’ve never even been quite sure what a fruitcake actually is—just that it’s something nobody wants to get come the holiday season. But Wikipedia informs me that while fruitcake typically refers to a sweet cake baked with dried or candied fruits and nuts, any cake with fruit as an ingredient “can also be colloquially called a fruitcake.” Which inspired me to try coming up with a healthy, vegan fruitcake, using the pomegranate and persimmon I had in my fridge.
Turns out (yes, this is more Wikipedia reading, here), the earliest fruitcake recipes, from ancient Rome, list pomegranate seeds as an ingredient (along with pine nuts, raisins and barley mash). Fruitcakes from the Middle Ages used honey. Candied fruitcakes became popular starting in the 16th century, because they were cheap and sugary. In the Bahamas, fruitcakes are soaked in rum. In the UK, traditional Christmas fruitcake is covered in Marzipan and an egg-white dressing (seriously, British food is the worst). Mail-order fruitcakes started shipping in America in 1913. In Germany, Christmas fruitcakes are made with yeast, raisins and almonds; in Canada, fruitcakes are dark, moist, undecorated and shaped like a loaf of bread.
The point being: You can make something not-terrible and call it a fruitcake. Or, I did, and am going to, anyway. So here’s my vegan, whole-wheat pomegranate and persimmon fruitcake recipe. Happy holidays. It makes about two loaves, so you may want to half it (or triple it—vegan fruitcake for everyone!).
Vegan Pomegranate and Persimmon Fruitcake
Makes: 2 loaves
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts or almonds
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp nutmeg
1 cup sucanat or brown sugar
2 tbsp sea salt
1 pack (7 oz) Red Star Quick Rise Yeast
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp molasses
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1-2 cups persimmon, chopped
• In large bowl, sift together flour, flaxseed, nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, salt and yeast.
• In a separate bowl, mix together milk, water, olive oil and molasses.
• Add pomegranate seeds and persimmon to dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Stir everything together.
• Pour in lightly-oiled or sprayed 8-inch bread loaf pan, about 3/4 full.
• Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.