No added sugar fruit cake is packed with sweet, juicy dried fruits, so you really won't notice that the cake mixture is sugar-free. This low sugar fruit cake is moist and delicious, and it's much healthier.
This sugar free fruit cake is my go-to cake recipe which I've been making for many years. Like a traditional fruit cake recipe, it’ll store well for a few days. It also travels well (I know from experience it makes a perfect high energy snack for swimming galas!)
What you'll love about the recipe
- A delicious moist low sugar fruit cake perfect for celebrations and everyday treats
- Naturally sweetened with dried fruit. This healthy fruit cake has no sugar and no other sweetener in the cake batter
- Make a gluten free sugar free cake if you prefer
- Quick and easy to make
Dried fruit. I often use a standard supermarket bag of mixed dried fruit, but if you prefer to can make up a mix yourself with sultanas, raisins, currants etc. You also use other dried fruits such as chopped prunes, dates, figs and dried apricots.
Orange (or use 2 clementines). Orange zest adds flavour, and the juice adds moisture to the cake.
Ground cinnamon and allspice. You could also use other ground spices such as cardamom and cloves. Or just use mixed ground spice if that is what you have.
Plain flour. I've also made the recipe replacing half of the flour with wholemeal flour instead of white flour. It was nice, but slightly drier so for a Christmas or celebration cake I'd prefer to use white flour.
I also often make this as a gluten free sugar free fruit cake with a supermarket gluten free plain flour blend, and that works perfectly.
There is baking powder in the recipe, although the cake won't rise by a huge amount.
Butter. I use unsalted butter to make the cake. If you'd prefer, you can make a no fat no sugar fruit cake.
Eggs provide structure, and you'll also need a splash of milk.
If you are making a sugar free Christmas fruit cake, you could add a festive twist by soaking the fruit in brandy rather than orange juice. I have also used rooibos tea and that adds a lovely rich flavour.
If you like nuts in your fruit cake, feel free to add those in. Around 50g of your favourite chopped nuts would be good, and almonds work very well.
You can also add glace cherries, but they will add extra sugar.
How to make low sugar fruit cake
Boiling the fruit is the secret to a super moist healthy fruit cake. It just takes a few minutes, but makes a big difference. The dried fruit will be extra juicy.
Juice the orange and make up to 100 ml with water. Add to a pan along with the orange zest, the dried fruit and spices. Bring up to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes and leave to cool.
Grease and line the base and sides of a 1lb (450 g) loaf tin. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (140 fan).
Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk. You can either use an electric hand mixer or a hand whisk. (Don't use a food processor with a chopping blade, otherwise the dried fruit will become chopped.) Add the softened butter, flour, baking powder and milk and mix well until smooth.
Add the dried fruit and mix well.
Tip into the prepared tin and bake for an hour.
Keep an eye on the cake to make sure that the top doesn't start to go too dark. If necessary, cover the top with a sheet of foil.
Once the cake is cool enough to handle, remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Sugar free Christmas cake
For an easy sugar-free Christmas fruit cake, I make double the quantity of mixture and cook the cake in a 23 cm loose-bottomed round tin. (Or you could use a 2lb/900 g loaf tin if you prefer). Extend the cooking time by half an hour.
I don’t ice the cake as I think it detracts from the rich fruit flavour (as well as adding heaps of sugar!). However, there are still plenty of options to decorate a healthy Christmas fruit cake. I like to use dried fruit and nuts arranged in a pattern.
To get a shiny top to your healthy Christmas cake, melt a little sugar free apricot jam or honey with a teaspoon of water and brush onto the top.
If you want to add marzipan to the cake, use this sugar free marzipan recipe. You could also use it to mould Christmas decorations for your cake. And of course, a bright ribbon around the outside gives a festive touch.
You could also use this recipe to make a sugar free Easter Simnel cake. For a traditional look, decorate with 11 almond and honey marzipan balls.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can make a cake without adding table sugar. In the case of this sugar free fruit cake, there's no added sugar as the dried fruit is naturally very sweet. You can also use other fruits and even vegetables to sweeten a cake instead of adding sugar. I prefer not to use artificial sweeteners, so if I do need to add a little sweetness to a cake recipe, I'd rather use honey. Follow a recipe which has been specifically developed to be baked without sugar. There's plenty of ideas in this healthy cakes and treats category.
This fruit cake is a healthier choice than many other recipes. However, even though it is made without added sugar, it's still something to be enjoyed in moderation. Dried fruit is naturally high in sugar, and there's also butter in the cake.
This sugar free fruit cake has 319 calories for a generous slice. If you want a lower calorie fruit cake, try this fat free fruit cake which is made using applesauce instead of butter.
You can store this cake in an airtight container for up to a week. Unlike a conventional fruit cake, it cannot be stored for months. That's because the sugar in a conventional recipe acts as a preservative. If you want to store this sugarless fruit cake for longer, wrap it well and freeze it.
If you'd like a lighter carrot-cake-style recipe, try this healthy carrot and apple cake, which also has no added sugar. Or if you are looking for a fat free sugar free fruit cake, then you can use applesauce to keep the cake moist and delicious.
Other healthy Christmas recipes
You can see a roundup of other healthy and delicious Christmas recipes here
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a rating and/or comment at the bottom of the page. Your feedback and questions are much appreciated.
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No Added Sugar Fruit Cake
- 375 g mixed dried fruit
- ½ orange or 1 clementine
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 large eggs
- 100 g butter, well softened
- 150 plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat the oven to 160/140 fan.
Preparing the fruit
- Zest the orange and squeeze the orange juice, and make up to 100 ml with water. Add to a pan along with the dried fruits and spices. Bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes or until most of the juice has been absorbed. Leave to cool.
Preparing the tin
- Whilst the fruit is cooling, prepare the tin. Line the bottom and sides of a 1lb loaf tin with buttered greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
Mixing the cake
- Beat the eggs, and mix in the softened butter, flour and baking powder. Stir in the milk. Add the cooled soaked dried fruit and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top level
- Bake for 1 hour. If you are making double the quantity, increase the baking time to one and a half hours. The cake should be lightly browned, and if you insert a skewer if should come out clean.
- If you want to make a healthy Christmas cake, double the recipe and bake in a 23 cm round tin. Add an extra 30 minutes to the baking time.
- You can also add alcohol such as brandy or orange liqueur instead of the orange juice.
- Chopped nuts will also make this cake more festive - if you making a double quantity, add 100 g of your favourite nuts. Pecans, walnuts or almonds all work well.
- You can either add a glaze made with sugar free apricot jam or honey. Just melt the jam in a pan with a teaspoon of water and brush onto the cake. You can also decorate with extra dried fruits and nuts, or this honey and almond marzipan.
- For a gluten free fruit cake, use a plain gluten free flour blend.
Please note nutritional information is per serving and is provided for guidance only.