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Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Here's a little slice of Christmas from the Italian Alps – my take on Zelten, a traditional fruitcake from the South Tyrol region. Zelten is a festive staple that dates back centuries, embodying the rich culinary traditions of this area where Italian and Germanic influences beautifully merge.

It's traditionally made during the Christmas season, and every family has their own unique version. This cake is a celebration of winter, with its hearty mix of dried fruits and nuts, and each bite is like a journey through the snow-capped mountains of Trentino-Alto Adige.

Now, while there are countless variations of fruitcakes around the world, Zelten holds a special place in my heart. My version brings together a medley of dried fruits like apricots, figs, and dates, all soaked overnight with a splash of Grappa for that extra depth of flavor.

Let it flambé...

The addition of fresh citrus zest and a mix of nuts, from walnuts to hazelnuts, creates a wonderful texture and taste. And let’s not forget the final flourish – a flambé with Cointreau that not only adds a sophisticated touch but also ignites a little excitement in the kitchen!

What I love about making Zelten is the way it fills the kitchen with the aroma of festive spices and sweet fruits, instantly transporting me to those quaint Christmas markets of Italy. Baking this cake is like wrapping yourself in a warm, festive blanket of flavors.

And when it's finally time to slice into the golden, fruit-laden loaf, it's not just a treat for the taste buds; it's a celebration of traditions, both old and new. So, whether you're enjoying a quiet moment with a cup of tea or sharing it with loved ones, this Zelten is a delightful way to savor the holiday spirit.



(Make 4.5 inch X 8.5 inch loaf)

  • Fruits:

  • Raisins, 50g

  • Dates Coarsely Chopped, 25g

  • Dried Apricots Coarsely Chopped, 75g

  • Dried Figs Coarsely Chopped, 75g

  • Fresh Orange Zest, 1 Orange

  • Fresh Lemon Zest, 1 Lemon

  • Fresh Orange and Lemon Juice, 50g

  • Grappa / Dark Rum / Brandy, 50g

  • Cake:

  • Unsalted Butter, 75g + More For Greasing

  • Granulated Sugar, 50g

  • Unbleached All Purpose Flour, 100g

  • Baking Powder, 1/2 TBSP

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • Cookie Spice Blend Homemade, 1 TSP

  • Eggs, 1

  • Nuts: I am using a combination of Walnuts, Pecans, Almond Slivers and Hazelnuts, 125g You can also use Pistachio or Pine Nuts

  • Almonds Blanced, For Decor (Optional)

  • Glazed Cherries, For Decor (Optional)

  • Apricot Jam, 1 TBSP

  • Cointreau / Grappa / Grand Marnier / Brandy, 1 TBSP + More For Flambé



  • Oven

  • 4.5" X 8.5" Loaf Pan

  • Hand / Stand Mixer

  • Blow Torch



  1. Please visit my "Cookie Spice Blend" page for the recipe.

  2. Soaking the fruits.

  3. Transfer everything into a large bowl.

  4. Mix until well combined.

  5. Cover with cling film and set aside at room temperature overnight.

  6. Prepare the cake.

  7. Preheat oven to 175 degree celsius or 350 fahrenheit.

  8. Lightly grease loaf pan or cake pan with butter.

  9. Lined with parchment paper on the bottom as well as the sides.

  10. Cream butter in a large bowl using a hand or stand mixer until it is mayo consistency.

  11. Add in the sugar and continue creaming until everything is well combined, light and fluffy.

  12. Next, fold in the flour, 1/2 portion at a time.

  13. Followed by baking powder, salt and cookie spice blend.

  14. Mix in the egg until homogeneous.

  15. Add in the dried fruit mix and nuts.

  16. Fold until well combined.

  17. Transfer into the prepared loaf pan.

  18. Level the top with a spatula.

  19. You can decorate the cake with some almonds and cherries.

  20. Wack into the oven and bake for 45 to 50 mins or until the top is browned and passes the skewer test. It will crack a little at the top.

  21. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.

  22. Mix apricot jam and Cointreau until well combined.

  23. Once cooled, unmold onto a shallow bowl.

  24. Brush the entire cake with the apricot jam mixture.

  25. Poke some holes on the cake with a skewer.

  26. Add 2 TBSP of Cointreau into a sauce pot.

  27. Using a blow torch to light up the Cointreau.

  28. *Be very careful when doing this.*

  29. Pour the flambé liqueur over the cake.

  30. Once the flame has seized, set aside to cool down completely.

  31. Once cooled, slice and enjoy.

Dense, fruity and Xmasy...

You have to give this a try...


Recipe Video:

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