Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's that time of year - Fruitcake Season!

It's an annual event in our family. My sister and I make our grandmother's fruitcake in the fall and I like to share this 150 year old classic recipe.  The recipe was a wedding gift to my mother's mother when she set up her first kitchen as a married woman.  Nana made it almost every year - with lots of help from all of us.  The original instructions were very sparse, so over the years we have added more instructions and hints.  It is definitely a piece of history!

Naomi got two yolks in that egg from one of Grammy's chickens!
  • 9 eggs
  • 2 cups of butter (real butter, not margarine or shortening!!!)
  • 2 cups of sugar (regular white sugar – not brown sugar!!!)
  • 4 cups of flour (I like unbleached white flour for this fruitcake – no one has ever used wheat in this recipe)
  • 4 pounds of fruit and nuts – use Candied pineapple, cherries, citron, orange and lemon peel; golden raisins (not dark raisins), pecans, and currants (if you like them – my sis and I don’t use the currants because we don’t like them =p). Just make sure that all of the fruit and nut amounts add up to 4 pounds. Doing the math is the hardest part of making this fruitcake. Take a calculator. Totally!
  • 1 cup of molasses (we use unsulfured dark molasses – yummy!)
  • 1 cup of brandy or fruit juice (I like orange juice in the fruitcake – My sister, Mary, likes brandy. Just make sure you use the same brandy to soak the fruitcake that you put in it. If you want to use brandy then use either peach or apricot brandy. Oh, and don’t soak the cakes in orange juice even if you did put it in the fruitcake – yuck! Just pick one of those brandies and use that to soak the cakes.)
  • You will also need one tablespoon of each of these spices (don’t omit any of them!!!) ~ allspice, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and cloves.
And you will need a huge wooden spoon, a big bowl, and a bigger than big bowl. Trust me!
Messy job number one: Grease the pans. Line the pans with parchment paper. Grease the paper. We use shortening to do this. For the 9 egg fruit cake you will need a herd of small loaf pans, or three small loaf pans and a large tube pan. I like the tube pan because I think the cake is really pretty even if it is harder to get the paper in there. Hey – it’s what Nana used *smiles* But, if you use the tube pan be prepared for it to cook a looooong time…
Messy job number two: Wash the raisins and pick out all of the stems. Do the same with the currants if you are using them. Nana used to do this the night before and leave them all to dry overnight. She liked currants so she always used them, too. Take your candied fruit and cut all of the candied cherries and candied pineapple pieces in half. After you have all of the fruit cut and the raisins and currants are dry, mix them all of the fruit and nuts together.
In another big bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition. Add molasses and mix well. You can use a mixer for this part (newly added to the instructions… hehe – but this is the only time to use the mixer!)
Sift flour and spices together. Combine the sifted flour/spice mixture with the fruit. This is very important because otherwise your fruit will all sink to the bottom. It’s okay if you have a little flour left – or you can just add it all to the fruit.  I have done it both ways, though, and as long as the fruit is totally coated with the flour mixture it will work okay.
Now you can put your mixer away unless you are not at all attached to it and you don’t care if it’s little motor burns up… (newly added to instructions due to life experience of a recent recipient of this recipe…) Note, again, you need a huge wooden spoon!
Now is also a good time to pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. And – VERY IMPORTANT!!! – put a big pan of water in the bottom of your oven. I use a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Make sure that this is always full of water or your fruitcake will be really dry.
Pour the creamed mixture into a huge bowl (trust me – big is not big enough) and add the fruit mixture a little at a time, alternating with a little brandy. Blend well after each addition. Continue adding the fruit mixture and the brandy until they are all in the creamed mixture.  This year, we added small amounts of the creamed mixture, fruit, and then brandy and it was actually a little easier to stir.  Be inventive - our ancestors were!
Okay – now fill all of those greased little and big pans about two thirds full of batter. You can bake them all at the same time, but make sure that there is a little space between them.
Your fruitcakes will take between one and two hours to bake. Listen to them – they make a happy sound when they are cooking. When they are done, they are silent (mostly). Test with a toothpick, too, but remember that they are moist. Also, look for them to pull away from the edge of the pans just a teeny bit when they are done. Done-nessabout an hour; tube pan takes at least two hours. Heavy on the “about”…
When they are done, let them cool completely. Soak the cheese cloth in brandy and wrap it all around the fruitcakes. Don’t get it too soggy or you will have squishy fruitcake on the outside. After they are wrapped in the brandy soaked cheese cloth, then wrap them tightly with heavy aluminum foil. My sister puts hers in the freezer, I prefer to leave mine in the fridge. They are best if you let them sit for a week or so – but that is really hard to do!
To see pictures as well as these instructions, check out this blog post from a previous adventure in fruitcake making - Fruitcake Recipe ~ The Spirit of Christmas Treasure Hunt!
Merry Christmas – hope your kitchen smells as nice as my sisters!

PS  This recipe is shared for your personal enjoyment - make it at your own risk!  Really good fruitcake is habit forming...


  1. I am one of those people who actually love fruitcake! My aunt used to make the best. I will have to compare your recipe to hers.

  2. fruitcake is so delicious! I've never made it before, and it looks very tempting... And pretty healthy, as far as desserts go! {:-D

  3. I LOVE fruitcake!! Your grandmother's sounds delicious. And I like your "herd of small loaf pans"!!

  4. Oh Yay! I am not alone! *ROFLOL* Fruitcake lovers of the world, unite!!!

    Splendid - What fun! I would love to know how the recipes compare =)

    story - This one is really ***rich*** with a nice molasses flavor behind all the fruit.

    haha - Sarah - lol - they look like I herd all lined up on the counter!

  5. I always enjoy reading about your fruitcake tradition :) I love that it is an old family recipe...complete with family utensils :)

  6. How nice of you to share your family recipe! Loved all the quips and stuff pertinent to how you all make it. I'm not a fan of fruitcake, but I've not had it in years. I may have to try it!

  7. Thanks, memories - that is the most fun part. We have a good time visiting and talking about the "past fruitcake adventures"... like the year my sister and I made the 18 egg cake and had to mix it in a bucket...

    Janet - Not all fruitcakes are created the same. My sis and I have sampled other cakes and they are not as rich and yummy as this one. LOL - you do have to have a sweet tooth to enjoy it, though! LOL

  8. Yummy! Hope you all enjoy that fruitcake :)

  9. I shared a lot of it, but I still have some to munch on - it is yummy!


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