Fruit Cake

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I’d post a few recipes for fruit cake. In my family, we enjoy fruit cake, because we know how to make it. Yes, fruit cake is dense, and many commercial fruit cakes are horrible. Yes, it can be a heavy dessert, so you only eat a small slice. But fruit cake has been around since Roman times…just not the same fruit cake, that would probably be moldy by now. Originally wedding celebrations featured a cake made of fruits and nuts, very different from the fancy white cakes we associate with weddings today! On my other site, Notes From the Melody Maker, I recently posted Martha Washington’s Great Cake recipe, along with a recipe for icing. The Great Cake recipe is more like a fruit cake and it makes about 11 pounds of cake from a single recipe! The advent of the mail order fruit cake in the 1930s really spelled the downfall of the fruit cake, as the mass produced and sometimes poorly made fruit cakes were dense, tasted bad, and were prolifically used as gifts in the United States since they were relatively inexpensive. Oops.

The secret to good fruit cake is the liberal application of spirits. Of course, you probably want to put some on the fruit cake too. The recipe below has a minimal amount of liquor in it, but I believe my sister made this fruit cake at least once and dribbled brandy over it once a week for something like six weeks. Which is why I am posting these recipes now! If you want to make good, moist fruit cake for the Christmas season, you will need to start in the first week of November or earlier.

Once the fruit cake is made, let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a rack. When completely cool, wrap it in foil, then dose it with about 1 tbsp of your choice whiskey (we use bourbon) once a week. When you have finished getting it drunk, you can wrap it in linen soaked in whiskey or wine, then stored in a tin surrounded by powdered sugar. The liquor and the powdered sugar keep away mold. And, don’t worry, the alcohol itself evaporates, leaving behind the taste and keeping the cake moist.

Fruit Cake

3 cups flour

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter

1 cup sour milk

1 nutmeg

1 tsp soda

2 eggs broken in

1/2 cup whiskey or wine

3 1/2 lbs raisins

1 lb citron

Steam 3 hr. Bake 1 hr in a moderate oven in a 2-qt pan.

4 thoughts on “Fruit Cake

  1. If this is the same as the one Mom uses then I have made it before. It’s been a long time. Mom made fruit cake last year at holiday time. I sort of remember using a brown paper bag cut up in some manner with this. But, liberal application of spirits is a must!


  2. The BEST Fruit Cake recipe in our family is the one that came from Grammie and originally was Grannie Marvel’s recipe. You can find that recipe in MY favorite recipe book, of which you have a copy. Be sure to add all the fruit listed and if you are going to make it, you should get your fruit as soon as you see it in the grocery or they very well might be sold out as it is very seasonal. The fruit keeps well unrefrigerated. And the bourbon helps keep it moist and sticky. Its not my favorite dessert but everyone else seems to like it.


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