This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (2024)

  • Cakes
  • Christmas Desserts
  • Date
  • Walnuts

This classic fruitcake is a welcome addition to the holiday table.


Elise Bauer

This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (1)

Elise Bauer

Elise founded Simply Recipes in 2003 and led the site until 2019. She has an MA in Food Research from Stanford University.

Learn about Simply Recipes'Editorial Process

Updated November 15, 2023

This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (2)

28 ratings

In This Recipe

Flex Your Holiday Baking Muscle with These 16 Knockout RecipesFEATURED IN:

Are you a fruitcake lover? Though this traditional holiday cake is often maligned (I guess some people don't like candied fruit?), it's wonderful when well prepared.

This fruitcake is our family's favorite, packed with dates, walnuts, raisins, and glazed cherries. Think raisin bread on steroids. The recipe comes from the wife of a family friend, Patricia, who for years sent us a loaf every Christmas.

We usually have to make at least two loaves—one to eat right away, because we just can't wait, and the other to sprinkle with brandy and save for Christmas day. These loaves also make terrific gifts.

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How To Make Fruitcake

Fruitcake is really just like any other quick bread or loaf cake, only with a lot more fruit and nuts added. You make a simple cake batter, stir in the fruits and nuts, and bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The resulting cake is dense and looks like a beautiful mosaic when sliced, with fruits and nuts in every bite.

You can sprinkle the cake with liquor (we like brandy), or leave it alcohol-free. The liquor will make the fruitcake more moist, and will help it last longer.

Tips for the Best Fruitcake

  • Toss the fruits and nuts in flour before mixing them into the batter. This will help keep them evenly distributed throughout the cake during baking.
  • Place a pan of water in the oven alongside the fruitcake. This makes for more even, gentle cooking.
  • It's best to slice this fruitcake with a serrated knife, such as a bread knife.

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How Long Does Fruitcake Last?

Fruitcake lasts longer than most other cakes because it is filled with nuts and candied fruit. It will last even longer if you sprinkle it with a spirit like brandy. Just keep it on the counter, tightly wrapped.

  • Without brandy, the cake will last tightly wrapped a week or more.
  • With brandy, the cake can last a month or more.

How To Store and Freeze Fruitcake

Cool the fruitcake completely, poke a few holes with a skewer in the top of the cake and sprinkle it with brandy, if desired. Wrap the loaf tightly with aluminum foil, and store it on the counter.

To freeze, wrap the loaf in plastic and then in aluminum foil. Then, freeze for up to 3 months.

Fruit Cake Variations Suggested by Readers

  • Includes some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger.
  • Use almonds or leave out the nuts completely.
  • Use dark brown sugar for a darker finish.
  • Add whiskey instead of brandy.
  • Soak the dry fruits in rum or brandy overnight.

How To Cure Fruitcake With Alcohol

You can age your fruitcake using alcohol as a preservative for about 1 to 3 months. Take about a yard of cheesecloth and soak it in brandy, whisky, bourbon, rum or some other liquor. Then wrap it around your cooked (completely cooled) fruitcake before wrapping it in plastic. Re-soak the cheesecloth about once a month for 6 weeks to 3 months (however long you'd like to age your fruitcake).

Alternately, brush your fruitcake with the liquor of your choice before wrapping it tightly in plastic film. Brush it with more alcohol every few days for the first 2 months of aging.

Store in a cool dry place while curing the fruitcake. Once it's been aged properly, you can eat it right away or refrigerate it for months, even years. When properly cured, the alcohol prevents bacteria from growing.

Aged fruitcake can be frozen, but it oddly lasts longer in the refrigerator once cured.

More Festive Holiday Treats

  • How to Make a Gingerbread House
  • Gingerbread Cookies
  • Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
  • Candy Cane Cookies
  • Panettone

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

The Best Holiday Fruitcake

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time105 mins

Total Time2 hrs

Servings12to 16 servings

Yield1 loaf

It's best to slice this fruitcake with a serrated knife, such as a bread knife.

We highly recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh the flour. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, measure the flour by fluffing the flour in its container, spooning the flour into the measuring cup, and leveling it off with a flat edge like the back of a table knife.


  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup (236ml) full fat sour cream

  • 2 cups (280g) raisins

  • 1 cup (130g) chopped dates

  • 1/2 cup (75g) chopped glazed cherries(can sub dried sweetened cranberries)

  • 1 cup (100g) chopped walnuts

  • 2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour, divided

  • 8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup (200g) sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60ml) brandy, optional


  1. Preheat the oven and prepare the pan:

    Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with greased parchment or brown baking paper. Cut the paper to fit the pan.

    Place one piece to run the length of the pan and stand up above the rim about an inch. Place the other piece or pieces to cover the other sides. When the cake comes out of the oven, you can easily remove it by holding the sides of the paper and lifting the cake out of the pan.

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (5)

  2. Combine the sour cream and baking soda:

    In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and sour cream. Set aside.

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (6)

  3. Toss the fruits and nuts with flour:

    Combine the raisins, dates, cherries, and nuts with 1/4 cup (30g) of the flour. Toss to coat the fruit and nuts completely in flour. Set aside.

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (7)

  4. Make the fruitcake batter:

    Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg, then the orange zest, then the sour cream/baking soda mix.

    Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups (230g) flour and the salt and mix together. Pour the fruit and nut mixture into the batter and mix well to distribute the fruit and nuts evenly.

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (8)

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (9)

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (10)

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (11)

  5. Bake the fruitcake:

    Scoop the batter into a prepared 5 x 9-inch loaf pan, and press down to even the surface.

    Place the pan into the preheated oven. Place a separate pan of water in the oven either on a rack underneath the fruitcake or beside it. (The water make for a more even, gentler cooking.)

    Bake at 325°F (160°C) for approximately 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours, or until the internal temperature is between 205°F and 209°F, and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. The water may need to be replenished during baking, if it evaporates.

    If the top of the fruitcake is getting too browned as it bakes, tent it with some foil.

    Simple Tip!

    If using an instant-read thermometer, make sure you insert the probe into the center of the fruitcake at least 2 inches, but no deeper than 3 inches. This will give you the most accurate reading.

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (12)

    This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (13)

  6. Cool on a rack, then, sprinkle with brandy:

    Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then, using the edges of the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan, move to a rack to cool completely.

    If you want, poke a few holes with a skewer over the top of the cake and sprinkle on a few ounces of brandy. This will make the fruitcake more moist and will help it last longer.

    Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum to store on the countertop.

    Do you have a family fruitcake tip to share? Did you love the recipe? Tell us all about in the comments!

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
13g Fat
50g Carbs
4g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12to 16
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g17%
Saturated Fat 5g27%
Cholesterol 35mg12%
Sodium 223mg10%
Total Carbohydrate 50g18%
Dietary Fiber 2g9%
Total Sugars 32g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 1mg6%
Calcium 38mg3%
Iron 1mg8%
Potassium 255mg5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.

This Fruitcake Recipe Is a Food Blogger's Family Heirloom (2024)


Why was fruitcake outlawed? ›

Fruitcakes were so rich, they were considered sinful and were outlawed in Europe in the early 18th century. Restrictions eased later in the century.

What is the story of fruitcake? ›

A regal history of fruitcake

A forerunner of the fruitcake actually fueled Ancient Roman warriors who carried a mixture of barley, pomegranate seeds, nuts, and raisins mixed with honeyed wine. The cakes — called satura — sustained them through their long marches to the furthest corners of the empire.

Why is fruit cake so expensive? ›

Because of supply chain issues, some of the ingredients are much harder to get and more expensive,” he said. But he says, those who love the historically named plum cake are still willing to fork out more dough to keep up with their holiday traditions.

What is the oldest fruitcake? ›

Fidelia Ford

The fruitcake in question was baked in Tec*mseh, MI by the loving matriarch of the Ford family, Fidelia, back in 1878.

Does anyone still eat fruitcake? ›

Nowadays fruitcakes are a holiday delicacy still prized for their long-lasting freshness.

Why does fruit cake have a bad reputation? ›

It's a fruitcake, and it has garnered a reputation for being not only the worst holiday dessert but the worst dessert, period. Part of the reason this dense, often dry cake has the reputation it does is due to that no one finds that dried fruit in the middle to be appealing.

Does fruitcake go bad? ›

Fruitcake is no ordinary cake. It can stay fresh and edible for months after baking. What typically makes fruitcake last so long is its super dense texture. This texture prevents, let's say, less than appetizing things from setting up camp in the cake's crevices.

How old was the fruitcake lady when she died? ›

Marie Rudisill died in Hudson, Florida, on November 3, 2006, at the age of 95, just before the publication date of her last book, Ask the Fruitcake Lady: Everything You Would Already Know If You Had Any Sense, on November 7.

How long should fruitcake be aged? ›

Fruitcake aficionados will tell you that the best fruit cakes are matured – or “seasoned” in fruitcake lingo – for at least three months before they are cut. Seasoning not only improves the flavor of the fruitcake, but it makes it easier to slice.

What is the fruitcake scandal? ›

Jenkins, a low-level employee at the city's famed fruitcake company, the Collin Street Bakery, embezzled $17 million from 2004 to 2013, spending the money on cars, trips, watches, and jewelry—all so that he could keep up appearances with the upper crust of his town of 24,000.

Why is fruitcake eaten at Christmas? ›

Why Do We Serve Fruit Cake for Christmas? In the 1700s and 1800s, the ingredients required to make fruit cake were prohibitively expensive. Therefore, fruit cake was considered an indulgence served only during special occasions like weddings and holidays.

Can fruitcake last 25 years? ›

It lasts longer than you think

According to Mental Floss, fruitcake has quite the shelf life. The tasty, holiday treat can age 25 years and still be enjoyed, as long as it's stored in an airtight container.

How do you store Grandma's fruitcake? ›

Grandma's Fruitcake slices best when chilled. We recommend that you refrigerate your cake overnight or freeze it for a few hours before slicing with a Non Serrated Knife. Our fruitcakes have a 9 month shelf life. Our breakfast items and liqueur cakes are best warmed up before serving.

How long will fruitcake last unrefrigerated? ›

After opening your tin and unwrapping your fruitcake from its cellophane packaging, it can stay fresh at room temperature for up to four weeks. Make sure to place your cake in an airtight container in between servings.

What is the derogatory meaning of fruitcake? ›

Slang. a crazy or eccentric person; nut.

Was fruitcake once outlawed? ›

In The Early 1700s, Fruitcakes Were Outlawed In Europe

Over the centuries, people added increasingly sweeter ingredients to their fruitcakes until the cakes became decadence incarnate, which was morally wrong and thus made illegal.

Who banned fruitcake? ›

By the early 18th century the church in Europe banned the treat except for special occasions such as weddings and christenings because it was "sinfully rich." That ecclesiastical disapproval notwithstanding, by the end of the 18th century bans were repealed and fruitcake fans could indulge.


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