Posted by: Erica Retrochef | December 18, 2008

Grandma’s Fruitcake

Finally got around to posting my grandmother’s recipe!

Fruit Cake (Old fashioned Dark)
l lb. mixed candied fruit
l lb. raisins
1/4 cup sherry, dark fruit juice whatever (I like to use port wine)
1/4 cup molasses
l cup butter
1/2 cups dark brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each mace and cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix fruit, molasses and wine. Let stand overnight.

Cream butter sugar & eggs. Add fruits & dry ingredients, mix. Fills 3 small loaf pans or 2 medium loaf pans or 2 1/2 qt. casserole. Line with foil and grease.

Bake at 275 for 2-1/2 hours with a dish of water in the oven. Cool and wrap in another layer of foil. Keeps for weeks, in fact improves with time.

A nice side effect of soaking 2 pounds of fruit in alcohol overnight: your kitchen smells delightfully fruity (and boozy) in the morning.

Raisins and Mixed Dried Fruit, soaking in wine and molasses

I learned (or rather re-learned) an important science lesson when creaming “butter sugar & eggs”. At first, I just dumped them all in a bowl together, then turned on the mixer. And waited. And waited. And waited. Not even my Magical Mixer was able to get these things to cream — instead, it was a soupy brown liquid with floating chunks of butter.

Butter is a fat. Fats are lipids. Lipids are hydrophobic, and will not mix with water. Eggs contain quite a lot of water — so I had dissolved the sugar in the eggs, and then tried to convince the butter to mix in, which it refused to do.

Luckily, I was able to strain the butter out…

Seperate hydrophobic lipids from watery eggs...

…which was an incredibly messy job, and then dump the butter back into the mixer for better creaming. Adding the egg-and-sugar back to the creamed butter veeeeeery slowly did the trick.

Aside from that moment of stupidity, it was quite simple to mix everything together. It tastes like a light gingerbread, and is definitely a holiday flavor. When two pounds of fruit are mixed in, it’s incredibly dense!

Little fruitcake loaves

I made it into cute little loaves and managed to give them all away without remembering to take a picture of the final baked product. Oops.

I’m not sure how to describe the flavor of these, because what comes to mind is “Grandma’s fruitcake”. I do recommend it, though. Take an opportunity to make a classic and remind friends and family that fruitcake isn’t necessarily disgusting (or nutty). Just make sure you try it this month, not December 2033.



  1. For fruitcake, that actually sounds delicious! What kind of candied fruit do you use? Do some combinations work better for this than others?

  2. baby? that butter soup looks like a boozy mess.

  3. How does it compare to Hartford Election Cake?

    The member of my family who bakes fruitcakes uses currants, and she has a mister full of brandy she uses to mist her baked cakes once a week or so for 6-8 weeks before consumption.

  4. The smell of the marinated fruit is indeed a wonderful thing to wake up to.

  5. @Rose — I used the generic mixed stuff you find in the grocery store baking section, plus some citron I had left over from Election Cake and some maraschino cherries (just because I’m a maraschino cherry addict). The best fruits were the ones that had a little more moisture (citron, raisins, cherries) as opposed to candied orange peel pieces or such, but the difference was pretty minor overall. I really like having a wide variety in there; since it is SO dense with fruit, it makes every bite a little bit different.

    @Historiann — I like it better in most ways. There’s no rise time (aside from the marinated fruit, it’s just mix ‘n’ bake), there is more fruit, and it’s a spicier cake so feels more appropriate for December. However, citron is one of my favorite dried fruits (for baking), so a cake full of it certainly has merit!

  6. We do this every Christmas, but we make two cakes in bundt pans. If you really want to soup them up, add a bit of bourbon to them and let them ripen. Add a good splash of bourbon every week for a month and they’ll get dark, even without molasses in the recipe.

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