Dark Fruitcake

Fruit Cake at Christmas with fruits and nuts
Lauri Patterson / Getty Images
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 4 hrs 15 mins
Total: 4 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 40 servings

This recipe is over 100 years old. It takes two days to make, and three weeks to ripen, but well worth the time investment. If properly stored, the cake can be made as much as two months before Christmas.

- "The New Doubleday Cookbook" by Jean Anderson, Elaine Hanna (Doubleday)


  • For the Fruit Mixture:
  • 1 pound candied fruit (mixed and chopped, see note)
  • 2 ounces candied ginger (chopped fine)
  • 1/2 pound raisins (seedless)
  • 1/2 pound golden raisins (seedless)
  • 1/2 pound dried currants
  • 1/4 pound candied cherries (coarsely chopped, save 4 whole cherries for decoration, if you like)
  • 1/4 pound walnuts (or pecans, shelled, finely chopped, save 8 halves for decoration, if you like)
  • 2 lemons (rind only, finely grated)
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brandy (or orange juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • For the Cake Mixture:
  • 2 cups flour (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound butter (or margarine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place candied fruit, ginger, raisins, currants, cherries, walnuts or lemon rind, orange marmalade, lemon juice, brandy or orange juice, and vanilla and almond extracts in a large bowl; toss well, cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.

  3. Grease, then line the bottom of a 10-inch tube pan with wax paper. Preheat oven to 250 F.

  4. Sift together twice the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, allspice, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

  5. Cream butter until light, add sugar gradually, and continue creaming until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

  6. Add to dry ingredients, about 1 cup at a time, beating just to blend. (Note: Unless you have an extra-large mixing bowl, you will have to transfer batter to a large kettle at this point.) Mix in the fruit mixture.

  7. Spoon batter into the pan and, if you wish, decorate the top with halved candied cherries and walnuts. Place on center oven rack; half fill a roasting pan with water and place on the rack below. Bake uncovered, 4 1/4 hours until cake shrinks slightly from sides of the pan and a metal skewer inserted midway between the edge and the central tube comes out clean.

  8. Cool cake upright in pan on a wire rack for one hour. Carefully turn out, peel off the wax paper, turn right-side up and cool thoroughly.

  9. Wrap in brandy or rum soaked cheesecloth then in foil, and store in an airtight container about three weeks to ripen. If you wish to store it longer, sprinkle cheesecloth wrapping with 2 to 3 tablespoons brandy or rum at 3-week intervals.

  10. Enjoy.

Recipe Variation

In place of the 1 pound of mixed fruit, you may use the following mixture:

  • 1/2 pound candied citron (chopped fine)
  • 1/4 pound candied orange peel (chopped fine)
  • 1/4 pound candied lemon peel (chopped fine)

Recipe Source: by Jean Anderson, Elaine Hanna (Doubleday).
Reprinted with permission.