Traditional British Rich Fruitcake

Traditional British fruitcake on a stand and on a plate

The Spruce

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Soaking Time:: 12 hrs
Total: 15 hrs
Servings: 10 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
454 Calories
24g Fat
52g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 454
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 124mg 41%
Sodium 408mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 9g
Calcium 124mg 10%
*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.)

Those who think fruitcake is dry, hard, and tasteless have never tried this Yorkshire recipe for a rich British-style fruitcake. It is chock-full of dried fruit that is soaked in tea overnight and flavored with treacle, brandy, nutmeg, and lemon juice. The ground almonds, glacé cherries, and candied peel contribute even more levels of taste and wonderful texture. You can use a prepared dried fruit mixture available in most supermarkets, or blend your own to create a customized cake, balancing the mixture to your preferences. Be warned, though, one slice of this dark fruitcake will never be enough.

The success of this delicious, moist cake lies in soaking the dried mixed fruits in strong dark tea the evening before making it; the tea adds a subtle depth of flavor to the cake. Therefore, be sure to plan ahead because you don't want to skip this step.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound/450 grams mixed dried fruit
  • 10 ounces/300 milligrams strong black tea (cold)
  • 5 1/2 ounces/150 grams butter (slightly softened)
  • 5 1/2 ounces/150 grams dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 medium-sized eggs
  • 8 ounces/225 grams all-purpose or plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon dark treacle (cane molasses)
  • 3 ounces/100 milliliters brandy (or sherry)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 ounces/110 grams ground almonds
  • 8 ounces/ 225 grams glacé cherries (halved)
  • 8 ounces/225 grams candied peel (chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    All of the ingredients to make a traditional British fruitcake
    The Spruce
  2. The day before baking, place the dried fruits in a large bowl; add the tea and stir well. Cover and leave overnight.

    Prepping the dried fruits in tea
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  3. Preheat the oven to 325 F/170 C/Gas Mark 3. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with greaseproof paper or parchment paper.

    Pan lined with parchment paper
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  4. Place the butter and sugar in a large baking bowl.

    Combined butter and sugar
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  5. Using an electric hand whisk or fork, cream the butter into the sugar until the mixture is light, smooth, and creamy.

    The butter has been creamed into the sugar
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  6. Beat 1 egg into the creamed butter, then beat in 1/4 of the flour. Repeat until all the eggs and flour are used up. Add the treacle, brandy or sherry, nutmeg, and lemon juice to the cake mixture, and stir gently using a spoon or spatula. Stir in the baking powder.

    Mixing the batter with a wooden spoon
     The Spruce
  7. Drain the dried fruits and place them in a bowl along with the ground almonds, glacé cherries, and candied peel. Stir well, then add to the cake mixture, stirring gently until all the fruits are incorporated into the mixture. Stir gently so as not to "flatten" the cake mixture.

    The batter with ground almonds, glacé cherries, and candied peel
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  8. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and gently level the surface.

    Batter is added to an 8-inch round cake pan
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  9. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until dark golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

    Traditional British fruitcake out of the oven
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  10. Let cool on a rack for about 40 minutes, then remove from the cake pan and place on the rack to cool completely.

  11. Slice, serve, and enjoy.

Do I Need to Age a Fruitcake?

Aging a fruitcake extends the life of the cake exponentially. If you don't plan on eating the cake right away, it is better to age it than put it in the freezer. To age the fruitcake, either brush the cooled cake with brandy (or sherry, rum, or whiskey) or soak cheesecloth in the liquor and wrap around the cake. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store in a cool, dark place. Resoak the cheesecloth once a week and store for six weeks or up to three months, and if the cake was brushed with the brandy, reapply every few days for the first two months of storage.

Tips

  • To assure the best-tasting fruitcake, make sure all of your ingredients are of good quality and as fresh as possible.
  • Because this cake is so dense, it will take longer to cool than other types of cake.

The Origin of the Fruitcake

Although the fruitcake has become known as a traditional English Christmas dessert, the idea of this dense, fruit-studded confection actually originated in Roman times as a mixture of pomegranate seeds, raisins, pine nuts, barley mash, and honeyed wine. The fruitcake that we know today goes all the way back to the Middle Ages; it was discovered that sugar helped preserve fruit, so the mixture was left overnight and then added to a cake batter. After a brief outlawing of the cake in Continental Europe in the 18th century because it was "sinfully rich," the cake gained even more popularity and became part of unusual traditions, like putting a slice under the pillow of unmarried wedding guests so they would dream of their future spouse.

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