This Old Fashioned Fruitcake Recipe is an old family recipe and a holiday classic. Candied fruit and crunchy nuts fill this brandy infused cake that is sure to become a Christmas tradition at your house too!
When is the last time you got to pour booze on bread? Probably not since breakfast, at least. Well, dust off that bottle of brandy, because the holidays are coming! Whatever you don't swig down to tolerate the in-laws you will want to save to paint your freshly baked holiday fruitcake!
What is it?
This old-fashioned fruitcake recipe has been in my family for years and has been a Christmas time tradition as long as I can remember. My mother passed it on to me, and her mother to her. I'm pretty sure my grandma got it from baby Jesus. This dense cake is essentially a sweetened bread loaf loaded with spices and sweets, then marinated for weeks with liquor. It is a must-try for any fruitcake lover.
Hailing from Wisconsin, my family makes our holiday fruitcake with brandy as the primary moisturizer. In my mind, brandy and fruitcake have always gone together like Santa and a bowl full of jelly. I've seen other Christmas cake recipes with rum, or even no booze at all, but I'm fairly certain fruitcake without booze is sacrilegious.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- White sugar - Brown sugar can be substituted.
- Large Eggs
- All purpose flour
- Ground nutmeg
- Ground cinnamon
- Brandy - Brandy is my preferred liquor, but dark rum would be my second choice followed by whiskey.
- Chopped nuts - I recommend pecans or walnuts.
- Dark Raisins - Golden raisins are a great substitute, but other dried fruits can also be used.
- Candied pineapple - You can substitute other candied fruit.
- Candied cherries
Note: My mother says you can use whatever candied fruit you prefer. Grocery stores often sell bags of mixed candied fruit that is perfect for this recipe. She likes purchasing them on on clearance after the holidays to stock up for next year. You can even use sweetened dried fruit if needed, but candied is best.
How to Make It
My family always made these fruitcakes in bulk to give away as presents for the holidays, because who doesn't want to find baked goods in their stockings? Assuming your kids would rather have a PS4 than a booze-infused cake, I scaled the original recipe down for the average home cook. My recipe yields enough batter for two 8" loaf cakes, rather than eight. Feel free to scale the recipe up as desired.
I used 8" aluminum foil loaf pans for this recipe. Their sizing is ideal, plus they allow you to easily give away extra fruitcakes to friends without worrying about losing a good bread pan.
To begin, cream your butter in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, then add the sugar a bit at a time and cream together with the butter until everything is smooth. Next, beat the eggs into the butter mixture one at a time.
Next, ¾ cup flour can be sifted into the batter along with all spices. Follow this by slowly adding two tablespoons of brandy to the flour mixture. The fruits and nuts are the remaining dry ingredients to add to the fruit cake batter. They should be dredged in the remaining ¼ cup of flour, then stirred into the batter with a wooden spoon.
Pour your cake mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper then bake for ninety minutes at 300 degrees. Then remove your homemade fruitcake from the oven and baste the top of the cake with 2 more tablespoons of brandy and then store in a cool dark place.
How to Store Fruitcake
A true old fashioned fruitcake is marinated in brandy for about a month to improve the flavor as the cake ages. My mother recommends storing the fruitcake in an airtight container or plastic wrap in the refrigerator and basting it in brandy weekly until Christmas. However, if you are short on time, you can enjoy your fruitcake whenever you are ready to consume it. Fruitcakes can also be frozen in double freezer bags, however, do not do so until after a month of basting since the frozen cake won't soak up any brandy.
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Old Fashioned Fruitcake recipe
- Bread loaf pan
- Parchment paper
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup flour (divided)
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup brandy (divided)
- 1 cup chopped nuts (I recommend pecans)
- 1 cup raisins
- ½ cup candied pineapple (cut in small pieces)
- 8 ounces dates (chopped small)
- ½ cup candied cherries
- Cream butter in a large bowl then add sugar gradually and cream until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
- Sift ¾ cup flour with spices. Add alternately with 2 tablespoon brandy to creamed mixture.
- Dredge fruit and nuts with remaining flour. Add floured fruit to batter, mix well.
- Pour batter into a pan lined with waxed paper.
- Bake at 300⁰ for 90 minutes. The fruitcake is done when the top is golden brown and the interior is moist but no longer doughy.
- Remove from oven and baste with remaining 2 tablespoons brandy and let cool on a wire rack.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and baste weekly with brandy for a month.
This recipe was originally published on November 29, 2017, on FoxValleyFoodie.com.
what would be a substitute for brandy for kids to eat cake?
Fox Valley Foodie
You could use Brandy extract. You will likely have to dilute it with 4 parts water or it will be too concentrated.
I will make this today. I have never liked any fruitcake except for my mom’s. She has passed but this sounds the closest to what she did. I remember she had cheesecloth or something similar wrapped around her loaves when she basted them with whiskey or something. I was little, and we lived in Kentucky. I don’t remember exactly what she used. Thank you for posting your recipe!
Very easy to put together! 🙂 Thank you for posting your family recipe. My first one is baking right now. I plan to make quite a few of these, this year.
Thanks I would like to try it if it’s alright with you. I’ve tried my luck before with not having any luck. I love fruitcake but I have been unable to find one that I liked. I will let you know how mine turns out!
I love fruitcake. Have made them for years. My fruitcake recipe book is in storage, so am going to use yours. Thank you so much
Do you know any one that'll ship me a old fashion fruitell cake?
Fox Valley Foodie
Yes, you can order them off Amazon.com. Just search for "fruitcake" on their website.
Very similar to my family fruit cake, also brandy soaked. My grand mother and mother soaked a piece of cheesecloth with brandy and wrapped it around the fruitcake, followed my wax paper, then alum foil and finally a Christmas towel! Ours also has dried figs, my most favorite of dried fruits!
Origin was my German ancestors.
Fox Valley Foodie
Figs would be a great addition. That is the great thing about fruitcakes, they are quite versatile for customization!