Baked dark fruitcake

Dark Fruitcake and Christmas Spirit

A delicious recipe for Dark Fruitcake (or Christmas Cake), made with candied fruit, pecans and basted in brandy.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I’m really once again not quite ready for that!

The Christmas trees are in stock at our local grocery stores, and the plazas in our little town are beginning to get crowded during the day. I am looking forward to seeing any of our children and their significant others whenever we will be so blessed, and I hope that it will be a fun but relaxing Christmas season this year.

Christmas cookies. Thank you for the cookies!  We received these from our son's girlfriend last year.
Christmas cookies. Thank you for the cookies! We received these from our son’s girlfriend last year.

This year, I am hoping to simplify our Christmas purchases, but that remains to be seen. I will not visit the big stores for Black Friday, but I may visit our local small businesses and shop online for the rest. The house is in good shape for our young guests and I have been polishing the silver, and organizing the good china and linens.

Mikasa Christmas ad.
Shop Mikasa – order by Dec 13 for Standard Delivery

Christmas Present Reminder

I am reminding myself once again, as I fret about potential Christmas purchases, that they don’t have to be perfect – That we give presents at Christmas to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men. The Wise Men travelled a great distance to give Jesus gifts to show respect and love to their newborn King. Now I have no religious education, but I’m trying to say that these gifts were meant to show love and honour, and so as long as we choose our gifts with love and care within our means – and try our best, we should not wear ourselves out with stress about choosing the exact right gift. The fun should be in the giving and receiving of gifts no matter what they are, and just being with whoever we are lucky enough to be with, enjoying the day if we can.

Christmas Cake Recipe Gift

A few years ago my wonderful sister in law shared my late mother in law’s recipe for Dark Fruit Cake. I really appreciate this, and enjoy making, eating and proudly sharing this fruitcake. This recipe was actually part of one of the best Christmas gifts we’ve received, a bunch of family recipes!

Christmas presents - Dark Fruitcake Recipe
Photo by Oleg Zaicev on

Family Fruitcake Tradition

This Fruit Cake recipe gives me a way to make something that honours and remembers someone that I and my children didn’t have the privilege of knowing, and is now an important tradition for my family. I am making fruitcake again today, even though I should have made it back in August, faithfully, basting it with brandy and then optionally – freezing it to enjoy at Christmas. I don’t mind sipping a bit of brandy along the way.

I hope that my mother in law would be proud to see her recipe posted, and I hope I get to share it with my family!

Dark Fruit Cake – Requirements

This recipe for Dark Fruit Cake is not difficult to prepare, but it requires loads of fruit (4 pounds!!) cheesecloth, brandy and 4 and a half hours of time in your oven – so today is a great day, because I have nowhere to go and it’s cold outside. The fruit must be soaked overnight in brandy and grape juice before you make the cake – so be prepared. Making the cake is relatively easy – but it is a two day affair!

Every year I edit this recipe as I follow it myself and update the PRINTABLE RECIPE CARD AT THE END OF THIS POST!


2 lb raisins

(The original recipe called for white and dark raisins but I use different types of raisins available in my local market to total 2 pounds and provide a variety of texture and appearance- I use Thompson, Golden and Sultana)

2 lb. mixed fruit

(This is generally a mixture of candied mixed fruit peel and candied red and green cherries. Every year what I find in store varies – one year there was no candied fruit peel and I just used cherries. My husband says when he was growing up he used to pick the cherries out of the mixture that was marinating – to his mother’s distress. I watched as our youngest came boy and grabbed a few cherries from the pot – like father, like son – I think his Grandmother would smile.)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

(Other nuts can be substituted – but these work well)

1/2 cup Concord grape jelly

(The Purple Concord Grape Jelly – and the Concord Grape Juice help the fruitcake darken!)

750 ml each Concord grape juice and brandy (which will combined)

(I used of 2 cups of grape juice and 2 cups of Brandy to soak the fruit initially, and then I saved the rest of the juice and brandy (from 750ml bottles) for soaking the fruitcake after the baking – I may have sipped a bit though.

I noticed that is difficult to find Concord Grape Juice in the grocery stores near me – Good old fashioned Welch’s Grape Juice was nowhere to be found – but there were lots of juices labelled Cranberry Grape and Apple or Concord Grape 100% Juice – but when I read the label they were mixed juices! The depth of flavour of pure Concord Grape Juice is what you want – but substitutes will work!)

1 cup butter

(at room temperature – This year I am making the fruitcakes dairy free – so I have substituted Becel Vegan Butter sticks – they worked just as well as butter)

6 eggs (well beaten)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour*

(1/2 cup will be reserved and used to toss with the pecans – but will be added back to the cake mix eventually)

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice


The evening prior to making the fruit cake, place the raisins and fruit in a large bowl and cover with brandy and grape juice. Place in the refrigerator overnight and stir every so often to distribute the liquid.

(I could install a refrigerator alarm – to catch the men in our house dipping into the cherries whenever the fridge is opened – but a few missing pieces of fruit won’t matter)

Mixed fruit marinating in brandy and grape juice
Mixed fruit marinating in brandy and grape juice

*Use 1/2 cup of flour to toss and coat pecans – set aside

1/2 cup chopped pecans in 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans in 1/2 cup flour

Mix the dry ingredients (the remaining flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice – NOT the sugar) in a separate bowl and reserve.

Cream room temperature butter with an electric mixer until light. Add sugar & cream well, add jelly and eggs. Mix well.

Now I’m not sure why, but every time I turn the electric beaters on I find Max suddenly under my feet. I don’t think it’s the brandy.

Max the goldendoodle appears in the kitchen every time the electric mixer turns on - dark fruitcake recipe
Max appears to be sleeping but suddenly appears whenever the electric beaters turn on
Butter, sugar, grape jelly and eggs beaten - dark fruitcake recipe
Butter, sugar, grape jelly and six eggs – beaten

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Place a small pan of water into oven to preheat and create steam when the cake is baking. Line loaf pans with foil and spray with non-stick coating.

Line pans with foil and spray with non-stick
Line pans with foil and apply non-stick spray

Add dry ingredients 1/3 at a time, to wet ingredients – stirring until well mixed. Then add pecan – flour mixture. Strain marinade from fruit – reserve the liquid for basting. Stir strained fruit into cake mixture.

Pack well into non-stick sprayed foil lined tins – bake at 275 degrees F for 4 1/2 hours.

Dark fruitcake batter in prepared pan
Dark fruitcake batter in prepared pan

This recipe is for one 6 lb. cake., but I usually make 4 small loaf tin sized cakes.

Every hour or so during the baking process – rotate the tins to ensure that the cakes are evenly baked. My standard sized 30 inch oven can fit 3 tins side to side – and turned sideways – so I move the around.

Check that the pot or pan of water in the oven (I place it on the bottom) is still full of water periodically and refill if necessary.

baked fruitcake in foil lined tin
Baked Fruitcake in foil lined tin

After 4 1/2 hours remove cakes from oven. Let cool and remove from baking tins and foil.

Wrap in Cheesecloth and Baste with remaining liquid

Wrap in cheesecloth and baste with grape juice and brandy. (Baste cloth also) Baste and turn cakes over a few times per day, and place in refrigerator for a few days. store in freezer or refrigerator. Sometimes we make this in the summertime and then freeze, but this week we will be wrapping the fruitcakes, and basting them liberally daily – placing the cakes in the refrigerator until Christmas Day.

Baked dark fruitcake
Baked dark fruitcake
dark fruitcake wrapped in cheesecloth, basted in brandy and grape juice and refrigerated
Fruitcake wrapped in cheesecloth, basted in brandy and grape juice and refrigerated

I will try not to sip any more of the brandy in the meantime.

Sip brandy while preparing dark fruitcake recipe
Photo by Markus Winkler on

Below is a printable recipe card from RecipesGenerator. Please give it a try!

Dark Fruitcake Recipe Card:

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13 thoughts on “Dark Fruitcake and Christmas Spirit

  1. Our family has a tradition that everyone has to take a turn stirring the batter to bring good luck to the family in the coming year. This coming year, we need all the good luck we can find. Merry Christmas

    1. My husband was saying that his family had the same tradition with stirring the Yorkshire Pudding batter, so perhaps we will have to revive this tradition with our Christmas cake. Thank you for sharing your tradition.

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