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Nona’s English Fruit Cake

    A Christmas Tradition in our house, the fruitcake was always made in June or July to ensure it was well-aged before serving. In the intervening time, it would be wrapped in cheesecloth and that tightly wrapped in plastic, and all held in an airtight cookie box.

    Regularly, Dad would open the package up, and load it with either port or brandy, as the spirit moved him. Then he would cut a piece for him and I to taste. The fruitcake had to be potent. He usually preferred a cake that was aged for over a year and sticky with port/brandy that had turned to syrup when it fully infused the dried fruit.

    I’ve made some adjustments to the recipe. The original mixed measurement type, so that has been clarified. More importantly though, the original recipe called for baking the cake for 3 hours at 350º, which is too hot for too long. This has been adjusted in the recipe below to a better formula.

    Nona didn’t like the English sound of the Greek word for “Grandmother” Yiaya, which sounded too much to her like “Ya YA” 🙂 she wanted to be called by the Italian word Nona, instead.

    Fruitcake mis en scene

    English Fruit Cake

    This is a decadently rich dark cake that is a flavour bomb when drenched in quality spirits or fortified wine.
    Servings: 6 1lb cakes


    • 1 lb Seedless Raisins
    • 1 lb Currants
    • 1/2 lb Sliced Candied Citron
    • 1/2 lb Orange & Lemon or Grapefruit Peel
    • 3/4 lb Dates
    • 1/2 cup Candied Cherries or Pineapple
    • 1 cup Butter
    • 6 Eggs
    • 1 cup Sugar
    • 2 cups Flour
    • 1/2 lb Almond Meal
    • 1 tsp Salt
    • 1 tsp Baking Soda
    • 2 tsp Cinnamon
    • 1 tsp Nutmeg
    • 1 tsp Allspice
    • 1/2 tsp Clove
    • 1/2 tsp Mace
    • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
    • 3/4 cup Sherry


    • Put raisins through the fruit chopper and cut the dates into fine strips with scissors. Mix with the other fruits and dredge with flour which has been sfited with spices and salt.
    • Cream butter and sugar, add the eggs and beat until very light. Stir in the fruit, flour mixture, eggs, lemon juice, and sherry in thirds until all are used.
    • Spoon the batter into pans that have been lined with parchment paper or greased kraft paper.
    • Put the cake in an oven that has been preheated to 350º. A and cookfter 30 minutes, turn that down to 300º for another 60 minutes.
    • Test by inserting a clean knife on a slight angle. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, cook it for another 15 minutes and test again.
    • After the cak is fully cooled, place it on a sheet of plastic wrap big enough to cover the entire cake.
    • Pour 2/3 cup of port over the cake (or divded across all of the cakes), wrap it tightly, then put the wrapped cake into a bag and wrap that tightly. Put that into a airtight container and store.
    • After another day or two, pour 2/3 cup of brandy onto the cake(s), wrap them carefully again and keep them in a non-tempting place until it is time to put on the marzipan "icing"
    • Flatten the marzipan by rolling it between two sheets of plastic. Otherwise, it will stick to the table.
    • "Paint" one side of the marzipan with jam or jelly and do the same with the cake. Let it dry for a few minutes to get sticky and then apply the marzipan to the cake, pressing it down to help it adhere.


    This recipe yields a 6lb cake weighed after baking (or 6 x 1lb cakes).
    Like my father before me, I alternate between port (or ice wine) and brandy. Port for flavour, brandy for potency.
    You can find a marzipan recipe here.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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