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Christmas Cake

Some things take time and Christmas cake is one of those things.
I remember my mom gathering all the ingredients for Christmas cake and stirring together a big bowl of jewel like glazed fruits. This usually took place during October. Once baked and well wrapped the little cakes were put into a cool place until the Christmas season. Mom would sometimes wrap up a cake in brown paper, tie it with a ribbon and give it as a gift.
This recipe has no nuts in it and there is no brandy in the cake, but there is a step in the directions that calls for dipping cheesecloth in apricot brandy and then wrapping each cake it the cheesecloth. The brandy helps to preserve the cake, but you can omit this step.
You still have time to bake Christmas cake.

  • 2 3/4 pounds raisins (approx. 7 cups)
  • 2 pounds glazed cherries, cut in half (I like to use the mixed red and green ones)
  • 2 3/4 pounds glazed mixed fruit
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2  cups flour
  1. In a large bowl stir together all fruit.
  2. Drizzle pineapple juice over fruit.
  3. Add flour and stir to dredge the fruit. 
  4. Set mixture aside.
  • 2 1/2 cups margarine, room temperature
  • 1 cup golden corn syrup
  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 12 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  1. Cream margarine. Add syrup and jam and mix well.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together. 
  4. Mix into creamed mixture.
  5. Pour creamed mixture over fruit and stir with a wooden spoon until fruit is well incorporated into the creamed batter. 
Preparing pans:
  1. As you can see in the photo I am using very old cake pans. They are thin with a removable bottom. You can use any pans or even soup tins, but you do need to still follow the instructions for lining pans. 
  2. Line pans with 3 layers of brown paper. I cut clean brown bags for this.
  3. Next cut parchment paper and line the whole pan. The cake will bake on the parchment. The brown paper helps to prevent burning and makes for even baking.  
  4. Divide the batter between the pans. Level with the back of a spatula. 
  5. Heat oven to 275ºF. Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of oven. This is very important as it helps to keep the cake moist. 
  6. Place cakes on middle rack in oven. Bake for 5 hours. 
  7. After 2 hours in the oven, lay a piece of brown paper, or parchment paper with tin foil over it to prevent over browning. 
  8. Add more water to water pan if it dries out during baking.
  9. Once baked, cool cakes in pans.
  10. When totally cool, remove cakes from pans. Remove brown paper and parchment.
  11. Cut each cake into 4.
  12. Optional step: cut a sheet of cheese cloth into pieces that will wrap around each cake. Pour enough apricot brandy over the pieces of cheese cloth and let soak. Wrap each piece of cake in a single layer of brandy dipped cheese cloth. Wrap as you would a gift. 
  13. Now wrap each cake in saran wrap. If you have used the cheese cloth wrap saran right over it. If not just wrap cake. Now wrap all cakes once more in saran.
  14. After double wrapping in saran, wrap each cake in foil. 
  15. Store in a container (I used cookie tins, but you could use a box or Tupperware) Place in a cool place where temperature stays even, or in the refrigerator. 
  16. Allow cake to 'rest' for at least 6-8 weeks. After this freeze or keep in refrigerator. 

Cakes wrapped in cheesecloth. 


  1. How many pans of what size does this make?

    1. The pans I used were 8" square x 4" deep. Once batter was put into pans it filled to about 1" from the top. This recipe filled 2 pans that size.

  2. What a lovely tradition and they look wonderful:)

  3. Thank you for this! Indeed a labor of love. I've never made fruitcake before but the recipe is so well written I may have to try it this year.

  4. I would love this! My mother used to make fruitcake many years ago. It was always a big deal! I wish I could have some of hers again!


  5. In my husband's family, this is called fruitcake. He always makes a large one for us and a small one for my mother, and it is his tradition to bake the cakes at Thanksgiving. Between then and Christmas, he spreads brandy on the top of the cake a couple of times a week - delicious!

  6. Brown paper packages, tied up with string!! So beautiful... I have my mom's dark and light fruit cake recipes and haven't made this for years. These recipes were also used for traditional wedding cake. Your recipe sounds and looks absolutely delish!

  7. So I confess to being a doggone city girl but... how can this cake possibly stay fresh and not mold? I know this is how fruitcake just IS, but I am still needing an explanation. My father-in-law used to make an icebox fruit cake, tasted almost like (raw) cake batter, a solid, chewy, cold, very dense fruitcake, so amazing. But it went into the freezer, so I understood how it lasted. Please forgive my ignorance for asking but...???

    1. Hi Carol. Great question and one I always think about when I eat fruit cake. We don’t claim to have all the answers and don’t give advice on food safety here on the blog, but we do post recipes and methods that have been tried and true in our own kitchens, or that of our moms or grandmothers. Definitely these cakes need to be well wrapped and in a cool dry place. Dried fruits have little moisture content, and that certainly helps to preserve for longer periods of time. I will be adding a note to this recipe about preserving. Suggesting storing in the refrigerator or even freezer to insure food safety. Recipes with alcohol would last much longer I think, but this one is just wrapped in the soaked cheesecloth. Food safety is always first and foremost for us all. I’ve read that some people eat the same fruit cake for several years. That’s not something I’d do unless it had been frozen for the whole time. Happy baking.

  8. Love this Kath! I too remember Mom baking this Christmas cake in fall and then us enjoying it around the Christmas holidays! Great pics! Rhoda

  9. Would the baking time be less in smaller pans such as 9x5x2 1/2 ?

    1. I have to be honest that I've not baked this cake in other size pans. Your pan size is a lot shallower so that would make sense. I hope it works out. Maybe google a few other recipes that suggest different pan sizes for this type of cake. That will give you an indication.

    2. Thanks for your reply. i will test them with a skewer after a few hours.

    3. The cakes were done in 4 hours. Before hiding them away in their tightly wrapped packages we taste tested a teensy sliver and the flavour was awesome. Did substitute rum for the pineapple juice 😉


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