Make Boiled Fruitcake

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Eng, Lynn, Donna and 2 others

The fruitcake has been around for centuries, and through time, countries all over the world have created their own versions of it. All these versions, including the boiled fruitcake, will have some common ingredients - dried or candied fruits, nuts, and spices - even if each country or region will endow this well-loved dessert with its own local flavor.

Many fruitcake makers will use spirits to give the cake a unique lift; this "buzz" mellows as the cake ages. A good number of cooks will douse the cake with brandy or rum prior to storing it, while some will soak the fruits in spirits before folding them into the batter. The use of spirits contributes to the length of time fruitcakes can be stored. As long as they are moistened regularly with spirits and kept in a cool, dry place, fruitcakes can be safely stored for years. For this reason, many couples choose to have fruitcakes as their wedding cake. They will purposely save a layer for future wedding anniversaries.

In Trinidad and Tobago, fruit cakes are often called black cakes, a name derived from their cakes' color; their version is made with a lot of raisins and dark rum. From Milan, another version has originated: The panettone, a light, cupola-shaped bread made with citrus peel and raisins. This is enjoyed during the Christmas season not only in Italy, but also in southeastern France, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Peru, Germany and Switzerland.

The Scottish Dundee cake, has been one of the most popular versions of the fruitcake. Most recipes for this cake call for sultanas, currants, almonds, citrus peel, and marmalade. However, the procedure for making Dundee cake is much like the one used for standard cakes, and it is quite different from the way boiled fruitcake is made.

If you love fruitcake, you will welcome the chance to try making the boiled fruit cake, another version of this rich delight. This rendition is called boiled fruitcake because the dried fruits are boiled in liquid to soften and plump them up before they are added to the cake batter. You will also be glad to know that it is one of the least messy ways to make a cake. Another positive feature of the boiled version is that the process seems to somehow prolong the cakes' shelf life. Here are two recipes to choose from; try them and see which one you want to make and keep for Christmas of 2014.

Simple Boiled Fruit Cake


  • 3 cups mixed dry fruit
  • 1½ cups nuts (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 oz. butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½-1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1½ cups cold water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup of brandy


  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line loaf pans with parchment paper.
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  2. 2
    In a good-sized saucepan, boil together water, baking soda, mixed spice, sugar, cinnamon (if using), and fruits for 20-25 minutes. Once the mixture reaches its boiling point, lower heat and allow mixture to simmer until the 20-25 minutes is up.
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  3. 3
    Remove from heat, and allow mixture to cool. Add vanilla if using. Meanwhile, sift together flour and baking powder.
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  4. 4
    When totally cool, add brandy, eggs, and the flour and baking powder mixture. Mix very well, and fold in nuts if you have decided to use them.
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  5. 5
    Pour into loaf pans lined with parchment paper
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  6. 6
    Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes at 160 degrees C.
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Great Grandma's Boiled Fruitcake

Here is an Irish recipe for boiled cake from way back in the 1920s. You will see that the process remains basically the same, which proves that the boiled fruitcake is one of those foods that families have kept in their repository of memories.


  • 3 cups sultanas (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon malt vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 2/3 cup hot water
  • 3½ cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

You will need:

  1. 1
    Combine hot water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, vinegar, butter, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan.
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  2. 2
    Allow mixture to come to a boil, and then simmer for 5-10 minutes.
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  3. 3
    Remove from heat, and let mixture cool fully. This will take about 2 hours.
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  4. 4
    Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Grease and line a 9 x 3 round baking tin.
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  5. 5
    Dissolve baking soda in a teaspoon of hot water. Add this to the boiled fruit and mix well. Add flour right after, and mix well.
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  6. 6
    Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes at 150 degrees C, but begin checking cake to see if it's done after it has been baking for an hour. Cover the cake with foil at this point to prevent the top from overcooking.
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  7. 7
    Cool cake in tin for 30 minutes, and finish cooling by turning out onto a wire rack, paper and all.
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  8. 8
    To store, douse with rum or brandy, wrap it with foil and keep it in an airtight tin.
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Tips and Serving Suggestions:

  • Boiled fruit cake is traditionally served with tea.
  • To prevent the sides and the top of your cake from drying out or getting overdone, tie several layers of parchment paper around your baking pan (on the outside!), allowing the paper to extend two to three inches above the rim of the tin. Once you have poured and patted down your mixture, cover the top of the cake loosely with a piece of parchment paper with slits.
  • After you have poured the mixture into the tin, use a metal spoon dipped in cold water to smooth the top of your cake. Make sure that the sides of the cake are slightly higher than the center. This will help equalize cooking time throughout the pan and prevent your cake from being dome shaped.
  • Sometimes fruitcakes will take more than two hours to cook. Do not be alarmed and do not turn up your oven temperature.
  • To decorate your cake, arrange fruits and nuts on top, and glaze when the cake is baked.

Questions and Answers

What is the shelf life of boiled fruitcake?

Can I freeze this? How long does it last without freezing?. I think it was caused by: I would like to spend an afternoon making a big batch of boiled fruitcake so I can give it away as holiday gifts.

You can freeze boiled fruit cake for up to 6 months. Be sure to wrap it with several layers of protection to avoid freeze burn. I have wrapped my fruit cake in aluminum foil and then a layer of newspaper to keep it fresh for 4 months.

Do you know how to make a Trinidad Boiled Fruitcake?

What kind of rum should be added to the Trinidad version?. I have tried: I have made the traditional boiled fruitcake.. I think it was caused by: I want to try this Caribbean variation of the boiled fruitcake to add a little spice to my life.

The Trinidad Fruit Cake is called Black Cake and what makes it different is the use of ground fruit instead of chopped fruit. There is a fantastic YouTube tutorial on [Black Cake] by minty in de kitchen.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Desserts

Recent edits by: Maria Quinney, Donna, Lynn

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