Secrets for Perfect Fruitcake


Secrets of Making a Perfect Fruitcake

From the cookbook called A World of Baking by Dolores Casella


Perfect Fruitcake


On the quest to make the perfect fruitcake? Your homemade fruitcake should be made well in advance of the time that they will be used.  One month of storage is a necessity.  Two, three, or even four months is not too long a time if the storage facilities are cool and dry.

Fruitcakes freeze very well.  However, they must be aged at least four weeks before freezing, as they do not mellow while they are frozen.

Take several days to make your cake or cakes. prepare the nuts and fruits, pour the liquor to be used over them, and let the mixture stand well covered for two or three days.  Then make the batter and bake your cakes.  The cakes will be better and the pressure in a busy household will be eased.

Always bake fruitcakes at a low temperature, no higher than 325 degrees and preferably much lower.  Line the pans with brown paper or waxed paper to prevent the cakes from burning during the long baking time.  Always place a pan of hot water on the floor of the oven.  This prevents the cakes from drying out.  Test for doneness with a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake. It will come out moist, but not doughy, when the cake is done.

Cool fruitcakes on a rack in the pans in which they were baked.  When cakes are cooled, turn them out of the pans and carefully peel off the paper.  If you are not decorating the cakes before storing them, wrap them in cheesecloth.  Sprinkle liberally with whatever liquor or wine was used in the recipe.  Seal the cakes in plastic wrap or in plastic storage bags.  Once a week, brush the cakes with more liquor.


Perhaps the most important, do not feel absolutely bound by a recipe:

If the recipe calls for brandy and you don’t have it (or like it), use wine or even a fruit juice of your choice.

If the recipe calls for citron and you don’t care for citron, substitute another candied or dried fruit.

If you do not like raisins, use more chopped dates and fewer raisins.

If the recipe calls for particular amounts of candied pineapple and cherries, the same weight of a fruit mix may be used.  The important thing to keep in mind is that the weight of fruit and nuts should be approximately the same as in the original recipe.

Within this boundary, you can make substitutions of your own choice.


Additional Tips and Hints for Perfect Fruitcake:

Use fresh good quality ingredients – make sure spices are fresh.

Soak fruit and nuts at least overnight in fruit juice or liquors to soften, drain and use excess liquid in recipe.

Dredge fruit and nuts with some flour so they won’t sink in batter.  Shake off excess flour and use in the recipe.

If changing pan sizes, remember baking time will be altered in the recipe.  Fruitcakes may be baked in muffin tins, disposable pans, etc.

Be sure to grease and flour pans or use greased brown paper for liners.  Greased wax paper is also used in some recipes.

Place a pan of water on rack or on the oven floor below the baking cake.

If cake is browning too fast, place a sheet of foil the top of the cake.

Test for doneness by placing a metal/wooden skewer in center of cake.  If it comes out clean, cake is done.  Be careful not to over bake.

Always cool fruitcakes completely in pan and remove when cold.

Pour or brush some liquor of choice over hot cakes for good flavor.  Poke cake with skewer if desired.

Fruitcakes taste better with age!  This is called “ripening.” Liquor based cakes may be stored several months in advance in a cool place prior to serving.  Non-liquor soaked cakes may be kept in a cool place or in refrigerator for short term storage or a or freezer for long storage.  Be sure to ripen fruit cakes a few weeks before freezing.

To store for a long period of time, wrap the cake in brandy or wine-soaked towels, and then wrap in either plastic wrap or aluminum foil.



Wrapped Fruitcake


For very long storage, bury the liquor-soaked cake in powdered sugar and place in a tightly covered tin in a cool place (fruit cakes can be enjoyed as long as 25 years this way.)  Check liquored-soaked cakes periodically and re-wrap in liquor soaked cloth.

Frost cakes close to serving time (not ahead of time).  Use a sugar-syrup glaze to brush on cakes for a shine and to adhere.

Slice cakes in a sawing motion with sharp thin blade of knife or a serrated knife.

Add 1 cup of applesauce to your fruit cake recipes to make a moister fruitcake.

Re-freshen stale (old) fruitcakes by gently heating pieces (microwave or steamer) and serve with a hard sauce, brandy sauce, glaze or desired topping.



Fruitcake SecretsMore Delicious Fruitcake Recipes:

Regal Fruitcake
Fruit cake lovers will delight in this delicious homemade fruitcake.  Just like the fruitcakes that my Mom and Grandma made every Christmas season.

Elsie’s Blue Ribbon Fruitcakes
Elsie was a wonderful woman who went to our church.  Every year, she made the most delicious fruitcakes and would sell them during the Christmas season at a bazaar she held.  She always made 24 or more cakes every year.  They always sold out!  I always bought several of these fruitcakes from her each year.

Vanilla Wafer Fruitcake
A friend left this for me on my desk – i don’t know where it came from, but surely do enjoy it!  My husband loves it so much that I bake it in the form of cupcakes all year long.

Dresden Stollen
This is the Dresden Stollen that is served in my home at Christmas time.  This recipe was used by my mother, grandmother, and generations before them.  I hope it will become a part of your holiday tradition too.


Related Recipes:


Baking    Cake    Christmas    Cooking Lessons - Cooking 101    Fruit Cakes   

Comments and Reviews

22 Responses to “Secrets for Perfect Fruitcake”

  1. Kayla

    I am making a fruit cake for the first time using my grandmother’s partial recipe (a lot got lost in translation) as a surprise for my father’s birthday. I started the cake about 3 weeks ago and have been marinating it in blackberry wine once a week. The cake seems overly soggy and is definitely dripping whenever I take it out every week. I have about two more weeks before it is time to serve it. What should I do to dry out the cake? Should I stop pouring the wine over it at this point, set it outside of the fridge so it can air out, or anything?
    Any suggestions you have would be much appreciated.

    • Linda Stradley

      Hi Kayla,
      Fortunately, I have never had this problem. I did some research on the internet and came up with these ideas.

      1. Undercooked fruitcake cannot be re-cooked. It can be used as the basis of mini Christmas Pudding.
      2. Cut out the soggy center.
      3. Sometimes if fruit cake has not cooled sufficiently and is wrapped up it can cause a slimy wettness. If your cake is not slimy it should be fine. Leave the cake unwrapped for a few hours, if it is fresh alcohol it will disperse.
      4. I have read that I should freeze my fresh fruit cake over night to help it mature a bit faster and to cut easier?
      5. A chat forum on your problem: Fruitcake problems

    • Pamela Byars

      Linda Stradley , My Mother and grandmother always made fruit cake at Christmas.My Mother also use blackberry wine (MOgan David) mixed with some sugar. do you have the recipe for the soak?

      • Whats Cooking America

        Any fruitcake recipe that calls or liquor or fruitjuice can be substituted with blackberry wine. The Secrets to Perfect Fruitcake page, has links to a few different great fruitcake recipes to try out.

    • Bob

      Hey, Kayla: hopefully, you aren’t POURING fluid on that cake. Instead, simply take the time to brush on whichever alcohol you use. I prefer brandies. Use a clean brush and brush on maybe 1/2 cup at a time. Brush on more alcohol per your schedule, but maybe take it easy on a soggy cake.

      I know this reply is dated, but perhaps it will help others.

  2. Joanna

    This might sound silly but which part of the oven do you bake a fruit cake? Top, bottom to middle? If never been taught how to bake so I have been teaching myself through cookbooks, internet and research. Also repeating again and again until you get it right. There have been a few times that the result was totally uneatable and ended up in the garbage but a few hints for baking a fruit cake would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  3. Kathy Gleason

    After a few decades of not baking fruit cake, I am all set for this holiday season. (Retirement and baking are a happy couple.) Using a new recipe with dried fruit rather than candied and have decided to use Bundt pans rather than loaf. How can I keep the design of the pan while lining it with paper? Great to see someone else who knows Delores Casella. Her books on bread and baking were my first purchases when I set up my own kitchen over 40 years ago.

    • Linda Stradley

      Most shaped pans and pans with designs are made to be nonstick. It is generally a good idea to oil and flour them to help ensure that you get the cleanest release on your cake to preserve as much of the original design as possible. If you line you pan with paper, you will lose the design.

  4. Audrey Wylie

    I am using a very old recipe and have a question. The recipe has candied pineapple, cherry, etc. and lots of pecans.
    The tube pan I am using is a non-stick and the cone and bottom of the pan lift out. Do you think it is necessary to use Crisco with pieces of a paper bag, as well as flouring the pan. Thanks much.

  5. Min

    Can i use black treacle instead of apple sauce to make the fruitcake more moist?Thanks.

    • Linda Stradley

      Black treacle is an extremely thick, dark, sugar syrup containing cane molasses.

  6. kim

    Which wine can I use to bake a fruit cake? be specific please

  7. Stephenie

    Hi!! I had make the fruit cake once but i feel the cake too sweet and a little bit dry when I cut it a lot of crumb dropping down. It could not cut nicely. I saw you mention can be added 1 cup of apple sauce to get it moist, in my country I don’t have apple sauce here. Can I use granted apple? Is that will too wet for the cake? Another question is: You mean to make the cake moist is to put water bottom of the cake? Is that you mean water bath bake?

  8. Silvana Caruana

    Why all my fruit goes at the bottom of the cake after baking pls

    • Linda Stradley

      Tip: After measuring the flour, but before mixing it into the batter, use the flour to toss with the dried fruit and nuts.

  9. AileenCMM

    Hi Linda,

    I have wrapped my fruit cake in a cheesecloth and I will open it up again next week to put more liquor…should I use new cheesecloth for re-wrapping or could I use the old one that I first used? I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience…Thank you…

  10. Miz Whip

    If I leave my cakes in paper baking pans, what is the best way to:
    1) soak with brandy
    2) keep them moist for a long time


    • Linda Stradley

      I have never used these paper baking pans and honestly do not know about them. Here is a link to a forum that discusses using paper loaf pans that might help you: Using Paper Loaf Pans


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