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Here is our recipe for Dark Fruit Cake

Dark Fruit Cake

Please be sure to see the 2020 revision that makes one 10×10 cake which is about 2.5 inches thick and takes 3.5 to 4 hours to bake. All the fruit is plain dried fruit with no added sugar. Except the cherries. For some bizarre reason, sugar is included in their list of ingredients.

Here is the recipe that Mum used:

(for Christmas and/or weddings - make at least 4 weeks in advance of event)

one recipe makes batter for two 8x8x3 inch pans

I confess that I have never made this cake... we always used to count on my mother to send us some. Many thanks to Mum for allowing me to post my grandmother's recipe. Mum makes 1½ times the recipe and uses the 10x10x3, 8x8x3, 6x6x3, pans; sometimes there's a bit left for a 4x4x3. She fills them to about 2¼ inches.

edit January 2013: Since Christmas 2011, my sister has taken over making the cake. She has made a few small alterations, adding cashews because she didn't have quite enough almonds. She also had the audacity to use plum jam instead of strawberry, because she doesn't like strawberry jam. Mum was horrified that she would do such a thing. But after tasting the cake, agreed that it was fine. This year, as well as using the "wrong" kind of jam, my sister substituted dried cherries for the Maraschino cherries. Everyone was so pleased at this change that she says she will always do this.



  1. Put all the fruit into a very large bowl. Pour brandy over fruit mixture and let stand for a day.
  2. The next day, add two thirds of the nuts. Sift dry ingredients over fruit and nut mixture, mix thoroughly.
  3. In another bowl, cream butter until very soft. Gradually add white sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  4. Add sherry, strawberry jam and vanilla.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the fruit and nut mixture; mix thoroughly with hands.
  6. Heat the rest of the almonds in oven until piping hot (when you smell them, they are ready) and add at the very last. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Pour into pans lined with 3 layers of buttered paper. Bake at 250F for 4 hours.

Mum says that Nana always remembered to set aside the 1/3 lb almonds to be heated and added to the cake mixture at the end. But she says that most of the time she has forgotten and put all the nuts in with the fruit and flour mix. She lines her pans with paper from brown paper grocery bags, buttered on the unprinted side.

A Word of Caution

dark fruit cake (photo ejm Jan2013)

When you are taking the cake out of the pan and it won't come out, do not, under any circumstances, carry the cake upside down to the kitchen table. (Don't ask....) However, if you do make this unfortunate error, the cake can be put back together by jamming it back in the pan with a little brandy to bind. It slices well but has a tendency to break apart when picked up off the serving platter. However, even broken apart, it still tastes wonderful!

And speaking of wonderful tastes, there's nothing more wonderful than thin slices of aged cheddar with thin slices of this luscious dark fruitcake. The combination of the aged cheese - aged gruyere, a really good parmiggiana or blue cheese works as well - with the fruitcake is truly ambrosial. Adding small sips of eau-de-vie (either grappa or poire or marc or port) to the taste is almost, but not quite, gilding the lily.

printer friendly file printer friendly file - PRM's 2020 revision

Vínarterta is also an excellent cake to serve at weddings.


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Cakes and Icings
Black Forest Cake . Brownies . Carrot Cake . Cream Cheese Icing . Chocolate Cake (aka Patrushka Cake) . Chocolate Icing . Fruit Cake . Pineapple Cake . Pineapple Cream Cheese Icing . Plum Duff . White Cake . Vínarterta

Festive Dishes:
Roast Stuffed Capon . Cornbread Stuffing . Cranberry Confit . Cranberry Sauce . Mashed Root Vegetables . Green Beans with Pimiento . Jelly Salad . Tourtiere . Cherry Snowballs . Crescents . Coloured Sugar Cookies . Fruit Cake . Fruit Pudding . Ginger Shortbread . Hard Sauce . Linzer Torte . Lucia Cats . Vínarterta . Mincemeat

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ejm (aka llizard) 2000,2002,2007,2013,2020
Toronto Ontario Canada

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